If you’re looking for two phrases to summarise this year’s Labour conference, they’d be ‘Britain can do better than this’ (in case you missed its fleeting reference in Ed Miliband’s speech) and ‘bring it on’. Ed Miliband has decided that even though he doesn’t poll above his party like Cameron, or have a history of impressing in broadcast and question-and-answer performances like Nick Clegg, he can still enter a presidential-style 2015 election without fear. Yesterday he told delegates that he would ‘relish’ a battle about character and leadership, today he told his conference during a question-and-answer session that he wanted TV election debates in 2015, saying:
‘It’s time for David Cameron to stop ducking and divine and agree to those TV debates, just like at the last general election, so the country can make its choice.’
It’s bold, but is it a good idea? Miliband’s interview on Today saw the Labour leader revert to his rather slow-paced jargon-filled standard performance. Asked if he had moved his party to the Left, the Labour leader said: ‘I think it’s a truly One Nation approach.’ Which doesn’t mean a great deal, even when you furrow your brow and shut your eyes for a few minutes to try to understand it.
Sadiq Khan told a fringe last night that the party will soon be hiring a broadcast expert: that appointment can’t come quickly enough for Ed.
But perhaps this makes the argument more effectively: unpolished, strange-sounding Ed Miliband is saying ‘bring it on’ for TV debates where everyone would expect that he’ll make a fool of himself. If even Miliband wants the TV debates, why doesn’t David Cameron?