Saturday Ramble: A Marxist Tory and a jolly optimist?
Ed Miliband’s declamation of intent last week was notable for its energetic delivery and attempt to hijack the Tory idea of One Nation, previously attributed to Benjamin Disraeli. It won ecstatic support from many quarters of the Left-liberal media.
Such speeches are best reflected on for a day or two before arriving at a definitive opinion. Reading the transcript is also advisable to put distance between text and performance. The overall impression now is surprisingly different from the almost instantaneous general consensus.
It emerges rather like blue wallpaper starting to peel showing small patches of an older red decoration. It’s not pretty. Ed Miliband unwittingly presented himself as a Marxist Tory, a hopeless cross that will never survive in the real world.
He is thus revealed as a thoroughgoing Marxist with a suspicious habit of concealing his real views on many issues. Who else would praise that old monster, spymaster Eric Hobsbawm, a man who believed the Soviet “Radiant Way” was worth the estimated 35 million souls who were effectively slaughtered by Stalin to industrialise Russia in the 1930s?
He can’t have it both ways. If Hobsbawm is a Socialist hero of his, Miliband shares his guilt by association.
On Andrew Marr’s show, the interviewer had constantly to correct his version of events, such as “debt is going up”. Debt is undoubtedly going up because Labour’s monstrous deficit will take much longer than two years to bring down. It will continue to raise the overall debt level until it is eliminated. He must have known this. Miliband later complained that “he couldn’t set out his stall”. It’s not much of a stall if it contains deliberately misleading information.
In a later Today programme interview he squabbled with the presenter throughout, leaving an unpleasant taste in the mouth. Prime ministerial? Definitely not.
Looking beyond the gurning performance of his speech, which was littered with the weirdest glottal stops I’ve heard, it was the creed of a student revolutionary in 1960s France. “We have no policies only demands,” was the cry of its leader, Daniel Cohn-Bendit, “Danny the Red”, not a million miles from Red Ed.
I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t like to trust him as British Prime Minister. David Cameron may have his flaws, but if he can raise his chillaxed game and touch a few electoral nerves, we might get to admire him all over again.
As I wrote in another context: “… complacency will destroy the Tories before the end of this Parliament. Doesn’t anybody think things through? Some backbone and clarity are needed. Drift should not be an option.”
Since then we’ve had the West Coast rail franchise fiasco calling into question all the other tenders and the high-speed railway proposal. Cameron needs to prevent these self-inflicted gunshot wounds to the foot.
In his keynote speech to Conference, Dave needs a few distinctive policies that will warm the hearts of real Conservatives outside the beltway, and a lot more humour. A return to the jolly optimism of his early days as Leader.
There’s still hope for the Tories if he can find the right projection of policy and tone. Ed Miliband has just made it easier for him.