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"Red Ed" negotiates a minefield

By Sophy Ridge

Newly-elected Labour leader Ed Miliband had to pick his way through a minefield in today's conference speech.

Somehow he had to placate the unions, MPs, Labour members and activists - all of whom are looking for different things and many of whom voted for his older brother.

After a knife-edge duel with David for the leader's crown, Ed had to make sure delegates left the party conference feeling optimistic about the future... and not worried that the wrong choice had been made.

And, all in all, he did a pretty good job.

He deftly dealt with the unions - potentially his biggest headache after they propelled him to power in the contest.

Firstly he massaged their egos and lavished them with praise - "it is vital that workers have a voice that speak for them."

But then he made clear he will not be in their pockets: "I have no truck, and you should have no truck, with overblown rhetoric about waves of irresponsible strikes."

And he also praised Labour's past record.

This is particularly key for Ed, as he has been characterised as a drastic break with the election-winning machine that was New Labour.

He said: "Tony and Gordon had the courage to take on established attitudes and institutions - and change Britain" - cleverly trying to position himself as the new Tony Blair.

However, while Ed neatly sidestepped the potential pitfalls in the room, there was little in his speech for the wider public outside of the conference hall.

Ed has already shown he can reinvigorate disillusioned Labour members and grassroots activists.

But can he widen his appeal to the millions of families in Britain?

That still waits to be seen.



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