David Lloyd George once advised a new MP that their speeches should only ever have one topic – unless they made it to the cabinet, in which case they might, at an absolute limit, stretch to three.
On that measure, Jeremy Corbyn’s speech at the annual British Chambers of Commerce conference was not a good one, ranging widely from topic to topic. Team Corbyn is still lacking a first-class speechwriter, but buried in the text was an address that Ed Miliband always wanted to give.
It ran like this: the problem with the economy under New Labour was an underregulated financial services sector, which left Britain badly exposed during the financial crash. New Labour struck a Faustian pact with the City of London – low taxes and low oversight in exchange for booming revenues to build social democracy at home. What’s instead needed is a complete rebalancing of the economy – using state intervention and innovation to secure sustainable growth.
It bore the hallmarks not only of Mariana Mazzucato, one of John McDonnell’s council of economic advisers, but of Steward Wood, Miliband’s closest adviser – indeed, a more lucid version of today’s speech appeared in Prospect magazine, written by Wood, shortly before the election.
The question remains whether a maximised version of the Miliband offer can secure a better result than the one that “Corbynism Lite” got in May, or simply a more emphatic version of May’s reverse.
Now listen to Stephen Bush and George Eaton discuss Labour’s performance, on the New Statesman Podcast: