Life: Left of Centre

On Ed

Posted on: February 26, 2012

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It seems as though almost everyone – both inside and outside of the political sphere – has had their say on Ed Miliband. So here are my two pennies…

As some of you will know I both voted for him in 2010’s Labour leadership elections, but I was also proudly one of the first young activists to get behind the ‘EM4 Leader’ campaign, which took it from 40% behind Ed’s brother David, into first place by the finest of margins. And of course it’s that very margin that has come back to haunt Ed time and again over these past two years – which he could do nothing about. Trade Union members are just as valuable to the Labour movement as Party members. Rightly so – if you know your history.

I back him still today. I’m not one to run from principles – as too many of us seem to be nowadays. We change our convictions and our faith like we do our clothes or our moods. I see the same man, full of passion – fiercely intelligent, with a desire to remake society in a way that respects the traditions of a ‘good society’, but looks to the future for innovative solutions to our social problems. One founded on equality, fraternity, hard work, fairness and just reward. A true meritocracy.

It’s this same reformist zeal with which he has taken to ‘refound’ Labour, on those same very principles, with admittedly mixed results. We have new structures, more flexibility – and therefore opportunity – for members to feed into policy-making and shape the party in their image. But those new ideas and exciting notions of tomorrow’s society in Britain just aren’t reaching the top.

For me, it’s not the call of ‘Red Ed’ or questions over Ed’s charisma or appearance on camera that are the genuine concern. It’s his lack of conviction at crucial times. His failure to stay the course when it counts, continuing the leadership and energy that put him on the side of real people, facing real economic challenges, as he did during the ‘phone-hacking’ scandal and in fronting the “March for the Alternative’.

Not simply a lack of consistency (which as Mitt Romney knows only too well can come back to haunt you) but a lack of confidence and conviction in what made him a success, and got him to where he is today, as Leader of the Opposition – a critical role at a critical point is this country’s history, with the both ideological and casual, laissez-faire attitude that this Conservative-led government has unleashed on our society and economy, in equal measure.

To quote a favourite television series of those of us on the Left, the West Wing: “Let Bartlett be Bartlett” (referring, for those that don’t know the series quite as well as some of us do, to Martin Sheen in his role as President of the United States of America).

At times such as these Ed has to be Ed: energetic, intellectual, wilful, persistent, detailed – with a poetic yet withering style that connects and empathises with people across the UK, while taking dead aim at the smug, self-deluded, out of touch Conservative Party and their Liberal Democrat allies.

That’s the way forward for Ed, if Labour is to win under his leadership. But time is running out, and the people of this country need a champion now more than ever. It’s now or never.

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