Thursday, 16 April 2015

Ed Miliband

A long, but worthwhile read by Rafeal Behr, about the man who will be the next Prime Minister of Britain.

(Or might not be.)

You can fault Ed Miliband for lots of things, but you can't say he hasn't got guts.

He's gone through five years of demonisation and attacks, from pretty much everyone, from the reasonable (You're pretty boring! You're too right wing!) to the preposterous (You can't eat a bacon sandwich like a human being!) to the downright evil (Your dad hated Britain).

And he just kept on through it all.

However, though the article makes something of Miliband's underlying radicalism, it also notes how his tendency to hear too many voices blunts it:
But often his modus operandi was to bring more people into the room, harvesting contradictory opinions and letting them simmer before acting. It was a system that, according to one contributor, “rarely resulted in a choice being made that was more radical at the end than at the beginning of the process”.
Miliband comes across as a man with strong principles and an apparently bottomless fund of self-belief.  But at the same time he also too often seems awkward and technocratic and forced.  It's hard to distinguish what is the real Ed Miliband - the glimpses of a passionate, committed and articulate progressive Behr describes, or the goofy, superior, inflexible academic that we see at other times.

I like to think the latter is just a media caricature, but sometimes the image can become the reality.

And, worryingly, I can recall, an interview with another ambivalent Labour leader on the verge of power.  Way back in the 90s, just before his stupendous landslide, Tony Blair featured in a similar write up, assuring his readers that he would be far more radical when in government than was saying he would be in when in opposition.  I remember experiencing  twin shivers when I read it - one of excitement that he might actually mean what he said (that hope was soon dashed) and the other of unease that this was a man who would say anything his audience wanted to hear, had no scruples and held everyone in contempt (this one, alas, was rapidly confirmed).

We got the rotten Tony back then,  We got the rotten Gordon Brown (raving psychopath rather than  mercurial financial wizard) and we got the rotten David Cameron (sneering snob rather than modernizer).  Form suggests we'll get the rotten Ed Miliband - detached, aloof, awkward and befuddled.

But maybe we're overdue the good one.

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