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Wednesday 3rd October 2012 | 16:41
Ed Miliband underlined his new-found confidence with an easy-going Q&A session today.
He was so relaxed he uttered the word 'comrades' at one point (which you have to say is at least better than the anodyne 'friends') and won cheers for confirming he will be on the TUC march on on Oct 20.
When you add the fact that he's not ruling out rail nationalisation - on the BBC tonight - you can see an easy 'Red Ed' narrative building. The media honeymoon may be over after just one brief night of passion.
But there was another interesting section in the Q&A today. In response to a member of UCATT, Ed also pointed out that the party was working on getting more working class Parliamentary candidates selected.
This has long been a key demand of the unions and the Labour leader pointed to Jon Trickett's work to make the party more representative of all classes. (This and the 'Future Candidates' programme is something Iain McNicol highlighted in his interview with The House Labour conference special this week).
But what Ed failed to point out that it is now party policy - as of today - to take social class into account when selecting candidates.
In one of those bits of conference that is easily overlooked these days, the party voted on a raft of rule changes just before lunchtime that attracted zero media attention.
One rule change in particular had been hotly debated at the NEC. Carried by an overwhelming vote today, it reads:
"The Party will take action in all selections to encourage a greater level of representation and participation of groups of people in our society who are currently under-represented in our democratic institutions. In particular, the party will seek to select more candidates who reflect the full diversity of our society in terms of gender, race, sexual orientation and disability, and to increase working class representation".
Note that last section "full diversity of our society....working class representation".
It turns out the working class phrase was pushed hard not by Red Ed but Red Ken. Ken Livingstone (reelected to the NEC) persuaded colleagues to adopt the phrase 'working class' instead of the vaguer 'socio-economic groups' included in an earlier draft.
The NEC meeting where this was thrashed out on Sunday featured a discussion of the class issue. Luke Akehurst (not a pal of Ken's) tried to make the point that 'working class' didn't capture all the groups the party need to attract, like RAF officers for example. He was making the point that the party, prodded by Jim Murphy has been pushing for more candidates from a military background of late. (Dan Jarvis has proved a good role model).
Akehurst's intervention caused some mirth on the part of some on the NEC, with someone pointing out that you could be in the military and be working class at the same time. Mary Turner pointed out that someone in her familly had been in the RAF and working class. However, it was all light-hearted banter and not a bitter dispute, one source tells me.
There are some in the party who believe that getting more working class candidates is actually a good way to get more 'common sense' into the party and that some unions* are wrong in assuming that 'working class' always means 'left wing'.
Either way, the party now has a rule which will make it easier for CLPs to resist the pressure to select parachuted former special advisers in key seats. Note that Miliband today said it was 'upto CLPs' to select more working class candidates.
Class war may not be back, but class looks like it is.
*FOOTNOTE:Unite today declared that there were too many lawyers, PRs and professional media types selected as Labour MPs. The irony is that Unite is the union that represents those very groups - it inherited the MSF's white collar trade unionists when they were all merged together.
It's also worth pointing out that the rule change should make it likelier the party selects more ethnic minority and gay and lesbian candidates.
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