Ed Miliband's TUC speech receives lukewarm reception
Having watched the whole of Ed Miliband's televised speech to the TUC yesterday,(10th September 2013) and the subsequent session of planted questions, it was noticeable how restrained the delegates were in their responses to the Labour Party's leader. This is not particularly surprising when you consider that Miliband's offering was more froth than content and that the speech was full of cliche, feeble attempts at humour and patronising remarks about the "backbone of Britain", "the vision of our founders"and "hearing from the people who are your members" and at the end of a twenty minute performance, a reference to his " vision" of a one nation Britain .
A poor performance which offered little, other than a vague reference that a future Labour government would legislate to regulate the workings of Zero hour contracts, would tax bankers bonuses and use the money to get every "young person" a job who had been unemployed for more than a year, and making employers who receive government contracts provide apprenticeships in exchange for the money. It all sounds very good until the realisation dawns that a Labour government should be outlawing zero hour contracts, providing work for people not just emphasising the taxation of bonuses, and proving the environment to create real apprenticeships rather than using a carrot of government contracts.
At the end of the speech and the "question and answer" session which followed, the impression remained that this was not the speech of a leader, or of a man who could inspire confidence and belief in the "policies" briefly referred to. It was a speech which sought to draw on a perceived loyalty of the Trade Union movement to whoever the incumbent of the office of Labour party leader happens to be at any given time. It is a perception that many Labour party leaders have had, and by and large this perception has held through successive TUC conferences, apart perhaps from a few grumblings from the rows of seated delegates or from some fringe meetings.
However, things are now different.
There was nothing in Miliband's speech yesterday which filled me with such passion and desire that I should immediately log on and rejoin the Labour party. There are a growing number of voices, both within the Trade Union movement and within the Labour party suggesting that a parting of the ways would be in the best interests of both elements of the wider Labour movement. The Labour party, or at least the rump of it, could remain in the populist centre right morass of British politics, alongside the Conservative/Liberal democrat alliance, competing for the centre ground and all sounding very similar.
The TUC on the other hand can revert to the role it has historically filled of representing working people in the country and ultimately providing a political voice in Parliament.