Ed Miliband has delivered a 'key note' speech which was designed to put Labour on a path for electoral success and to try and put the embarrassing headlines of the weekend to one side. It has been a highly uncomfortable week for the Labour leader; starting with the leaks of Ed Balls' private emails and letters to Gordon Brown and culminating with the rumours that David Miliband has been plotting against him. The Labour leader is tasked with putting his party back on course, with a lack of substance his main problem.
It is of course exceedingly difficult to set out policies as an opposition party, be that as it may, there has to be a show of intent. Tony Blair scrapped Clause Four and David Cameron focused on his 'green' agenda. These were not direct policy initiatives but they gave two relatively unknown public figures the chance to show the masses what they stood for; what was important for them and what their vision for the country was.
Since Ed Miliband's election victory, he has been direct that they must change. His election campaign targeted the need to put an end to the Brown-Blair years and for Labour to redefine itself. As Labour leader he has called upon the party that change is needed; however there is no clear direction for change. Up until now there hasn't been a key policy initiative that has defined the Labour Party under Miliband. For the most part all he has provided thus far are a whole host of sound bites but without stretching to what he believes in. His speech this afternoon could have and maybe should have gone further.
His rhetoric on the need for change in the city as well as view on high paid chief executives is not on the top of voters priorities. He has used his speech this afternoon to once again attack the mistakes of those irresponsible bankers and an executive' that pay themselves 'undeserving' salaries, but does it really say anything about him? The vast majority of the population would like to see an end to the irresponsible attitude in some areas of the city but what alternatives has he offered?
If the strategy is to go on the attack, Ed Miliband needed to highlight where the government was not going far enough when it came to legislation in this area back in January. The government spoke of tough action against any bank that dares to pay excessive, undeserved bonuses, but in reality this was all talk. The Labour Party had an opportunity to flex their muscles and introduce their own initiatives but for whatever reason they have decided to go down a far more negative path leading nowhere.
His attack on the welfare bill may only confuse voters - rather than drum up real support. Miliband claims that Labour support the idea behind the bill but has described the bill as 'flawed.' The Labour leader did comment that he wanted to help people who work or contribute to society in other ways by allowing them special treatment when social housing gets allocated.
As an opposition leader, arguably the most important aspect of Miliband's job is to keep check on the government. So far the Labour party have used the traditional tactic of simply attacking the government's plans without offering up their own alternatives. It was an early criticism of David Cameron, but he changed tactic. This gambit was adopted by both William Hague and Iain Duncan Smith and Tory's believe this to be a major factor as to why the Conservative Party spent 13 years in the political wilderness. Ed Miliband can't continue to attack the government on specifics without setting out his alternatives and visions. This afternoon's speech will do very little to appease some of his harshest critics.