by Dan Hodges
We have to understand. We need to grasp what has just happened to the Labour party.
Ed Miliband did not have a bad week. He had a grotesque, cataclysm of a week.
When the Leader of the Opposition finds himself having to rebut charges he’s “weird” you know something is amiss. But if you spend the whole of your own conference rebutting you know the wheels are detaching. And by Thursday morning there were more wheels bouncing around Albert Dock than a formula one pit lane.
Rebutting the idea the NEC was going to move to have Tony Blair indicted for war crimes. That the party intended to licence journalists and kick out onto the streets those it caught misbehaving. That Ed Miliband planned to march into the Big Brother house and evict the lot of them.
And they were just the noises off. The fact Labour’s leader has no idea who his Scottish counterpart is was a mere footnote. The rapid unravelling of the tuition fees pledge a long forgotten irritant.
Just to put things into context, here are the responses from three shadow cabinet members to Ed’s speech on Tuesday. “I don’t understand what he was doing”, said one. “I feel physically sick”, said another. “I’m in shock”, said a third.
Those are members of a Labour shadow cabinet. Not minions of the Murdoch Empire, or Cameron cronies. Nor are they cartoon Blairites. They are serious politicians who want to see their party back in government. And they were, literally, in despair.
I just cannot understand Ed Miliband. He did not suddenly roll into town on a turnip truck, but worked at the very heart of the New Labour project. He may not have been a fundamentalist, and he saw at close hand the excesses and psychodramas.
But he is also a serious politician. He knows full well how an attempt to label elements of the business community as “predators” will be branded. What it means for a leader of the Labour party to turn his back on “consensus” politics. How, after a year of trying to cleanse the “Red Ed” stain, a speech which involved sticking two fingers up at the British establishment would be received. (more…)