Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Labour Conference 2010: Ed Miliband Leader speech

I was late leaving a pension fringe and as I hurried out of the hotel toward the conference centre I got shouted at by camera crew to "get out of the way".  Ed appeared a minute later to go and give his leadership speech. 

I went into the wrong queue and when I eventually found the right one it was too late to get in - the hall was filled to its 2500 capacity.  There was a theatre nearby from which you could have gone and watch but together with a couple of hundred other disappointed delegates and visitors we watched the speech on the TV's while sitting on the floor amongst the conference stalls.

You could hear Ed speaking from all directions and at slightly different play back speeds.  Which was rather strange. 

It was I think a great speech.  Ed was very emotional at the beginning and at one point I thought he was even going to have tears rolling down his cheeks.  Especially when he talked about how grateful he was for this country who gave refuge to his parents who had fled Nazi persecution. 

There was also comedy - when he reminded everyone of the daft insults that had been made about him such as being like Wallace from "Wallace and Gromit" or "Forrest Gump".  When he mentioned "Red Ed" he got massive applause for wanting a "grown up" debate over politics in the future

He supported trade unions who tackle low pay but would not support "irresponsible" strike action.  He committed again to a "living wage" not just a minimum wage for all.  He said it cannot be right that a banker can earn more in one day than a cleaner does in a year?  Inequality is bad for everyone, rich and poor. 

He thought that the War in Iraq had been a mistake - even thought it had been genuine and well intended but he strongly supported the War in Afghanistan.  While he was a firm defender of Israel's right to exist so did Palestine have the right to be a state and the attack on the Gaza convey had been a terrible misjudgement.

He finished with an appeal to us all to be optimistic.  "We are the optimists in politics today," he said.
"So let's be humble about our past. Let's understand the need to change. Let's inspire people with our vision of the good society.

"Let the message go out, a new generation has taken charge of Labour. Optimistic about our country. Optimistic about our world. Optimistic about the power of politics.

"We are the optimists and together we will change Britain." To which he had a standing ovation in the hall and a round of applause from our little groups. 

It was a little odd clapping a TV screen but it felt the right thing to do.

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