No notes speech have been Ed Miliband’s political party trick. His One Nation speech two years ago ended speculation about his leadership and last year’s energy price freeze effort knocked the Tories off their stride for months. But today, the no notes speech hurt Miliband rather than helped him.
Without an autocue, Miliband skipped bits of the speech. This has happened to him before, one year he missed out the section on the environment. But this year, Miliband missed out the bits he could least afford to: forgetting the sections on the deficit and immigration.
By, albeit inadvertently, not talking about either the deficit or immigration, Miliband has left himself open to the charge that he ignored both the most important issue in British politics and the one that the voters care about the most.
This is what Miliband forgot to say:
There won’t be money to spend after the next election. Britain will be spending £75 billion on the interest on our debt alone. That’s more than the entire budget for our schools. So as Ed Balls announced yesterday, Labour’s plan is based on a tough new approach. Eliminating the deficit as soon as possible in the next parliament. Getting the national debt falling. And no proposals for additional borrowing. We will get the deficit down. The next Labour government will deal with our nation’s debts. And it is because government won’t have the money to spend, it is more important than ever that everyone does their bit so we change Britain together. One Nation Labour has changed from New Labour — businesses have a responsibility to pay their taxes, respect their customers and treat their workers fairly. Because together we can and on our own we can’t. Those who can work have a responsibility to do so. Because together we can and on our own we can’t. Immigration benefits our country but those who come here have a responsibility to learn English and earn their way. And employers have a responsibility not to exploit migrant workers and undercut wages. Because together we can and on our own we can’t. Government, business, working people acting together. Living up to their responsibilities. A new ethic. A national effort. Labour’s plan for Britain’s future.
Now, there’s nothing ground breaking in these sections. But hearing Miliband declare, ‘We will get the deficit down’ would have made it feel less like a core vote speech. Equally, if he had talked about immigration and identity he would have shown that he understood that it is not just economic dislocation that is riling our politics at the moment.
To rub salt into Miliband’s wounds, the papers have majored on the sections he forgot.