UK Politics

Ed Miliband's test: To be seen as a possible PM

Close your eyes. Think very hard. I want you to imagine something.

You're looking at the most famous black door in the world. It's May 2015 - the day after the next election. The man standing on the step is Ed Miliband.

Now, how do you feel?

The answer of many - though probably not readers of this blog - will be "Who?" We politics obsessives forget that many voters simply have no idea who the Labour leader is, let alone have an opinion of him.

The reply of some will be - "Not that (insert appropriate TV bleep here)..." Yesterday my colleague James Landale vox popped the good people of Manchester to ask them what they thought of Ed M. "He's a [bleep]," said one. The fearless Landale pressed on: "But do you know who he is?" "He's that Tory", came the reply. James gently pointed out that he was, in fact, the Labour leader. "Well," came the unapologetic reply, "he's still a [bleep]".

Others will remember hazily that he's that bloke who beat his brother and is said to be a bit of a nerd.

Today Ed Miliband will address all three groups of non-political cognoscenti and try to help them picture him on that doorstep a little more favourably.

He wants them to know that he is not the same as "that Tory". He wants them to understand that as the son of Jewish immigrants and someone who went to the local comprehensive he was not born to rule, did not go to public school and wants to be prime minister because of his values and beliefs rather than because, as David Cameron once said of himself, "he'd be good at it".

His aim is to show that he is the one who can make the slogan "we're all in it together" meaningful by pledging to use the power of government to stand up to vested interests - banks, energy, pension and rail companies - as well as harnessing the Olympic spirit of working together to repair Britain.

There are another two Labour Conferences before the next election. The test of this speech is in many ways a modest one. If you're not a natural Labour supporter and close your eyes and think "Maybe" and not "Who?" or "That [bleep]" or "Isn't he the Tory?", it will have been a success.