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29 September 2010

Miliband’s love letter to Lib Dem voters

His speech featured a series of highly effective raids on Lib Dem territory.

By George Eaton

One of the most notable things about Ed Miliband’s speech was that it barely mentioned the Lib Dems, let alone Nick Clegg. The address was shorn of some of the rhetoric we heard during the leadership campaign (he once joked about making the party “extinct”) and Labour’s new leader wisely decided to concentrate his firepower on David Cameron and the Conservatives.

But more significantly, the speech featured a series of highly effective raids on Lib Dem territory. He unambiguously condemned the Iraq war, promised to vote yes in the AV referendum, attacked Labour’s approach to civil liberties, warned against tuition fees and, like Tony Blair, he declared his admiration for Keynes, Lloyd George and Beveridge, who, as he pointedly noted, were “not members of the Labour Party”.

As an attempt to win back some of the 1.5 million people who have defected from Labour to the Lib Dems since 1997, it was perfectly constructed.

Several big questions remain, notably whether Miliband will campaign, as opposed to merely vote, for electoral reform in next year’s referendum. But, among other things, his speech was an unashamed love letter to Lib Dem voters.

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