Friday, July 15, 2011

So Honest Ed was Victorious!

Let's recap on the past week and a bit:

* the Tories didn't want a judge-led enquiry - Ed forced them to accede to one
* the Tories didn't want the enquiry to start till after the police investigation was over (a few years down the line) - Ed forced them to agree to one starting now
* the Tories didn't want to refer the BSkyB bid to the Competition Commission - Ed kept up the pressure so that there was no was no option but to get the Competition Commission and Ofcom involved
*Finally, Ed arranged for a Commons vote to call on Murdoch to withdraw his bid altogether, and the Tories reluctantly accepted the Labour Whip, causing Murdoch to withdraw his bid. The demise of NOTW is just a bonus on top.

So now the post-mortem - why was Ed Miliband able to respond so quickly to events, leaving Cameron and Clegg in his dust, and as is clear to all observers, quicker than his brother David would have reacted had he been the leader.

It all goes back to the Labour leadership election. None of the newspapers backed his leadership bid, not even the Mirror. There was shock and fury in the media that the Labour electoral college had defied them and gone with their own instincts.

So Ed was beholden to no-one, apart from the Labour party, and could act freely.

Media endorsement is a double-edged sword - even if you know intellectually they are jumping on your bandwagon, a part of you wonders, did I get here because of their help? And of course the media plays on this feeling. Part of the reason why there have been campaigns in the papers in recent weeks against Ed Miliband's leadership is because they feel bereft as they have no leverage over him.

So that explains his ability to just go for it. The rest was skill.

There's something else: Ed Miliband may be what Napoleon referred to as a Lucky General.

During the Iraq war, he was not only not an MP, he was not a Parliamentary aide either - he was at Harvard teaching economics, and not in the loop at all. So that's the luck bit.

Then came the expenses scandal. He came through as one of the saints, with one of the lowest expenses in Parliament, because he only claimed for rent for a two-up-two-down in his constituency plus a bit of electricity. This at a time when both Cameron and Clegg were claiming three times as much. So that was down to innate honesty plus disinterest in money.

And then came the Murdoch hacking scandal - his initial reaction was down to revulsion (minutes after the story broke he summed it up saying "My wife said to me, this is sick, what is going on?", which echoed what everyone else was thinking at that moment. Then the luck bit again - he was not under obligation to anyone in the press, thanks to how things worked out in the Labour leadership election. So he took his opportunity to stand up to Muddoch and take him down, and skilfully played it out to the finish.

If he continues like this, it's a just a series of moves on the chessboard to Downing Street.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Honest Ed v the Dirty Digger

One of the most striking things about News at Ten was the comment from Nick Robinson saying that the Murdoch empire have said that "If Ed Miliband thinks he can win, he's about to be proved very wrong".

Clearly News International do not regard this as a battle between them and the political establishment, or them versus the law of the land, but them versus Ed Miliband.

How sweet of them to personalize this battle. Clearly they are the forces of evil (not to mention the forces of criminality). So if, according to them, Ed is their only opponent, then that means he stands alone on the side of the forces of good and the forces of decency. And I guess they would know who their true opponents are.

This is not the first time that Ed Miliband has been on the right side of a huge scandal. In the expenses debacle, he was one of the "saints", with one of the lowest expenses in parliament. They say that the mark of an honest man is that he does the right thing even when no one is looking.

His core character is decent and his instincts sound. I'm glad he got elected Labour leader.

As for News International - well Labour managed to force the emergency debate in the House of Commons against Tory wishes, and managed to force Cameron into conceding Ed Miliband's request for an enquiry. Now it looks like we might have forced U-turn Dave into delaying the BSkyB takeover. Go Ed!