The work of a new generation

Current logo of the Labour Party
Image via Wikipedia

Today is a big day for Ed Miliband. At 2pm, or more likely, 2:40pm, he will make his first Leader’s Speech. 

No doubt there’ll be a deluge of blog posts, yards of column inches, and hours of tv coverage on content of his speech, the presentation style, the suit, the missus, the brother and God knows what else. So I’m posting early to avoid analysing his every move and utterance.

It’s been an interesting couple of days since his election. The Mail on Sunday got their bile out almost immediately after the election was over, and the rest of the press seems to have jumped on either the Tories’ ‘Red Ed’ line and  fictional union bloc vote, or the psychodrama of Romulus and Remus Ed and David.

Ed has a great opportunity ahead of him to unite a party that has been divided into Blairite and Brownite camps for over 15 years. The party must swing behind him if we are to take on a Coalition doomed in the end to split and fail. We will find out in the next few hours how he plans to do that.

In the coming weeks, he’ll be demonstrating his leadership as he builds his first shadow cabinet, begins to take on the comprehensive spending review, and tackles the coalition in Parliament.

The party must get over the factionalism of the leadership race and fight together under one leader, whether they voted for him or not. Whilst our job is, in part at least, to unite behind Ed, his job is a much more complex one.

With a 29% share of the vote at the last election, he has work to do to win back the electorate. Of course, some would say just not being Gordon Brown is probably worth a 10% increase, but Ed can’t rely on that.

Many studies have shown that the battle for voters is the battle for the centre-ground. Talk of lurching to the left, especially when driven by the Tories and media,  is nothing more than meaningless alliteration. It is not a realistic strategy to win back voters. True, we need to decide whether Labour needs to move left to fight for the centre-ground, but moving far left as some ‘old Labour’ members would suggest is not an election-winning suggestion.

The whole purpose of Ed Miliband’s leadership, or that of anyone else, isn’t solely to change the party. It is to change the nation and society. He’s not there just to hold office and make amendments to Labour policy. He’s there to create social and economic policy that makes our country a better place.

Now is the time to get off the back foot, to move away from defending our record, to start setting the political agenda again, despite being in opposition. Ed Miliband needs to  lead the party as we work to decide Labour’s direction in the coming months and years. He needs to increase pressure to create social change and drive Labour’s belief in freedom and equality for all. And we need to support him as he does that.  We, as members of the Labour party, are well aware of the importance of the strength of our common endeavour, and Ed needs to know he is not alone.


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