At this year’s Labour conference in Manchester, Mil The Younger has now given his first speech as party leader. It was not, apparently, strong on oratory or passion, but he only got the job the other day. And rousing conference speeches do not, generally, translate into significant numbers of votes at General Elections.
So what kinds of themes were in evidence? A stand-out for those like me, of no party affiliation but liberal stance, was the admission that Labour had been “casual” about civil liberties. Dead right they had: were Young Dave to go for returning the maximum period of detention without charge to fourteen days from its current 28, he would have my backing. This was an issue that Blair got totally wrong.
Miliband also stated unequivocally that the Iraq war was wrong, as so many of us suspected at the time – and, as the supposed WMDs failed to materialise, we then knew for sure. Another instance of Blair losing the plot – and on that occasion, also losing a lot of votes into the bargain.
But was there anything positive on offer? Well, there was optimism. Mil The Younger claimed to have it, while he characterised Young Dave as having a pessimistic view, and using that to “hide behind the deficit”. I’m not sure about that one – Cameron has so far managed not to sound too downbeat.
But for Labour’s sake, I hope that the headline “We’re A New Generation” is just a Beeb website phrase, and not an official Labour one. Because it sounds rather like “We’re The New Generation”, recognisable as part of the USP of The Monkees, the 60s band that was, effectively, manufactured to order.