It was a shite performance, a horrible throwback to the Blairite days of always being 'on message' and controlling the media, making sure they could only use one soundbite.
In fairness, he has expanded his argument a bit elsewhere, but it was infuriating to watch him repeat the same thing. Fuck's sake man, seize the moment, Talk To The Nation. Your point isn't a bad one. Run with it. You've got a privileged position where you get to access the media, I don't get to do that, and I've got lots of things I want to say. Stand aside, man, and let me hog the camera!
That said, the thinking behind the obstruction is clear enough - It's also worth noting that Red Ed is trying a rather transparent policy of Following The Public Mood - condemning the government for forcing the crisis and the unions for striking while a deal is still possible.
Courtesy of UK Polling Report:
On balance the public remain opposed to the government’s proposed changes to public sector pensions by 47% to 37%. However, while they oppose the pension changes, they also tend to oppose the strike – 40% of people support the teacher’s strike on Thursday, 49% of people oppose it. (2)Red Ed, his finger on the People's Pulse.
And there is something else to consider. Miliband has to watch his words because he knows the Conservatives, and the media, are desperate to portray him as some sort of barely reformed trotskyite dreaming of the 'Good old days' of the 1970s.
I think this sort of crap from the right is what is driving Miliband's tactics over the strikes:
But Cameron sought to steer the debate away from health and on to the union strikes due to be staged on Thursday.It's also worth noting that what Miliband did was pretty much what Cameron - and every other PM - does at Prime Minister's Question Time.
He accused Miliband of choosing not to ask him about the forthcoming industrial disruption because he was in the "pocket of the unions".
"That's what we see, week after week – he has to talk about the micro because he can't talk about the macro," the prime minister said.
"What the whole country will have noticed is, at a time when people are worrying about strikes, he can't ask about strikes because he is in the pocket of the unions." (3)
The Tories are desperate to link 'Red Ed,' the 'pawn of the unions' with these strikes, so they can bang the old Thatcherite drum, like he's a re-heated incarnation of Neil Kinnock. So - while it's not edifying, nor inspirational - Miliband's obstinate refusal to depart from the scripted line is understandable.
1 - "Ed Miliband TV interviewer reveals shame over 'absurd' soundbites," by Mark Sweney. Published in The Guardian, 1st of July, 2011. (http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2011/jul/01/ed-miliband-interviewer-shame-strike-soundbites)
2 - "Latest YouGov polling on teacher's strike," by Anthony Wells. Posted on UK Polling Report, 29th of July, 2011. (http://ukpollingreport.co.uk/blog/archives/3688)
3 - "David Cameron hits out at Ed Miliband in NHS row," by Helene Mulholland. Published in the Guardian, 29th of June, 2011. (http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2011/jun/29/david-cameron-ed-miliband-nhs-row?INTCMP=SRCH)