Labour Conference 2011 – Ed Miliband – what to expect?

Later today Ed Miliband will address the Labour Party Conference, after what has been a disappointing first year to his leadership. The year since Miliband narrowly beat his brother to become leader has been less than spectacular for Ed; defeat in the AV referendum, annihilation in the Scottish elections, a mediocre performance in the English locals, cabinet choice mistakes (mainly the decision to appoint two complete incompetent shadow chancellors) and now the Unions, the people who put him in power, are starting to question their decision. Moreover, this mornings polls won’t fill Ed with confidence; it places the Conservatives on top, the first time in a year. Further polls highlight that 57% don’t view him as a credible Prime Minister in waiting – the Labour leader needs to change public opinion if his party has any hope of escaping the wilderness.

What then should we expect from Ed Miliband this afternoon? If he is to follow the trend set by his shadow chancellor, he’ll most probably apologise for Labour’s handling of the economy and its failure to properly regulate the banks. However, it’s a bit late for that, it shouldn’t take the Labour Party a year to recognise that an economic recession during their administration is their responsibility – so an apology won’t do much to appease the public. Secondly, he’ll probably try to defend Labour’s record in government, this too would be a mistaken vanity exercise, the public made its mind up on Labour’s record last May – you lost the election.

If Ed Miliband wants to rebuild his party’s image he needs to move on, develop a new policy agenda, not old labour or new labour, but Miliband’s labour. If he was smart his conference speech wouldn’t involve apologies or record defences but a new strategy for government. He’s had a year to tory bash and oppose the cuts, it’s about time the public knew what his alternative is. 

Tim Hasker

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