Giving a speech without notes looks impressive. David Cameron did it when he was standing to be Conservative leader in 2005. It won him the contest. Ed Miliband did it yesterday, applying to be the next PM. It’s hard to commit a long speech to memory, and therefore I’m not going to criticise him just for forgetting part of it. We’re all human after all.
What does interest me though is the part of the speech which he forgot to give. It was a passage dealing with the economy in which he was due to promise to continue the present Government’s reduction of the deficit. The fact that he forgot this part tells me that it is not something he truly believes is part of his mission. He probably felt he had to say something about the deficit as he will know that he is trailing David Cameron on the important economic competence indicator. Research shows that the party considered to be best suited to run the national economy well, generally wins the next election.
The fact is that the Labour party front bench is in complete denial about its role in creating the deficit. Ed Miliband was one of Gordon Brown’s chief lieutenants and his fingerprints (and those of Ed Balls) are all over the spending spree which led to our government debt being one of the largest in the developed world. We have never heard an apology for that nor a promise to behave differently if trusted with office again.
Deep down, Miliband does not really think that he and his former boss did anything wrong. He believes in high state spending. Yesterday he promised to spend millions more on the NHS. Let’s not forget that spending on the NHS rose exponentially in the 13 years from 1997 and it was one of the few departmental budgets not cut by the Coalition. If money was ever going to solve Britain’s healthcare problems it would have done so by now. And of course Ed is going to find the extra money by raising taxes. We have heard all this before.
It’s not the memory lapse that bothers me, it is the fact that of all the parts of his speech that he could have forgotten to deliver, it was the one dealing with the deficit which was left out. He forgot it because he doesn’t really believe that addressing the deficit is important. He cannot be trusted with our nation’s economy.