As this Saturday was the first in a while that I've had to myself, I woke up early and resolved to make a particularly special effort to spend the day doing things that make me happy. One of these is to take a walk in Hyde Park around the Serpentine, maybe with a cup of tea, as my father and I sometimes do when he visits. When I got there, however, I discovered – to my horror – that the park was completely overrun with thousands of trade unionists. After turning down some free socialist literature (and hearing some uninspiring speeches blaming the banks for everything from sour milk to the Spanish Inquisition), to my surprise Ed Miliband appeared, looking, to his credit, pretty sharp and leader-like. So I stuck around.
After his introduction, met with boos and cheers in equal measure, he began to speak – and while his speech was easily the best on offer, trade union gatherings are not exactly known for brilliant, soaring oratory. Mr. Miliband tried to break that mold. He proclaimed that the day's protesters came "in the tradition of... the suffragettes who fought for votes for women – and won; the civil rights movement in America that fought against racism – and won; the anti-apartheid movement that fought the horror of that system – and won. The cause may be different but... we are standing on the shoulders of those who have marched and struggled for great causes in the past." The purpose of the day, he declared, was to "preserve, protect and defend the things we value" – those "things" being, specifically: "libraries, the Citizens Advice Bureau, the community centre," children's centres, and public sector jobs, "the fabric of our communities." [Continue reading]