Party conference season: Ed Miliband scores 9/10 for Andrew Marr interview

Party conference season: Ed Miliband scores 9/10 for Andrew Marr interview

A triumph. A transformation. An unbelievable, barn-storming performance. Did this look like a Prime Minister in waiting? Incredibly, it really did.

How could this be the same Ed Miliband to whom I gave 3/10 for his Andrew Marr interview  this time last year? How could he go from snivelling sixth-former to passionate, convincing statesman in the space of just 12 months?

Watch the first five seconds of this interview, and see what you think of his posture. Impressive, isn’t it? Square-shouldered, relaxed and at ease. None of that gawky over-eagerness. And his tone has changed out of all recognition. Earlier this year, Labour MP John Mann challenged him to cut out the clever stuff, and just speak plain, conversational English – the sort that we all use day in, day out to communicate. Boy, did Miliband deliver.

All the academic, government-speak has gone, and we now have succinct, straightforward, compelling language. “We need big change”. “I want people to be able to see their GP within 48 hours, not a week”. Truly, this was a revelation.

In his first answer, a passionate and perfectly delivered “message sandwich”, he articulated a simple, unmissable key message – “Regardless of the constitution, we need to get Britain working for ordinary people” – followed by an example of a woman pushing a pram, whom he met on the campaign trail, who said she was voting Yes to independence because she had no prospect of affording her own home.

A simple message. A compelling example. Delivered with passion, and repeated as often as necessary. Those are the hallmarks of a good interview, and Miliband gave a master-class.

He was bold enough to give short, even one-word answers when it suited him. Will you deliver on your promise to Scotland? “Yes”. Enough said. (Last year, he’d have waffled his way through an essay on the options for Devo-max.) Will the other party leaders do so too? “If David Cameron makes a promise, he will keep to it”. Bang.

And he was confident enough to back his own judgment, with none of the apologetic obfuscation of the last four years. His answer to the question about Gordon Brown coming back to front-line politics was the best of the lot: “He did a great job in the referendum, but no, he can’t come back”. Assertive. Commanding. No beating about the bush. Genuinely impressive. (My jaw was on the floor by that point).

Of course there are still things for Miliband to improve. Ridding himself of that annoying glottal stop for one thing. And he needs to rein in the knee-jerk hostility to anything his political opponents do. (Note to Ed, that empathy with your opponents  can work wonders).

But overall I’m mightily impressed. The Tories, we’re told, are banking on Miliband’s poor personal ratings to win the election for them in 2015. If this is the Miliband we’re going to see until then, the Tories had better watch out.

Article date

September 23rd, 2014

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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