Saturday, July 26, 2014

Whatever happened to the idea that Ed Miliband speaks human?

In view of Ed Miliband's speech yesterday in which he half apologised for the way he looks and the way he speaks, it is worth remiembering how he was sold to the Labour Party as a possible leader.

Here is Mehdi Hasan, who was soon to become his biographer, writing about Ed Miliband and the party's leadership contest in August 2010:
I remember the first time I realised Ed Miliband could be the next Labour leader. Standing in a packed room at the TUC's Congress House headquarters in January, at Ken Livingstone's Progressive London conference, I watched as the younger Miliband brother, clad in a fleece and jeans, inspired a captive audience of party members, Trots, anarchists, Greens and, yes, Liberal Democrats. 
Speaking without notes, the then climate change secretary passionately made the case for tackling global warming, despite the depressing deadlock at Copenhagen a month earlier. "He's awesome, isn't he?" whispered the young woman next to me, her eyes alight with excitement. 
Of all the Oxbridge candidates running for Labour leader, it is Ed Miliband who displays the common touch - or, in the words of Neil Kinnock, the "X-factor". "He has a special ability to lift spirits and motivate people - the capacity to inspire," says the former Labour leader. 
The younger Miliband's strategists and supporters have known from the start that this is their man's strongest selling point: his ability to reach out, in our new, plural era of coalition politics. Throughout this protracted contest, throngs of energised Ed Miliband supporters have descended on the various hustings holding placards proclaiming "Ed Speaks Human". 
Let us be clear: Ed M is not JFK. Nor is he the British equivalent of Barack Obama. But he does have the all-important ability to connect with ordinary people, especially the young, and to motivate and inspire them.
How strangely that passage reads now!

1 comment:

Stuart Bruce said...

Not so strange as Ed was indeed far more human, personable and normal than David. I remember being with Ed very late at night in the foyer of the Grand Hotel in Brighton at Labour Party conference in the mid-00s when he played the piano and led a sing-a-long.

However, while most people of whatever party 'grow into' the role of leader Ed has actually diminished and is far less impressive today than he was when he stood for leader. (Disclaimer I worked for Andy Burnham in the leadership campaign).