King of the Mountains Award 2012

by George_East on January 21, 2013

king of the mountains shirt

This is a post by Jackie South which was originally posted on 2 January 2013 but which was lost from the site during our recent difficulties.  It is not clear whether the post is complete and unfortunately all comments on the post and any graphics originally posted have been lost.

Our King of the Mountains prize is awarded to the person whose reputation has made the most significant climb over the past year.

In 2010, this went to Uruguayan footballer Diego Forlan, for transforming from a mediocre player for Manchester United to one of the stars of that year’s World Cup. In 2011, it went to Angela Merkel, although not without much pleasure.  Nevertheless, in the course of that year she went from being a premier with approval ratings of a paltry 36% to the person who could effectively sack the leaders of other nations (Greece, Italy) and whose approval was needed for their replacements.  That made her the most powerful European leader since the fall of the Berlin Wall.

For 2012, we have our first British winner. But first, a digression. On Sunday, George East and I had our post-Christmas catch-up in front of the cinema screen, watching Argo.  At the end of the film, there is a voice-over about the real life events behind the film by President Jimmy Carter.  eGeorge and I reflected that Carter has had one of the most impressive post-presidential records and was probably the most decent and humane man ever to become President.  And that was the reason he was not an impressive President: he was too decent a person to be able to do the job effectively.

That brings us to our winner – someone who you could have said much the same about at the beginning of the year.

Ed Miliband started the year looking like someone uneasy in the job he had fought his brother for. Eddie the Unready. He had a truly terrible start to 2012, with the bungled announcement on not reversing the Coalition cuts and drawing comparisons to Iain Duncan Smith’s tenure as leader of the Conservatives.

During Pastie-gate, it was Ed Balls making the running whilst he looked a little lost and bewildered as his shadow chancellor bought him a sausage roll from Greggs. To make matters worse, Ed Balls culinary interests did not stop there.  Rumours circulated that the cycle of MPs being invited over for lasagna at Balls’ and Yvette Cooper’s home was to lay the grounds for the leadership of the latter. The knives (and forks) were out. But it was that disastrous Conservative budget that enabled Miliband to rediscover his mojo.  Labour’s position in the polls rose and the ten-point lead remained steady for the remainder of the year.

The May local election results began to look like they ought to if Labour are to have a chance in 2015, and Miliband was sensible enough to downplay them rather than exaggerate their importance. He found his footing at Prime Minister’s Questions, dealing with Cameron with a wit that got under the latter’s posh-boy skin, usually besting him at the despatch box.

The Corby by-election at last gave him the opportunity to win a parliamentary seat off the Conservatives, a test he met comfortably. The most important recovery though was his Conference speech. After 2011’s lacklustre attempt, he needed something special to quieten the critics. And special it was: an impressive speech from the heart without notes, a clever speech that stole the old moderate Tory ‘One Nation’ clothes and gave Labour a clear way ahead from the legacy of both Old and New Labour.

It was the best conference speech by a Labour leader I can remember. There is still much for Ed Miliband to do, and he is not fully out of the woods yet. But the task of becoming a credible Prime Minister in-waiting now looks an easier one than it did twelve months ago. Eddie now looks Ready. And for that, he justly deserves our King of the Mountains jersey.

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