Thursday, 17 June 2010

Ed is Dead

... Is the title of a great Pixies song, and pretty much sums up my feelings towards Ed Miliband's leadership campaign.

Miliband dodged my question on proportional representation - which was voiced by others as well. I wasn't surprised, but you live in hope.

It was a very bland performance (1). Ed Miliband believes in 'values' - which is nice - and even mentioned what some of these values are - "equality including narrowing the gap between rich and poor, fairness where everybody is looked after and people who make a contribution to our society are properly rewarded, the dignity of work where if you work, you don't find yourself in poverty and also values beyond work: love, time, compassion, a sustainable planet," but it all seems so bland. No-one would say they were against any of these things, they are so vanilla, and so vaguely defined. Narrowing the gap between rich and poor, for example - by raising taxes, increasing the minimum wage, credits or what?

And another thing, while avoiding questions on important stuff like Iraq and PR, and so on, he managed to answer the same question - basically, "You've never had a proper job, what qualifies you to be leader?" - several times over. Which either means he thinks he's got a lot to justify, or he's dodging hard questions in favour of personal stuff. Neither of which really inspires, or makes me 'aspire' (see? I was listening!) to vote for him ...

Asked about the qualities a good leader needed, he identified, "empathy, toughness, idealism, ability to listen, judgement."

Well, he showed his ability to selectively listen to the questions and exercised judgment in skipping the ones he didn't like ... I suppose he was tough enough to ignore people who were so rude as to keep asking them, though I'm struggling to fit 'empathy' into his performance, since he didn't seem to care much for what we, the people were asking him about.

The only reply I liked was the made in reply to a question about his father, a noted Marxist intellectual. the suggestion in the question was that he had betrayed his father's ideals. I detected genuine anger there, instead of the soporific rote responses to other questions. Let the rage out a bit more, Ed, and you might be in with a chance of distinguishing yourself from the Bland that has colonized the upper echelons of the party. You might make the odd mistake or say something silly if you do, but it will be better for you - and your campaign - over all.

Have to say, this whole exercise is a bit facile and pointless. Letting the candidates pick and choose the questions to answer is dopey. We're seeing nothing but blandspeak, though I suppose the medium might be the message in this case. Depressing to see how little was said, and how predictable it was. I'm becoming increasingly unhappy at the lacklustre candidates we've got on offer, to the point I'd consider voting Lib Dem next time round, in the hope of getting more Tory Lite, rather than risk voting labour and letting in the Tories with a majority ...

And that, Ed, is why First Past The Post is a bad thing and you should support proportional representation.

Sorry, Ed, but just an hour ago I quite liked you. Now I'm tearing my hair and thinking "What has the Labour party done to deserve this slate of monotonous, oleaginous smarm merchants contending for the top job?"

(That said, Ed Balls was much better the day before, actually addressing questions directly, gamely listing the five biggest failures of Labour's time in office, and showing a bit of humour, promising to renege on all promises and abandon his manifesto if elected ... just like Nick Clegg (2).)

And, because that's left me feeling thoroughly unhappy, here's the Pixies singing Ed Is Dead (3):

1 - "Labour leadership candidate Ed Miliband: live webchat," unattributed article. Published 17th of June, 2010. (
2 - ""Labour leadership candidate Ed Balls: webchat," unattributed article. Published 16th of June, 2010. " (
3 - 'Ed is Dead,' performed by The Pixies. Posted on You Tube by KoolMix32, 30th of December, 2008. (

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