The scene in the early 60s film Only Two Can Play, where a journalist files his review of a play at the local theatre beforehand so he can enjoy an extra-marital encounter, only to be rumbled after the theatre burns down in the opening minutes of the production, should be a lesson to all those wanting to second guess events. It has not yet been learnt by the rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog.
Alex wrote it cos I was on my back, shit, no, on the phone, ordering some booze, oh sod it, no, food, to eat after the pub, bollocks, no, speech
So sure was the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines of the content and nature of the speech being delivered to the Labour conference by Mil the Younger, he detailed teaboy Alex Wickham to do a cheap and nasty hatchet job on it, together with the least flattering Miliband moments they could lay their hands on. “Ed will give you déjà vu” was the chortling headline.
Yeah, the Fawkes folks told their readers, we’ve heard it all before. Well, they’d no doubt seen the advance copies going the rounds, and decided that it would be Red Ed, Odd Ed or both, and that the content would send the assembled pundits to sleep. Nothing to see this afternoon, move along there, Labour are rubbish and Ed won’t lay a glove on Young Dave. Chortle, Chortle!
Sadly for Staines and Wickham, that wasn’t quite how it turned out: Mil the Younger spoke for over an hour, without either notes or autocue, with real passion, and projecting a natural and confident image of the kind that those who have met him one-on-one know he possesses. The pundits also latched on to something that the Fawkes blog managed not to mention.
And that was his seizure of the concept of “one nation”, which was the Conservative idea first expounded by Benjamin Disraeli at what was then the Free Trade Hall in Manchester – just across the road from where Miliband was speaking today – 140 years ago. He used the term often enough for it to be the likely headline for leader writers and pundits for tomorrow’s editions.
That, the delivery from memory, and the confident and natural delivery, are what will linger in the mind, and what has already impressed even those on the right. As with phone hacking – which Miliband has also got right – the Fawkes blog called it all wrong. “You’re either in front of Guido, or behind” goes the lame strapline. Well, Fawkes folks, this is another occasion when you’re the ones who are “behind”.
But no doubt Staines will excuse that with “we’re #1”. Another fine mess, once again.