Ed Miliband Stabilizes Leadership With Strong Conference Showing
The three major British political parties are holding their annual conferences.
Last week it was the Liberal Democrats; this week it's Labour and next week the Conservatives will get their turn.
What all parties share is a lack of enthusiasm about their own leader. Liberal Democrats are upset over the loss of support and this translates into murmurings about Nick Clegg. The British Labour Party, although riding high in the polls, still entertains misgivings about the leader of the opposition, Ed Miliband, due to unflattering polls that still express a preference for David Cameron over his labor opposite number.
David Cameron, for his part, is disliked by many party activists for what they regard as temporizing over Europe, failure to revitalize the economy and giving in too much to the junior coalition partner, the Liberal Democrats.
Ed Miliband was the figure who had to shine at his party's conference in Manchester. He had bested his brother David Miliband in a bitter leadership contest and was considered to be too much in hock to the trade unions, thus restoring an albatross that Labour had shaken off during the era of Tony Blair's New Labour.
Blair was credited with winning middle Britain, but had always suffered from a checkered association with the party activists, who felt that his loyalties were suspect.
Ed Miliband had to rouse his party, while at the same time showing that he could restore it to power. In a speech that presented his biography and credo, the Labour leader modeled his approach - ironically - on one of the most famous Conservative Prime Ministers --Benjamin Disraeli.
Miliband picked up Disraeli's "One Nation" formula to demonstrate that Labour would not return to the politics of class warfare, but would foster national unity, as opposed to the divisive Conservatives who wanted to legislate in favor of the rich - and in such areas as educational policy, would deny the underprivileged a chance to rise.
Miliband cited the recent successful London Olympics that brought Britain together as a modern example of what national unity could achieve. It was also clever way of reminding voters that it was Labour who had secured the decision to award the 2012 Olympic Games to London, precisely at a time when Boris Johnson the Mayor of London, is reaping most of the credit to the point of posing a challenge to both David Cameron and Ed Miliband.
The only people who appear excluded from this one nation goal are the rapacious bankers who prey on honest businessmen, as well as on the common folk. Miliband wondered why gas prices at the pump only seem to go up and never down, insinuating that some insidious hand was behind these fluctuations.
His strong performance has probably stabilized Ed Miliband's leadership for the time being. Some observers even compared his performance to Tony Blair. While Miliband still has a way to go to equal Blair, the fact that he could regard the comparison as a compliment, despite his association with the anti-Blair wing of the Labour Party, shows that labor is focused on winning - the thing at which Blair was unexcelled.