Miliband: I’ll put England first
That seemed to be the sentiment of Miliband’s speech yesterday on Scottish Independence, Future of UK and Englishness all rolled into one.
I complained on twitter to Andrew Page over at Scottish Liberal that Clegg’s speech on Social Mobility like a “public school boy formulaic speech” using that analogy, Miliband’s speech was like listening to a speech written by a poor to average state school kid. There was no coherent structure and the themes were very broad within to the point that I didn’t get what the point of the speech was.
Some newspapers and broadcasters have said that it was his speech on Scottish Independence, if it was, it was a very odd way to address the subject. He barely mentioned Scotland in the speech, how Scotland should move forward or how the UK should move forward and discuss the question of how do we govern these islands.
He did talk about England a lot, but he didn’t really describe what Englishness was, or how it differed from Britishness, Scottishness, Welshness and Northern Irishness. Even in a channel 4 interview after the speech, he was stuck as to how to describe what Englishness is and what makes him English other than the fact that he was born in England, and grew up in various English places and now represents Doncaster. In that interview he mixes Britain and England up not good when talking about Scottish Independence. Miliband believes that Keir Hardie sat in an English Parliament. I think you’ll find Mr Miliband that the UK was in full swing and full health at the time Keir Hardie sat in Parliament.
Its often said that slips of the tongue, reveal what a person really thinks. Does that mean Ed’s slip into using English when he means UK means he thinks English are better. Is it English arrogance or English ignorance that is to blame for Ed’s little slip?
He described the traditions of English Labour about the Living wage, a responsible capitalism but this is what Scottish politics has always been about and in Ed’s speech, I got the sense when he talked of English Labour traditions that he was talking about those things for England alone.
I very much got the impression through his speech, that he’ll stick up for England but won’t stick up for the rest of us.
Whilst Englishness, and how to govern England needs to be talked about, any speech on the subject has to be thought about incredibly carefully, but it felt like this was written on the back of a napkin without any thought what so ever.
No thought went into how to structure the speech, when to emphasis Englishness on its own when to emphasise the rest of the “nations” of the UK, when to emphasise Britishness etc. No thought went into the tone, or language, how do you describe Englishness so it can be seen as separate from Britishness, Scottishness, Welshness, Northern Irelandness, how do you use your words carefully so you don’t alienate other parts of the UK.
It was a very bad speech but most of Miliband’s speeches are confusing and badly written – anyone remember the predator and producer speech and has anyone worked out what he meant so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.
The leaders of the UK parties need to be very careful as to how and when they intervene over the next two years.