It was all “One Nation” this and “One Nation” that. That was all there was to Miliband’s keynote speech. His vision, such as it was, was more astigmatic than 20-20. One thing though, it looks like he’s taken performance lessons quite possibly from Edouard Izzard, who was present to smile and applaud. Kinnock was there and although I didn’t see Blair, he was there in spirit. Socialism? You’re not going to get that here. But did you expect it, dear readers? The absence of any mention of socialism certainly pleased the right (along with our new masters, the markets). The speech, rather predictably, attracted the qualified plaudits of the Right-wing press and this cannot be a good thing.
The Torygraph’s Janet Daley told us that Miliband “Repudiated class war”, but it still isn’t enough for her,
All told, I would give Ed a score of six out of ten for content, and eight out of ten for delivery. The speech was about ten or fifteen minutes too long but it was better in its substance – and more attractive in its delivery – than the one given by his Shadow Chancellor yesterday. And I suppose that’s what counts.
Yeah, that delivery, it looked for all the world like he was enjoying the jokes. I mean, this is showbiz. Right? But “class war”? Did he “repudiate” it as she says? Well, not really and that’s because he never mentioned it. Daley is correct about one thing: there was no real substance and this is something that we have come to expect from the modern party conference with it’s fancy lighting, glitzy graphics and razzmatazz. Where have you been, Janet?
But if the speech gets warm support from such journalistic luminaries, then here’s a tip Mr Ed: if the right-wing press loves your speech, you’re appealing to the wrong voters but I don’t need to tell you that, you probably know that already and if you do know it, then why do you do it? It’s those floating voters, see? They’re the ones who take their political cue from the Tory press.
But it’s his co-option of the Disrealian phrase “One Nation” that interests The Cat. This is revealing, because by appropriating the Tory left’s (for it is they who love it so) touchstone phrase, it shows us today’s Labour Party for what it is: a former party of labour that is more interested in performing handstands and cartwheels to please the Tory media. Though, in all fairness, this nonsense goes back to Kinnock. Tellingly enough, Tim Montgomerie said,
[…] I was most reminded of early Tony Blair rather than early Cameron. Blair was at his best when he raided deep into Conservative territory. By repeatedly deploying the timeless Tory ideal of “one nation” that was what today’s Labour leader was also trying to do. Stood on a stage that was deliberately bathed in blue, Miliband mounted a strong defence of the union with Scotland and paid big tributes to the armed forces.
Ah yes, Blair, who has become filthy rich upon leaving office. He’s been hanging around Mr Ed since he came back to the UK in July and announced that he wanted a role in British politics. Blair is now one of Mr Ed’s advisors. We are also reminded of Nu Labour’s watered-down Tory policies. Is this Mr Ed’s Nu big idea? To steal the Tory Party’s clothes? To camp his, er, tanks out on their lawn?
The Cat can see the fingerprints of Fabianism on this speech too. The Fabians are a timid woolly bunch. In fact, Fabianism is probably better described as Webbism, after the Fabian Society’s husband and wife core. These hapless folk suffer from an affliction known as reformism. This affliction causes its members to swing about like weathervanes and mutter vague bollocks about distribution and other stuff. They talk about the evils of rail privatization but are too spineless to find a way to address the problem (re-nationalization). Instead, they would much rather patch up, what is in effect, a dying man and send him back out to fight… well, harass, actually, because Fabians don’t engage in head-on battles. That stuff sounds too much like revolution for their sensitive ears. But if you want real change, then you have to be prepared to think like a revolutionary. Thatcher described her policies as revolutionary, why should Labour be so shy of thinking like revolutionaries? Well, that’s down to Fabianism and later, its ugly bastard child, Blairism. These tendencies currently dominate the leadership’s thinking. You’ll notice I said “leadership”. I don’t think everyone in the Labour party shares the leadership’s views. There are some decent people (Luke Akehurst isn’t one of them) but while the party is in the grip of weak-willed nobodies and narcissists, then all that we are likely to get from the Parliamentary Labour Party is the thin gruel of watered-down Tory policies.
Oh and did I mention Distributism? We’ll save that for another time.