Unlike John Rentoul (bias political commentator for the Independent - not even party bias, Blairite bias!) I will not make a habit of calling Ed Miliband childish names. I've had a while to think on it now so I wanted to give my two cents regarding his opening speech and on him in general.
First I do find it a little rich that a 40 year old classes himself as a new generation, and then goes to say that the new generation has nothing to do with age. It is a strange set of affairs when a generation isn't even generational.
I did like the fact that he spoke more about himself. Many people have been critical of this, that there wasn't enough policy, however he didn't even have his shadow cabinet so how could he have been expected to form detailed policy. Most of those who had been critical were from the right wing media, who seem to have conveniently forgotten that David 'chameleon' Cameron had no policies for a long time after he was appointed leader of the opposition - in fact they hardly had any in the general election campaign!
I totally object to the following line:
"And let me tell you, there is nothing good about opposition."
Opposition is a crucial part of our political system, it is needed to scrutinise government policies and make those in government think about alternate points of view. The good thing about opposition is that you were still elected to represent your constituencies and put across their points of view in parliament.
It was good to see him publicly denouncing strikes, however his overall views on the deficit didn't go far enough. Yes he said they wouldn't oppose all cuts but there seemed to be no real grasp on the fact that the situation is so bad because of the Labour Governments budget deficits before the crisis. That was a time when the country was going through an economic boom with good growth, as such the government should have been saving rather than expecting this to continue exponentially. Don't get me wrong, he is a step up from Ed Balls in this regard, however I don't see him advocating deficit reduction enough.
It is also good to see him publicly back AV, hopefully this means he will put the Labour Whip onto it, with Labour actively campaigning for it. This is the only possible way I can see it happening. It would be a massive chance missed if we fail to change the voting system. Nobody really knows what it would do to the results, it could reinforce the two party system or totally break it down, but it has to be better to have an MP that most of the public prefer and as such it's a step closer towards PR.
A negative is that he states that to change Britain we need new politics. He seems to have failed to notice that we have a peace time coalition government who wouldn't naturally work together. That is new politics.
Also he seems to think that people will have forgotten about the past 13 years and that he was a part (since 2005) of the Government who oversaw the biggest invasion into our personal/social freedoms. He voted for ID cards and other invasions and doesn't appear to regret all of them! In addition to this he also voted to reduce scrutiny on Government actions and was for nuclear power. He may argue that he was bound by collective responsibility which to an extent I can understand.
This however makes me wonder about his anti Iraq stance. If he always felt bound by collective responsibility (only ever 3 votes against the Labour majority vote) would he have been as against Iraq as he claims. Again, it is good that the leader of the opposition is now taking the stance that the Lib Dems have always taken, that the Iraq war was wrong - but I don't think he'd have voted against it. There hasn't been a vote cast by Ed that has been against the war/for an inquiry into it etc. This brings me to my main problem with the Labour party:
David Miliband: "Why are you clapping, you voted for it"
Harriet Harman: "Because he's leader"
No Harriet, that's the wrong answer. The correct answer is: "Although I believed it to be the correct decision at the time with the information available it has subsequently become apparent that we made the wrong choice". People like Harriet are incapable of admitting they were wrong, she is not alone on this, but quite clearly she is a person who will just echo the leader's opinions in public and probably in private in order not to hamper her own career.