Friday, 23 August 2013
High Noon for Ed Miliband
Something of John Major circa 1995 is called to mind when I read of the Labour grandees and yesterday's men opening fire on the beleaguered leader. They were all at it from Prescott to Glasman taking potshots from their Blairite book depository. So much does the leader differ from his Cheshire cat grinning predecessor that those who remember and hark for the 'good old days' of 'Cool Britannia' are now poised with their knives drawn to unleash on young Miliband come conference season.
There is something so similar to the background of John Major's forced leadership election in 1995 that history could be repeating itself and it might be time for Ed to challenge his party to 'put up or shut up', ironically the calibre of the current 'pretenders to the throne' is vaguely similar to that of those that Major faced.
In some respects I do feel sorry for Miliband minor, he's a man who would have done very well in the 60s and 70s. a political player of the old school, there is something about him that's reminiscent of Jim Callaghan, the vaulting ambition, the union man the 'crisis, what crisis?' attitude. He is not the Labour of the mind but the wreckless, outdated labour of the heart, full of emotion but little substance. This does not carry in some lobbies!
But Miliband should not be too worried by this sniping. He has one thing on his side that Major didn't: the bizarre leadership electoral system that indefinitely condemns the party to a flagging leader through its sheer complexity of threshold requirements. Mili Vanilla (for that is the flavour of ice cream he best personifies, miming the tune of the unions) can sleep safe for now knowing that his rebellious colleagues and party critics won't be able to muster the credible support needed to mount a challenge - it looks like the party will be stuck with him for the meantime.
It makes me laugh that the characters who have piped up with their tuppence worth are hardly the shining lights of the Labour Party policy process. Brian Wilson and Prezza are so craven in their attacks, they should look to their own records when speaking about competence and credible policies - if I was Ed the advice of these two coves would be the last thing I'd follow.
Furthermore it comes down to a matter of courage. The Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) are too scared to really stick the knife in, the young courtiers who skulk in the corridors of power have none of the flair, pantomime or style of a Michael Heseltine nor the brazen guts and single-mindlessness of a Tony Benn - coupled with that ruthless will that characterises both gentlemen. That is not to say that such a fellow won't arise one day...
For now, Ed Miliband should ignore his detractors until they come up with some credible policy - he know's the barrel is empty. It very much suits to stay quiet and buy your time, for, as I am sure Ed knows full well, better to be thought the fool than to open your mouth and confirm it.
My advice? A bold, daring conference speech, a clear vision (if not policy) and a thorough purge of the party are needed in order to guarantee the strong opposition which this parliament so desperately needs.