Having not seen Ed Miliband’s conference speech (for next week) I can only guess what’s in it; but the broad assumption in Labour circles is that their leader will try to cement his strategy of backing ordinary people against “Big Interests”.
The tactic worked impressively well during the hacking scandal, when Miliband took on News International (admittedly, when the cracks in the Murdoch empire were already visible). We have since seen similar talk against big energy companies and the most irresponsible banks. Many of Ed’s advisers think the dots can be joined up across other sectors to create a binding philosophy.
But Nick Clegg, doing his conference speech this afternoon, is already ploughing some very similar furrows.
Take this line: “That’s why we speak up, first and loudest, when the establishment lets the people down.”There could hardly be a more clear statement of intent to plonk the Lib Dems in Miliband’s territory.
Clegg talks about “a new economy run for ordinary people rather than big finance”. He will promise to “act for the whole nation”.
“In our long, proud liberal history, we have never served; the media moguls, the union barons or the bankers. We do not serve, and we will never serve, vested interests. We are in nobody’s pocket”.
Clegg goes on to say that various establishment institutions have been exposed one by one: “The City of London, shattered by the greed of bankers. The media, corrputed by phone hacking. Parliament, shamed by expenses.”
Miliband’s speechwriting team must be looking on askance, wondering how they can newly differentiate their man from the deputy prime minister.
Meanwhile Clegg will call Miliband’s party “risible” for claiming to be the enemy of vested interests.
While we were campaigning for change in the banking system, they were on their prawn cocktail offensive in the City. While we’ve led the charge against the media barons, Labour has cowered before them for decades. The most shocking thing about the news that Tony Blair is godfather to one of Rupert Murdoch’s children is that nobody was really shocked at all.
Clegg will also directly criticise Ed Miliband and Ed Balls, dismissing them as Gordon Brown’s aides during the build-up to the crash. “This is no time for the backroom boys,” he will say.
The Labour leader will get a chance to rebut this broadside at next week’s conference in Liverpool: Miliband – over to you.