Photo: Andrew Winning (really), Reuters.
A quick word on yesterday's speech by the Labour leader.
I was very impressed, like everyone else, by the way he made an hour-long speech from memory without hesitation or repetition (well, perhaps there was some repetition), and by the gusto with which it was delivered.
But I didn't share in the general swoon it induced - the Ed-gasm - among the press and pundits, who seem to find it difficult to discount fully for the unusual way they consume these events: i.e, first-hand, swept up in the emotion of the hall. Watching from home, I don't think he came across, as many said afterwards, like a "prime minister-in-waiting".
For one thing, it's still mighty odd watching him speak, at least on TV. The stiff movements, the jerky hand-chopping, the eye-closing, the painfully ker-razy joking around ("So where's my speech?!").
For Miliband, confidence - and his surging confidence is the most impressive thing about him these days - is a mixed blessing. The more confident he gets, the more his rather idiosyncratic mannerisms come to the fore. The geek is unleashed, and it can be grating. (So is the preachy, hectoring sixth former, in full effect on the Today programme this morning.)
For another, you can hardly present yourself as the guy who disdains spin and photo-opportunities and soundbites and then make a speech that even some its enthusiasts confessed was substance-free, and which was over reliant on a trite soundbite that doesn't even stand for a coherent strategy ("One Nation").
It's not that he should have stuck loads of policy in - that would have been a terrible idea. But he could have sent signals that said this isn't politics as usual, or Labour as usual. He could have risked upsetting a few people in the hall, or controversy beyond it, by delivering some unexpected home truths. Like, the next government won't have the money to do the things Labour governments traditionally do. The big challenge will be how to do more with less.
Then again, there's no point in not being himself, and Miliband's natural inclination is to present himself as a generic Labour leader - the kind of guy of whom Polly Toynbee and Neil Kinnock and about 30% of the country can wholeheartedly approve. He's not interested in surprising or challenging his party, or voters.
The thing is, being a generic Labour leader might just, given the odd state of our politics at the moment, be enough to see him into Downing Street. But he won't be able to govern as one. So the sooner he stops pretending he can do so, the better. Waiting isn't a strategy.