Ed Miliband's speech: The day Labour died

The utter shallowness of Ed Miliband's speech at Labour's Party Conference was something to behold, writes our UK politics editor Harry Cole.

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Ed Miliband gets animated talking about the Tories
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Harry Cole
On 27 September 2011 14:06

The 27th of September 2011 will go down in history as the day Ed Miliband, leader of Her Majesty’s Opposition, blew any slim chance of ousting and then replacing David Cameron as Prime Minister.

This time last year, the Tories desperately painted Ed as “Red Ed”: in the pockets of the unions and to the left of his older, wiser, brother.

This year Ed lived up to that description; any argument that the tag is unfair was blown out of the water in Tuesday's  “landmark speech” to the Labour Party’s annual conference.

Ed screamed that he was “pro-business, pro-business”, and, again, “pro-business”. And while this may look and sound good on a TV sound-bite, the Labour leader hardly backed it up with all the rest of what he was saying.

Instead, he advocated state intervention into the economy on a vast scale.

He has a half-baked idea that there could be a two tiered, “moral” tax system: as absurd in theory as it is impossible to implement in practice.

He also promised that “a new Labour government would only spend what it could afford”, which sounds dangerously like a pledge to scrap borrowing. Cows will sooner lay eggs.

While he pretended to be pro-business, his words would have gone down like a cup of cold sick with the industries that he professes to be fighting for.

Does a Turkey vote for Christmas? And without the support of the business world, from small to medium size employers, he will not win the country.

On a personal level, he tried to brand himself as the outsider who can fix the system.

You must wonder at what point during his meteoric rise up the greasy pole, that started with dining with and working for far-Left ideologue Tony Benn in his youth, to his days studying the oh so clichéd discipline of Politics, Philosophy and Economics (PPE) at Oxford, and then working as a Special Advisor to Gordon Brown, and then an MP, that he came up with that idea.

He should forget what Tony Benn taught him and listen to Abraham Lincoln instead: “You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time.”

The notion that Ed Miliband is some sort of political outsider is laughable.

He was in Brown’s bunker in the darkest days, and let’s not forget that the mess we’re in now is to a very significant degree the result of Gordon Brown’s appalling premiership.

But let’s be fair, In terms of style he has clearly had voice coaching since last year and:

It would seem.

Ed Miliband.

Has Joined.

That short.

Sentences.

Club.

This was all far worse than what former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith faced in 2003 with the “quiet man is turning up the volume” speech. Because, instead of reaching for the nearest bucket, the hall lapped it all up.

Ed has secured his position with his party at a cost. Don’t expect business donors to form an orderly queue.

The delegates seemed genuinely fired up by the speech, blind to the cliff that Miliband is set to drive them off.

Social Democracy failed in this country and Ed Miliband is a fool if he thinks that tacking to the left will solve our problems.

As the markets continue to plunge and the euro teeters on the edge, Labour thinks that rallying around the NHS and the “spirit of Britain” will be enough to fix our woes.

Will the last one to leave the reality-based community please turn out the lights?

Harry Cole is the UK Political Editor for The Commentator. He tweets at @MrHarryCole and is the News Editor for Guido Fawkes, Britain's leading Westminster politics news site.

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