Party conference season: Ed Miliband scores 3/10

Party conference season: Ed Miliband scores 3/10

 Oh dear. What happened to the assured Ed Miliband of two years ago, to whom I gave a score of 7/10 for his pre-conference interview with the BBC? This time he was clumsy and evasive, relied too heavily on a confusing soundbite, and appeared to go blank half way through.

A good media interview is about a simple message or two, backed up with some examples and delivered with passion. That’s why Nick Clegg scored so well last week. But what was Ed’s message? It seemed to be a rather baffling “One Nation”, which could mean anything, and therefore nothing, and reminds me of the Tories’ ill-conceived “Big Society” mantra, which they were so wise to ditch.

Later in the interview, Ed got better, and his sign-off was powerful, about tackling “the cost-of-living crisis facing British people”. That was much better, and didn’t need an army of psychologists to decipher its meaning. We can all relate to the cost-of-living squeeze, so why on earth didn’t he make that his key message, instead of all that stuff about One Nation?

Other problems:

  • He made the school-boy error, in his very first response, of refusing to answer or even address Andrew Marr’s question. Instead, he used a tactic which only badly trained politicians seem to think is a good idea: telling the interviewer that “The real question is this…”
  • He relied far too much on platitudes without following up with any substance. Examples include: “Making our economy work for ordinary people”; “I want to strengthen the minimum wage in a one-nation way”; “We want to do it in a right way, a responsible way”.
  • He lost his thread entirely mid-way through the interview, when talking about a European referendum and free schools. I can’t recall that happening to any leader of a major political party (though to his credit he came through it).

It wasn’t all bad. Miliband bridged assertively from a question about tax to a strong point about the recovery being a hollow one unless it helps ordinary people. I thought he was excellent, and crystal clear, on the Damien McBride issue. And he shrugged off questions about his own disappointing poll ratings.

But overall this was a poor performance by a leader who needs to do much better to convince voters that he can be the next Prime Minister.


Article date

September 23rd, 2013

Robert Taylor

Media Trainer


My main passion is media training, and I’m proud to be one of the UK’s most experienced and successful trainers in this field.

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