by Samuel Dale
The tragedy of Ed Miliband is that he shrewdly identified many of the key problems facing Britain today with his responsible capitalism agenda and focus on inequality.
This analysis allowed him to set the political weather at times because he could capture the public mood on booming energy prices or tax avoidance.
But his progress came to a shuddering halt when he outlined his crude solutions. Freezing energy prices and controlling rents were a fundamental misunderstanding of how markets and business works.
He alienated friendly business that would have supported changes and the voters did not believe him. So he failed.
And now to the real tragedy. The victorious Conservative party is stealing his analysis and coming up with their own solutions.
Centrist Tory projects and groupings such as the Good Right and Renewal are seeking to tackle the excesses of private companies and a wealthy elite. A responsible capitalism.
Former Number 10 head of strategy Steve Hilton’s new book More Human could almost have been written by Ed Miliband in its calls for radical change. He criticises big supermarkets, banks and other “private sector bureaucracies” for the way they treat customers, workers and suppliers.
Cameron clearly buys into these ideas too after reclaiming the One Nation mantle on May 8. He has also, significantly, appointed Robert Halfon as deputy chairman.
Halfon is one of the most interesting Conservative MPs with calls for the party to attract trade unionists alongside successful campaigns to cut fuel duty and the way companies treat customers. He has even flirted with renaming the Tories the Workers Party.
There is also George Osborne’s Northern Powerhouse aiming to boost the northern economy and win back Tory support in the Labour heartlands.
This is the real rebranding of the Tory party and a prime minister with no more elections to fight who wants to build his legacy.
It is stealing Ed Miliband’s inequality and responsible capitalism analysis but aiming to provide solutions that are not as clumsy and unrealistic as price freezes.
Miliband is a fan of Teddy Roosevelt but it is worth remembering that he was a Republican and his battles against monopolies were won from the right.
In the 1900s he used the fear of a left-wing Democratic party to dominate the centre, take on big business and become the most popular President in generations.
Roosevelt’s catchphrase was to “speak softly and carry a big stick” while Miliband seemed to shout loudly while carrying the little stick of opposition.
Politics does not stand still and the Tories are ramming home their advantage with changes to boundaries, voting rules and party funding.
After boundary changes the Labour party will need a 12.5% swing to win a majority. That is already more than Tony Blair in 1997 but if you add in the mix that the Tory leadership is trying to win over the remaining Labour moderates too then it is a dangerous moment.
The Tories can move to the centre confidently after winning a majority despite Ukip gaining 12% of the popular vote.
As some in Labour debate moving further into the abyss of left-wing irrelevance the Tories are doing everything they can to win yet again in 2020.
Of course there are right-wing fruitcakes on the Tory backbenches who feel the pull of Ukip and want to bang on about Europe, welfare and immigration. A wafer-thin majority could be a never-ending source of problems.
And it could all blow up in their faces when the reality of welfare cuts bite or parliamentary battles over Europe make them look like lunatics again.
But the Tory leadership is ambitious. They know the country chose Cameron because of fear over Miliband and the SNP rather than love of the Tory party.
It is planning to use the current parliamentary session, and especially the July Budget, to once more set the political weather while Labour fights a leadership battle.
During the summer of 2010 the Tory party rebranded the Labour party by trashing its economic record. In the summer of 2015 it is aiming to finally rebrand itself by moving to the centre.
That is another concern on the growing list of problems for the next leader.
Sam Dale is a financial and political journalist