Is anyone satisfied with his leadership?
With Nick Clegg’s Liberal Democrats receiving a pitiful 2.2% and losing their deposit in the Inverclyde by-election, and David Cameron’s government inspiring multi-union strikes and protests over pensions reform, it is simply astonishing that Ed Miliband is the major party leader under the most pressure at the moment.
With many on the Left furious that he has taken the line that “the strikes are wrong”, he has not helped his case with the single worst interview I’ve ever seen by a leading politician since Iain Gray was eaten alive on Newsnight. I watched it transfixed, wondering whether a Blair or a Cameron would even be capable of delivering such a wooden performance. Even Michael Howard, in giving Paxman the same answer 16 times, at least managed to vary the wording, the tone, the facial expression. This was the blandest automation of the political interview I’ve ever seen – creepier in its own way than Gordon Brown’s grinning-but-animated YouTube soliloquy.
Miliband’s decision-making isn’t necessarily askew – supporting the strikes (which, I’m told, would be the first time Labour have ever officially supported a strike) would only re-enforce that Ed Miliband is a TUC lackey, a position that the Conservatives would love him to adopt. Ending Shadow Cabinet elections is a necessity, not a luxury, if he is to stand a chance of winning an election in the next decade. I think the endorsement of the communitarian Blue Labour project is intellectually vacuous and vaguely unsavoury in its pandering to the white working class as though they still lived in the 1950s, but I can see the tactical thinking.
But even if one is to be generous towards the new-ish Labour leader, it is impossible to look at him in this interview and to see a world leader. The rote learning of the line, the artificial “I’m listening carefully” face that then has to prove itself disingenuous by giving way to a stock answer that proves he wasn’t listening at all, even the exceedingly odd angle of his collar which seems almost perpendicular to his tie: everything about Ed Miliband looks like a less-bright back office spin doctor, rather than a charismatic Prime Minister in Waiting.
I yield to few PBers in my dislike of the pugnacious Shadow Chancellor, but he is quick on his feet, relishes the combative interview, and is someone who is sufficiently passionate to be actually unable of such an anaemic media performance. If Ed Balls wants to show the party why he should be leader, he should play this video on loop.