Beware the Tory sirens

After Ed Miliband’s barnstorming performance this week, it’s hardly surprising that the Tory hacks are now searching for the next chink in the armour. ‘Ed doesn’t look like or behave like a leader’ now has to be binned.

So the next complaint, always presented of course as an invitation to help him, is that he needs to ‘take tough decisions’. What that turns out to mean is that he’s got to show he’s prepared to take on his own party (Blair’s dismissal of clause 4 is always quoted as a good precedent) and to ‘defy Left orthodoxy’. How handy – getting a Left leader to show his mettle by castrating himself. What a double whammy – getting him to undercut the loyalty of his own movement and at the same time showing his capacity to sign up to the dirty work of his opponents.

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Party democracy and the pay freeze: Ed answers

Ed Miliband took questions from Labour delegates this afternoon in a wide-ranging session that covered everything from school food to Trident.

A member of the party’s policy forum, speaking after the session, commented: “I’ve never seen a Q&A so free. I’m used to this slot being stage-managed and controlled.”

He received one of his strongest rounds of applause for his support for Remploy workers facing the sack. He also affirmed his own support for more working-class candidates to be put up by Labour at the next election. This follows a change to the party rules this morning, which gives the Labour national executive committee (NEC) a duty to ensure this.

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A triumph for Ed: the best leader’s speech ever?

By any standards Ed Miliband’s speech to Conference today was extraordinary. An impassioned hour-long declaration delivered without a note, it interwove his family’s grateful dependence on British values with his vision for a One Nation country and consolidated his leadership with a forcefulness and eloquence he had not previously portrayed.

Clearly more relaxed and self-confident with a united party behind him and a steady 10-point lead in the polls, this speech could well mark the point at which the electorate become more assured about him as a future Prime Minister, warming both to his mastery of his vision and his appeal as a genuine conviction politician compared to the confected malleability of Cameron. Having previously taken on the Murdoch empire and won (a feat which from the weak position of Opposition no other leader has ever matched), his commanding delivery today marked him out as a worthy contender for power.

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Conference media round-up: day 3

A slightly different approach today – I’ve collated a few bits and bobs that aren’t dominating the headlines. Many of them aren’t in the papers at all.

The Guardian have had a series of interesting videos from conference. Here’s John Harris asking “where has the anger gone?” Quite. He might find more at CLPD’s fringe meeting on Wednesday at the Purity Bar, Peter Street, from 6pm. The line-up includes Tony Benn, Billy Hayes, Kate Osamor, Christine Shawcroft, Michael Meacher and Cat Smith.

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