David Cameron is likely to feign indifference to Ed Miliband’s speech when asked about it, as he will be in the coming days. But he will be worried about it.
When he PM was busy ‘decontaminating the brand’ of the Tory Party, there were a few notions that were central to that. One Nation was one of them. Margaret Thatcher was more for the ‘one of us’ approach than One Nation, and Cameron’s pre election positioning closer to the centre ground was a deliberate distancing. So was The Big Society, a deliberate distancing from ‘there is no such thing as society,’ and so, especially post election as the austerity plans kicked in, was ‘we are all in is together.’
It is what he has done in terms of policy that has shifted this clever opposition slogans into redundant notions for a government doing things that even Mrs T decided against. This has provided a big opening for Labour and Ed Miliband looks up to the challenge of taking it.
One Nation. The Tories don’t believe in it, Labour does.
Big Society. The Tories haven’t a clue what it means. Labour does.
All in is together. The Tories dare not say it any more. Labour can.
What Ed Miliband did today was bold personal and political positioning, with enough policy pointers to show how Labour would be different. He also exposed, without going overboard, what an empty vessel this government is turning out to be.
I said at the start of the conference that the door was opening to a proper hearing for Labour under Ed. As that hearing continues towards an election, he is in a much better place now than he was even a few weeks ago. A lot of that is down to the calm and resilience he has shown, and the content of a speech what has been getting a remarkably good response so far. A lot of it is also down to his fellow party leaders. As the shine continues to come off them, more opportunities will open for Ed and today suggests he will know how to take them.