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Ed Miliband’s Relaunch Was More of a Whimper Than a Bang, Says Everyone

Posted on the 11 January 2012 by Periscope @periscopepost

Ed Miliband’s relaunch was more of a whimper than a bang, says everyone

Ed Miliband: Android or adept? Photocredit: EdMIliband[email protected]/5427442373/sizes/z/in/photostream/

Ed Miliband, the leader of the Labour party, has relaunched himself with a speech designed to chart Labour’s future in a world, using his own words, where the next prime minister “will still have a deficit to reduce, and will not have money to spend.” He wants fairness “hard-wired” into the economy; he also wants lower travel fares, lower tuition fees, and a tax on bankers. But is the little brother of Dave Miliband doing himself any favours?

It’s the public’s fault. Matthew Norman in The Independent said that Miliband’s only flaw is really being Ed Miliband. He shows talent in managing the egos of his “underlings” and in building policy. Miliband’s relaunch was deft and intelligent – but he “might has well have spoken in Klingon,” since the country has taken one look at his face and discounted him immediately. Miliband should adapt the plot of Roxanne, in which the ugly but witty character feeds lines to a prettier one in order to win a lady’s love. But that’s hard to do. He’s “sullenly tolerated by his base because there is no alternative, but loved by non and an animatronic turn-off to decisive swing voters.” But he just has to “keep buggering on.”

No, it’s Labour itself. The Telegraph view was sniffy: Miliband is good at finding where the public is concerned – the pressure on the “squeezed middle”; the financial system – but he can’t sell solutions for toffee. There was just a general, vague promise to “hard-wire” “fairness into the economy.” In any case, Miliband’s not the problem – it’s what he’s representing that is. He didn’t apologize for Labour’s “building up the deficit.” And ultimately, unless Labour can sort out the “contradictions within its economic position, it will hardly be able to convince the public of its fitness to govern.”

No, Miliband’s a fool. Simon Heffer in The Daily Mail put the knife in – Miliband’s “the most dismal leader of a main party” he’d seen in “nearly 30 years of writing about politics.” He’s even coming behind Nick Clegg in the popularity stakes. And we need a proper Opposition to scrutinise the Coalition. Labour made a mess of the economy, and Miliband is patronising the electorate by pretending that our troubles are down to the Coalition. He needs to take the blame before he can be taken seriously. He’s not even saying that he won’t resume chucking money at the public sector. He’s just got no idea about the economy. Simply for the sake of democracy, Labour should “show Mr Miliband the door.”

“He is as clunky as a clod-hopping clog dancer from Kloosterzande,” said Quentin Letts about Ed Miliband.

A total fool. He looked ridiculous, scoffed Quentin Letts, also in The Daily Mail. His feet were like “frogman’s flippers.” He claimed to want to set out his principles – but he’s been leader for more than two years, shouldn’t he have done that already? His manner was “one of overdone jocularity with flashes of resentment.” After an hour he was even “getting the sweats.” But at least his “core concession” – “a lurch to the right” – is a welcome one.

His own party needs to give him a chance. He’s also been relentlessly attacked by New Labourites, said Seumas Milne in The Guardian’s Comment is Free. But he did, “more or less”, hold his own. It’s ridiculous to focus on his appearance – he can change, as did Margaret Thatcher. It’s the Blairites who resent him, and as long as they continue to threaten him, he’ll remain weak. He needs to “pick a fight with a leading Blairite and win,” then build up some proper policies.  And Cameron is listening to him, said Polly Toynbee in the same paper – look at his acceptance of executive pay. Miliband’s message is “important,” as “[s]ocial democratic values are more vital in hard times.”

He needs to rethink what Labour’s for. But he’s not making his case very clearly, said The Times editorial. He’s saying that the way British capitalism distributes its rewards is unfair, and that capitalism should be “reformed so that its outcomes reflect an ethic of responsibility.” It’s not “a foolish case.” He’s also right in arguing that the government should be more active pursuiing growth. But his speech won’t do much to change his fortunes, because there are gaps in his case. The simple fact of the matter is that he lacks economic credibility. And also he doesn’t know what to do to change Labour’s “profligate ways.” He needs to answer a serious question: “in the absence of money, what is the Labour Party for?”

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