Political intelligence

Written By: - Date published: 11:27 pm, October 3rd, 2012 - 10 comments
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Ed Miliband’s speech was splendid. No lectern, no notes, no teleprompter for 65 minutes. Fluent, self-deprecating, funny at times – but obviously the product of a seriously intelligent mind, addressing serious issues.

It was clearly written by Ed as well; equally clearly a lot of thought had gone into it. He promised to say “Who I am, what I believe, and where I want to take the country.” He did all of that. He also said he was out to prove that not all politicians are the same. He did that as well.

On the substance, Miliband reached back to another Jewish leader, the Tory Disraeli, with his “One Nation” theme, repeated 46 times in the speech. One Nation Labour wasn’t any timid move to the centre, it claimed the 99% for Labour’s project. But it was no swing to the right. Without saying as much, he directly addressed the issues of class inequality. He was firmly opposed to privilege, against increasing inequality, and prepared to take on the bankers in Britain’s rentier economy. Miliband at one stroke shifted the centre ground of British politics to the left, and the divide between Labour and the Conservatives to the 1% line. Brilliant.

In the “Spin Alley” session hosted by the Fabians after the speech, Jackie Ashley of the Guardian described the speech as barnstorming and said it had certainly impressed the journalists. Mehdi Hasan said the Tory strategy “We have David Cameron, they have Ed Miliband” had been blown out the window. This was confirmed by ConservativeHome’s Tim Montgomerie who rated it a 10/10 speech which will require a rethink and a response from David Cameron and next week’s Tory conference.

In my view, there is such a thing as political intelligence. It builds on emotional intelligence, which Ed Milband from all accounts has in spades, but is more than that. It can’t be found in opinion polls, although they are can contribute if used intelligently. There are no books written about it yet, but you know it when you see it, and I and 2000 others saw it yesterday.

For New Zealand, there is a lot to study and learn from what is happening here in the UK. Much more than from the US, in my view. Good links have been established and were strengthened in the course of the conference. For Shearer at Labour’s upcoming conference, the task will be similar; don’t use “one nation New Zealand” or “rebuilding New Zealand”; but do tell us who you are, what you believe, and where you want to take the country.

10 comments on “Political intelligence”

  1. Draco T Bastard 1

    For New Zealand, there is a lot to study and learn from what is happening here in the UK.

    Learning from others is a good idea but we still need to go our own way. The actions of Britain won’t necessarily translate to over here. In fact, they may even be detrimental. And I’m certainly not yet convinced that the British Labour Party will do anything about the banksters either and they are the problem.

    Much more than from the US, in my view.

    The US is sunk – it just hasn’t realised it yet. Of course, we’ve been going the same way as the US for the last three decades – ever since the 4th Labour government brought the Washington Consensus home to our shores.

  2. Enough is Enough 2

    They have the wrong Milliband.

    This sibling will never win

    • Te Reo Putake 2.1

      Actually, I think the Ed Milliband speech will cement Labour’s victory at the next election, which may come quicker than expected as the rumblings within the Lib/Dems about abandoning the coalition get louder.
      The YouGov poll just before the conference had Labour with an 11 point advantage over the Tories and the Lib Dems facing single digit oblivion. While it has settled down to just an 8 point lead (prior to the speech), that still translates to a comfortable Labour win. Like Shearer, Milliband may not be the most effective leader, but both are going to be Prime Minister within a couple of years.

  3. Jokerman 3

    Ever ethos has it’s origin in a revelation, whether or not it is still aware of and obedient to it.

    -Martin Buber

    In Jewry is God known: His name is great in Israel.
    At Salem is his tabernacle: and his dwelling is in Sion.

    -Book of Common Prayer; Ps 75: 7

    (How odd
    of God
    To choose
    The Jews)


    Wow! (there is that Awe ya mention Georgy-boy)

  4. Dr Terry 4

    PLEASE do not invite Shearer to tell us his story (plus “heroics”) all over again!! I could not stand it. I am not at all sure that I want to hear any more about “who I am” or “what I believe” – just give us some direction! But this requires “political intelligence” and I am sure many of us know which person actually possesses that!!

  5. Dr Terry 5

    PLEASE do not invite Shearer to tell us his story (plus “heroics”) all over again!! I could not stand it. I am not at all sure that I want to hear any more about “who I am” or “what I believe” – just give us some direction! But this requires “political intelligence” and I am sure many of us know which person actually possesses that!!

    (What the hell is an internal service error? I become very tired of seeing this come up after the effort entailed in offering a comment).

    [lprent: Trying to find time to deal with it. The processing when a post goes up or has an edit is getting a bit extreme. ]

  6. Kotahi Tāne Huna 6

    It’s a good speech.

    I think if anything it moved to the left. How to win votes by affirming democratic socialist principles 101.

  7. hush minx 7

    Mike thank you for your post – it offers a vision of hope and perhaps a new reality for Labour here. As one of those activists who used to deliver things, and as a general promoter amongst friends and family it has been hard to be motivated under recent leadership (since the departure of Helen Clark really). None has come close to get command of the political game and inspirational drive. If Shearer can indeed step up into a space similar to the one you describe here I am sure he will find a legion of supporters rallying behind him.

  8. gobsmacked 8

    Thanks for the report, Mike.

    In the first two paragraphs of the post I counted at least 5 things that Milliband did for this speech, which Shearer can’t do – or hasn’t yet done.

    I totally agree about “political intelligence”. But let’s not kid ourselves. It’s not something that can be acquired through wishful thinking. or reading somebody else’s words. If it’s not there, it’s not there.

  9. “By now, there’s a good chance you’ve seen the video of Ed Miliband using almost precisely the same words over and over again in an interview. If you haven’t, it’s well worth seeking out. The reporter asks him five different questions about the public sector strikes, and every time, Miliband says that he thinks the strikes are wrong while negotiations are still under way, that the government has acted in a reckless and provocative manner, and that it’s time for both sides to put aside the rhetoric and get round the negotiating table. He repeats identical phrases ad nauseam. It sounds like an interview with a satnav stuck on a roundabout. Or a novelty talking keyring with its most boring button held down. Or a character in a computer game with only one dialogue option. Or an Ed Miliband-shaped phone with an Ed Miliband-themed ringtone. Or George Osborne.”


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