Wednesday, 28 September 2011

That Q and A session...

ED looked exasperated as yet another person stood to ask a question and declared they were a Labour member.

This was after all meant to be a session in which non-partisan members of the public had come into the conference to “open up politics” – the first time it had ever been done, Ed had declared at the start.

“Please, I’m not being rude, but can we only have non Labour,” said Ed from the front realising that the credibility of the event was being stretched. Well, we’ve had old Labour, New Labour and just Labour, so perhaps non Labour is now the way to go.

Questioner after questioner got up and complained about cuts, complained about privatisation, about the Tories – if there were hard questions in the audience they were hiding underneath delegates’ chairs.

Only one disabled woman really challenged Miliband in the way he wanted, accusing him of perpetuating what she called the damaging rhetoric of “benefits scroungers” that the Coalition was promoting.

Ed dealt with the issue well, but through a bit of irritating organisation the woman had her microphone taken away and passed to someone else and so her possibly articulate follow on questions were not heard in the wider hall.

It’s clear that Ed is more comfortable doing this sort of thing, and the session is only just coming to an end as I write, than giving speeches – especially when the questions are so easy.

But the truth is that many attendees and half of the press that attended the conference left after he gave his speech – it will be that inglorious episode that defines his conference.

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