'Weakest link' Ed Miliband focus of Labour party conference

The Labour party conference will be dominated by efforts to make 'weakest link' Ed Miliband appear more prime ministerial, it has been claimed.

Party leader: Ed Milliband
Party leader: Ed Milliband

Ahead of his speech on Tuesday the party leader claimed that the public would back him for the top job ‘in the end’.

Interviewed on the Andrew Marr Show yesterday he laughed off suggestions that he was a ‘geek’ and claimed he ‘was going to do it my own way.’

Nick Williams, head of public affairs and corporate comms for Fleishman Hillard, said that this theme would be the dominant message coming from the conferece.

‘Labour's campaign advisors have long recognised that  the weakest link has been Ed Miliband so they are really using this opportunity to push him as a future leader,’ he said.

Williams pointed to a ‘carefully orchestrated’ picture taken at the train station in Manchester, where the conference is taking place.

‘He was with his family and it was to show him as a man at ease,' he said.

‘He has been built up in recent days by Labour briefings to the lobby, and the belief is that the more the public know him the more his approval ratings will go up.’

Miliband yesterday threatened that if elected he would split up banks into separate retail and investment arms, and pledged to restore the 50 pence tax rate.

Iain Anderson, director at Cicero, agreed with Williams that the focus was on ‘Miliband the personality’, with policy emerging ‘on the hoof’ around this central story.

‘The driver is the polling,’ he said, ‘and it shows the people still don’t know who Ed is. The essential values being promoted around him are that he is in touch with ordinary people, with a contrast being painted with the Tories and ministers like Andrew Mitchell.’

Miliband hit back at Unite leader Len McCluskey, who said his members were ‘furious’ over Labour's backing of a public sector pay freeze.

However, Anderson saw the story as one ‘manufactured’ by the Sunday press which would actually help the Labour leader.

‘It plays into his hands and in tommorrow’s  leader’s speech  I fully expect him to emphasise that if elected he will not be in the union’s pocket, he said.

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