Much of the criticism of the Labour Party over the last couple of years in opposition has been centred on their lack of policy and lack of clarity on what would they do differently?
What Ed Miliband delivered at Labour Party Conference was policy, policy, policy. We had clear announcements on a a range of issues including a commitment to freeze energy price for the first 18 months of a Labour government, a programme to build 200,000 houses a year by 2020, a business rate reduction for small business, a commitment to increase the minimum wage and the bedroom tax to be repealed. The focus was very much centred around the cost of living and how Labour will make a difference with the often repeated phrase – Britain can do better than this!
Ed was unashamedly populist with his announcements but also hit some of those socialist buttons that many in the Party were calling for. A great quote from George Eaton in the New Statesman – “If Miliband is a socialist, then so are most of the electorate” summing up his view on the immediate reaction to the Labour leader’s conference speech.
However, many will not be convinced by the rhetoric, there will still be questions from within the Party about renationalising the railways, bringing energy companies back into public ownership and the introduction of a Living Wage. Others will question the level of commitment to the environment and whether or not Labour policy goes far enough – what is their view on fracking, why continue to support nuclear power, how will they create green jobs, what would they do differently?
A race to the bottom is how Ed Miliband termed the Coalition Government’s record but did he do enough to convince people that Labour can do better and would be engaged in a race to the top?