Ed Miliband’s party conference speech included a slew of promises, that Quentin Letts got very upset about on Question Time last week because it was all radically leftist socialist nonsense, apparently. Is Miliband really shifting to the left that much?

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Photo: The Mirror

There were some interesting moments, which is surprising from a midterm party conference speech, and Miliband really wants to define the coalition government’s economic failures around the issue of his self-defined ‘cost-of-living crisis’. What do you do when your message on the economy isn’t working? You create terminology to redefine what you have been saying all along is correct.

High points in speech included a plan to lower the voting age to 17 or 16, a nice non-committal left movement that he can fail to fully deliver and not get blamed. This, along with offering more Labour party appointees to women were tiny shifts towards some kind of genuinely feminist agenda from Labour, an area that they will want to control if the Lib Dems cannot be seen as serious providers of equality on a feminist level.

Then came the announcement about energy bills. A freeze for two years whilst they ‘reform the market’ is interesting, because Miliband clearly wants to position himself as the Labour leader who will stand up to pantomimic villainous big businesses. There wasn’t a great deal in the speech that would have appealed to a big business, and this one hostility to (in my view, evil and selfish corporations that have unfair amounts of unaccountable control over people’s lives as energy bills are an essential in life and are a rip-off) big business is an interesting move. It commits him to a path that is perhaps why Neil Kinnock described Miliband’s victory in 2010 as ‘getting our party back.’

George Osborne immediately slammed the plan in pointing out that these companies could just hijack up the prices before the freeze and prevent any successful long-term regulation, but this almost proves Miliband’s point about the unreasonable nature and power of these companies.

Miliband’s attempts to express anger at the Daily Mail for calling Ralph Miliband “the man who hated Britain” have been retorted as attempts to overregulate, so it looks like the right-wing media do not care too much if Miliband does go left, they think that Britain will have none of it at the election. Miliband’s view of “Britain doing better than this” is defined by corporations being told off for having too much power, but is this something he can sell at the election? Can Labour play the party that is on the little guy’s side? They have only been out of office for 3 years, and with 18 months until the election, they still can’t commit to substantive ideas that will win everyone, not just the left that they lost under Blair.