Wednesday 29 September 2010

Ed or Dead?

It's too soon to say whether Ed Miliband's election as Labour leader is good for Labour or not.

In the short term it is good for the Tories because Labour have elected someone who was the second choice of most MPs and activists and someone who is clearly in the pockets of the trade unions. He is also inexperienced and lacks charisma. And lastly, he gives the impression of not liking people like me - middle class, slightly successful, workers (I'm not a swing voter but many people like me are). As a member of the establishment intelligensia he looks down on us: we are only fit for whatever cash he can extract from us. I talked about him with a Labour supporting friend, who thought he was sincere: but was that because she agreed with what he was saying? He strikes me as deeply insincere.

BUT... deeply insincere is another way of saying ruthless. He is clearly ruthless. And that ruthlessness may cause him to dump the unions, he may learn to look as though he likes me (and people like me), he will get experience and he may absorb character. And therefore become a successful leader. His brother has done him a big favour by moving to the back benches - it is possible he could become a really useful informal consigliere unless there is now a major family rift. So

The key to his success, however, has nothing to do with him: it is whether the economy recovers during 2013 and 2014. If it does, then the coalition will get a lot of credit and Labour's opposition to getting public finances under control will be seen as silly. If it doesn't, then Labour will have a chance to rebound by saying that the coalition damaged the recovery by cutting public expenditure growth too strongly before the private sector had started to recover.

But at least his appointment will give the coalition some breathing space as things get difficult.

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