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.


jams o donnell said...

The hacking scandal has at last given Miliband the chance to shine. Had he made a hash of it (and it was an open goal) then I would have ben happy to have seen him toppled.

He has a long way to go to go if he is going to win the next election for Labour (as opposed simply to the tories losing it!).

But still you have to hand it to Ed his performance during the scandal has been impressive.

You do make a good point about him being beholden to none but the party. Had he, say, sucked up to the Murdochs then he would have truly been in the clarts now!

Jack Reynard said...

He has certainly made Cameron look like a prize chump. Milliband may yet be PM by the end of 2012.