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Analysis: Jon Cruddas' Ethos Permeates Ed Miliband's English Nationalism Speech

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JOHN CRUDDAS NATIONALISM ENGLISH
Jon Cruddas Is Leading Labour's National Policy Review | PA

It hasn't taken long for the influence of Jon Cruddas to be felt in Labour's attempts to reposition itself as a party with broad appeal.

Less than a month after the Labour MP for Dagenham was given the job of shaping Labour's policy direction, out comes a speech by Ed Miliband which, without meaning to sound disparaging, has Cruddas' fingerprints all over it.

Cruddas, for example, was talking to HuffPost about the need for an English national anthem as recently as April. And the subtext of Ed Miliband's latest speech is similar to what Cruddas told us back then; Labour needs to stop pussy-footing around what is a genuine and heartfelt concern among the English that their national identity is not being nurtured or protected by politicians.

SEE ALSO: Ed Miliband To Warn Against 'Narrow' Nationalism Among English

The Labour leader has picked what is - so far - a fairly quiet news day in UK politics, to signal that his party needs to get back in touch with the feelings of ordinary English voters. And Miliband's warning against a "narrow" definition of English nationalism is almost parroting what Cruddas was talking about before he replaced Liam Byrne as Labour's head of policy review in May.

This all comes amid some interesting talk from the Labour front-bench in recent weeks on related themes. Last month the government admitted it was way off-target in its mission to reduce net migration to the UK to below 100,000. Labour went berserk, even though in power it had scoffed at the idea of setting anything like such a target.

It all points toward a sense that the "Blue Labour" movement championed by people like Maurice Glasman and Jon Cruddas is gaining influence at the top of the party, and that the more Blairite progressive movement is sort-of out of favour.

It's just a speech, and like most Ed Miliband speeches will probably be forgotten about by lunchtime (when Cameron meets Merkel in Berlin and the fireworks really start). As so often with a Miliband speech there is no new policy here, it's all about the mood music.

Miliband will one day have to answer the more difficult questions - like what is your view of the multiculturalism approach championed by New Labour? Would you set a target for net migration? And while we're talking about it, what would you chose for an English national anthem? Perhaps someone might ask these sorts of things in the Q&A session after the speech.

There's another element to this speech which is worth pointing out. It's a reminder that Labour are going to have to do a lot of the heavy lifting in the cross-party campaign to urge Scots to reject independence in the referendum likely to happen in October 2014.

We already know that it'll be Alastair Darling who will lead this campaign and that Tories are smart enough to know they'd probably only help the SNP if they got involved too much. But it seems like Ed Miliband senses a possible win for his party - because it's still the case that Labour can make a decent go of saying they're a UK-wide movement, something the Tories have almost given up all hope of trying to be.

With the polls currently suggesting Scots would vote No if they were given the chance today, it could be something that gives Labour a massive boost, six months before the date of the next general election. But that assumes the referendum goes Labour's way - so it's a strategy that's not without its risks.

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