Some words of advice and sympathy for Ed Miliband

by Ray_North on August 23, 2013

ed-milibandIf I were in Ed Miliband’s shoes, I’d now be thinking, what is the point, I’d then, probably invite a couple of the lads out for a beer down my local put a few tunes on the jukebox and get thoroughly pissed.
Sadly for Ed, if he did that, it would probably be in the newspapers tomorrow – ‘Red Ed, in six pints of bitter shame,’ or something equally fatuous.

And therein lies the problem for the leader of the opposition – he can’t behave like many others might, he has to be seen to be beyond reproach in every aspect of his life, his character has to be flawless – spiritually, mentally, intellectually, even physically (the poor sod had his adenoids done, because the Tories were baying at him).

And his policies have to similarly ‘beyond reproach’ and being beyond reproach, that means beyond the hysteria that would generated by the Tories and the Tory press if he said what he really believed.

I feel a certain natural regard Ed Miliband (a friend of mine recently suggested that we’d both met him at a DEMOS function back in the day, even going as far as saying that we’d had a game of pool in a bar afterwards, but, I have no recollection of this) – I reckon that if I sat down with him, there wouldn’t be much we’d disagree with.

I reckon that I’d say something about there being a need to fundamentally change our economy so that we are less reliant upon the banking and financial services industry, and he’d probably agree. I reckon that we’d agree about the need to reform further and higher education to expand vocational qualifications that can be obtained with the help and funding of industry, and about the need to find new ways of funding academic post-school education to ensure that children from less privileged backgrounds are able to study academic subjects at top universities for free; I reckon we’d agree on the need to draw away from the privatization of the NHS; and to invest in green energy. I think he’d agree with me that we have gone too far in the erosion of basic civil liberties and that, at the end of the day a referendum on our continued inclusion in Europe would be disastrous. He may even agree with me on basic reforms of our voting system and second chamber. And, when I told him that I thought that austerity was the economics of an imbecile despite the slight improvement in our economic performance – I put money on him, saying, ‘Ray, you’re absolutely right, taking all demand out a struggling economy is ridiculous.’

I’d go away happy. I’d go away thinking – well, he’s got my vote, what a decent fella.
But, alas, Ed would not go away with the same positive ‘up and at em’ feeling of confidence, rather, he would leave knowing that if he stated in public the matters upon which we agreed, he’d get lynched. Profligate, he’d be called, a profligate and liberal lover of foreigners and terrorists. In the House, David Cameron supported by the braying crowd of wide-eyed loonies who populate the Tory benches, will attack him for failing to accept the need for austerity and giving the people a chance to vote on Europe, and, massive improvements in education etc and, the clip on the 10o’clock news would show Cameron in his full blooded purple faced pomp.

And as the Tories become more confident and secure, the whispering voices of the Blairites will start to
remind Ed how, in the 1990’s Labour won by moving to the centre. And, before you know it, Ed is being pilloried by all and sundry.
And after all, Labour knows that, psephologically, it will win a certain number of seats regardless of whether it’s policy thrust is to the right or to the left.

So, what does he do?

Does Ed follow what he believes in, or does he play it safe?

My instinct is to be brave. My instinct is to win the argument, be bold in the debate and say what you
really feel; I believe that politicians should be leaders of men just as much as followers of public opinion.

But, I can appreciate that it is easy for me to say be bold – I am not the one who is haunted by the specter of the 1983 general election.

But, if Labour can’t be bold who can?

It is clear that we are not going to get a progressive manifesto from the Lib-Dems, those days have gone – so it is left to the Labour party to carry the flame for those who believe in equality and opportunity for all rather than the mindless dash for massive wealth and profit at all cost that currently fuels our system of economics and politics.

Of course, the ‘realists’ will say, well, hold on, to do all those things, you need power and to get power you need to be centrist. Well, I’m not sure. True, the perception inside Westminster is that you need to be in the centre to win power, but the reality is perhaps different – because outside Westminster the overwhelming view of voters is not – I want my politicians to be ‘centrists’ the overwhelming view is, I want my politicians to be relevant – and to do that, to be relevant, Labour and Ed Miliband, cannot shy away from the argument, voters know mealy mouthed policies, they can see them a mile off – voters know a politician who is posturing, or who is espousing the policy that the focus group came up with rather than something that they believe in.

And not just that, if Labour is making the arguments that it believes in a coherent and passionate way, then, ok, they might get a hiding from the right wing press (that’s going to happen anyway), but, they will contribute towards raising the political debate in the UK above the current standard which is akin to a group of toddlers standing by a sandpit wondering who’s going to get the next go with the spade.
So, Ed, please, don’t be depressed be angry, don’t be mild, be brave, don’t be formulaic, be instinctive and, for the love of god, say what you believe.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

George_East August 23, 2013 at 4:43 pm

Good piece.

I fear that they have boxed themselves in over their pledge to match Tory spending plans. They thought it would give them credibility, in fact it has simply meant that they have lost the argument.

As you say the right wing press is going to go after them anyway – with an election in sight, I think that it explains a fair amount of the piling in over the summer – weakening the beast for slaughter (just like Kinnock in 92). Having said that the numbers are really not on the Tories’ side (at least for an overall majority).

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Geoff Elliott August 23, 2013 at 9:48 pm

Psephologically? You’ve had the dictionary out Ray! Milliband needs to get a grip, and very soon, or a Tory majority, however much the stats are against it, is going to become a reality.

I’m vey scared. Only Yvette Cooper brings me any sort of confidence.

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George_East August 24, 2013 at 12:19 am

Geoff, I don’t want to sound overly-complacent, not least because Labour are hardly inspiring confidence at the moment, but the Tory prospects of an overall majority are pretty low given the numbers. If you work on the basis the Labour will do better than under Gordon Brown (almost certain) then that 7 point lead the Tories need seems like a stretch. I just can’t see Cameron getting 40% – and if he can’t then an overall majority is v unlikely.

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