Editor’s blog Tuesday 28 September 2010: Towards 'The Good Society' - Ed Miliband's first big speech as Labour leader
Ed Miliband's first conference speech as Labour leader was pretty good. He didn't seem born to platform oratory (and at points looked a bit nauseous). His perfomance style was caught between 'to camera' and 'for the hall', which led to awkward moments; and he stumbled over the odd word (but we're not in John Prescott territory).
Which is all fine. Room for improvement is no bad thing: the gig is a marathon, not a sprint. (Also on the debit side, he did the Tony 'Jazz Hands' Blair thing of talking in incomplete sentances, dropping nouns and verbs without so much as a by-your-leave. That has to stop.)
There was one amusing cutaway in the BBC's vision mixing, to a very bored-looking golden retriever stretched out on the conference floor. I dunno, you give someone one outside broadcast to direct and they think they're Eisenstein.
Key repeated phrases? "Let's be honest", "old thinking", "new generation", "The Good Society", "we are the optimists".
The Guardian Politics team sagely point out that by listing three Liberal heroes, David Lloyd George, John Maynard Keynes and William Henry Beveridge (rich liberals, and so can afford three-part names), Mili-E "looks like he's reaching out".
The health policy bits
There were some.
"Think of how we took on the idea that there was a public ownership solution to every problem our society faced".
"The old way of thinking said that public services would always be second-class. But we defied the conventional wisdom. I come from a generation that suffered school lessons in portacabins and crumbling hospitals. I tell you one thing, for the eighteen years they were in power the Tories did nothing to fix the roof when the sun was shining. Our legacy is a generation for whom newly built schools and modernised hospitals are an everyday fact of life. I am proud of the fact that because of what we did, yes we did save the National Health Service in this country".
"This generation wants to change the way government works because it understands the power of the state to change lives but also how frustrating it can be if not reformed".
"During this campaign, I have met some extraordinary people doing amazing service for our country. I remember a care worker I met in Durham. She worked hard and with dedication, looking after our mums, dads and grandparents when they couldn't look after themselves anymore. She is doing one of the most important jobs in our society, and if it was my mum or dad, I would want anyone who cared for them to be paid a decent wage. But she was barely paid the minimum wage - and barely a few pence extra for higher skills. She told me that she thought a fair wage would be £7 an hour because, after all, she would get that for stacking shelves at the local supermarket. I believe in responsibility in every part of our society. That's why I believe in not just a minimum wage but the foundation of our economy in the future must be a living wage too".
"There are amazing secondary schools in my constituency and amazing teachers and head teachers. But one of them was consistently failing its pupils. And it pained me as an MP to walk into that school knowing those kids were being consistently let down. Now that school has been taken over, the kids life chances transformed. That is what good public service reform is all about".
"Climate change, just like the aging society, can't be tackled by the politics we have. They don't lend them selves to the politics of now: instant results, instant votes, instant popularity, X-factor politics. So we can't be imprisoned by the focus groups. Politics has to be about leadership or it is about nothing. I also know something else. Wisdom is not the preserve of any one party. Some of the political figures in history who I admire most are Keynes, Lloyd George, Beveridge, who were not members of the Labour Party. Frankly, the political establishment too often conducts debate in a way that insults the intelligence of the public. We must change this for the good of the country".
"We are the heirs to an extraordinary tradition, to great leaders who were above all the optimists of history. The optimism of 1945 which built the National Health Service and the welfare state".
Very difficult to draw any of substance: detailed policy should develop over time.
There is a tension in his narrative about supporting the market and controlling the market, which is fine, but at some point people will want to know what it would mean in practice.
His point about wages in the care sector would, if it led to legislation, improve those people's lives - and push up costs for public and private payers: a wicked issue.
The line about good public service reform being about transforming people's life chances could develop into something interesting.
I liked "the political establishment too often conducts debate in a way that insults the intelligence of the public. We must change this for the good of the country". The right decision, clearly - but doing it in an often-stupid media culture will be one hell of a challenge.