Magazine article The Spectator

Why I'm Terrified of Ed Miliband

Magazine article The Spectator

Why I'm Terrified of Ed Miliband

Article excerpt

I've been trying quite hard to come up with some imagery for just how bad Ed Miliband is at being in charge of the Labour party. My best suggestion so far is that he's leading as though he's falling out of a building, desperately issuing responses and policy announcements before he hits the ground. It's not perfect, I know. You'd want him to pass backwards through a hedge on the way down, ideally, and he'd also have to fall with petulance, which is quite tricky to visualise.

My point being, anyway, it's not going well. Even when one makes an allowance for the hostile environment in which Miliband finds himself (one in which nobody voted for him, rates him or wants him) his performance, still, by any measure, is dire. There he stands, on TV or at the dispatch box. Collar skew-whiff, hair like a seven-year-old, droning on about whatever in that weird voice we never realised he had, which sounds like he has two tongues in his mouth each battling for supremacy. Did you hear him on the radio last week, doing that phone-in with Jeremy Vine? Dear God. To think that, only a few months ago, people used to talk about him as the more charismatic Miliband.

It almost beggars belief.

Maybe we're not seeing the real Ed, in the same way we apparently never saw the real Gordon. Although maybe we are.

Because, really, we should have seen this coming. Remember his unofficial campaign slogan? 'Ed speaks human.' Was that really the best his supporters could muster? Not Ed is human, please note. That would be too much to ask. He just speaks it. But my mobile phone speaks Mandarin. Mr Spock spoke English. So bloody what?

As a Tory, one might feel tempted to gloat about this. That's how it felt when the shoe was on the other foot, wasn't it? When the Conservative party was led by that succession of incompetent bald men (I clearly remember two; were there more? ) one got the sense that the Labour party were almost killing themselves with glee. Although speaking as somebody who isn't quite a Tory, but is probably more one than he is anything else (Christ, Rifkind. Grow a spine), I actually feel closer to terrified.

Competent government requires competent opposition. Vince Cable may appear to be in the throes of an advanced midlife crisis right now, but one thing he said in his more recent spasms made a lot of sense.

There is indeed an air of Maoist revolution about the coalition; simultaneous colossal upheavals in health, education, police, welfare, defence and everything else, where all that went before is suspect and must be swept away. …

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