CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

On the road from Doncaster

24 September, 2020 — By John Gulliver

I SENSE Ed Miliband, Labour’s front bench shadow minister, is quite close to his leader Sir Keir Starmer because, significantly, one of his major speeches this week was made in Doncaster. They also live near each other in north Camden.

It was in the city of Doncaster – which I got to know in the mid-80s during the miners’ strike when Camden Town Hall “twinned” with a local pit called Bentley – that Miliband first became an MP many years ago.

It was a safe Labour seat in Doncaster North and Miliband dutifully went about his work as an MP, respected as a Labour man but not necessarily liked. He was probably seen as a London man foisted on them.

But, I gather, in the past two or three years he has begun to change and mix more in the old miners’ clubs, still busy as bars, and he is now liked as a Labour man who is more “political”.

I also sense he is sharper, with a greater sense of conviction about what Labour is all about. When he was campaign­ing for leadership years ago I met him and asked him to define what “socialism” meant – and he could not give any real political and economic definition of the word except to use generalities that can mean anything to anyone and often used by all liberal thinkers.

So, Starmer was reported in Tuesday’s Times as making a speech in a city of the so-called Red Wall where, accord­ing to some journalists, there has been a swing towards the Conserva­tives.

In fact, Miliband’s seat and that of his colleague Rosie Winterton are pretty safe – the loss was in the suburbs of Doncaster where Caroline Flint lost her seat for Labour but I am told she was not popular with people.

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