More on Tory plans to character assassinate Miliband as “odd Ed”


11:00 am - June 8th 2011

by Sunny Hundal    


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I want to come back to Tim Montgomerie’s article in the Mail on Sunday where he reveals:

When Ed Miliband first became leader, Conservative HQ decided to paint Gordon Brown’s successor as Red Ed — a high-taxing, high-spending prisoner of the trade union movement. Research reveals that voters haven’t rejected this Red Ed label — but larger numbers have now decided that he’s Odd Ed.

The retort that ‘voters are saying this, not us, honest‘ is an old trick when doing character assassinations.

Over the next few weeks and months, an increasing number of Conservative commentators will popup on TV and disparage him as ‘odd Ed’ or ‘just weird’ in the hope that it becomes a meme. You can bet your bottom dollar that bloggers P. Staines or Harry Cole will.

Any comment or throwaway line by anyone vaguely Labour will be leapt on to build that narrative, as was done with Gordon Brown.

When I picked up on this earlier, Tim Montgomerie replied by saying:

In my Mail article I quoted what voters were saying about Ed in Tory focus groups. I went out of my way to say that their judgments might be “unfair to a man who is privately charming” but the reality is that voters are saying harsh things about Miliband.

I would suggest that if Tim travelled outside of the Westminster bubble to cities such as Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham and ask people what they think about David Cameron – I bet “posh twat”, “Tory toff”, “rich *** who doesn’t care about ordinary people” and much worse would come out in the wash.

Would he be happy with such labels being routinely applied to him on television or would be condemn it as ‘class war’? My point is, just because a group of voters aren’t convinced by a politician doesn’t give commentators free reign to character assassinate opponents. I’ll be watching to see how this develops.

Tim Montgomerie also says in response to my point that ‘red Ed’ has failed:

The Red Ed strategy hasn’t failed. Among target voters the Tory leadership has a 48% lead on the economy and that’s because the two Eds are prisoners of the public sector and are unable to embrace the fiscal responsibility that responsible voters demand.

That’s deflection. Trying to paint Ed M as an extremist ideologue is a rather different point to what voters think about him on the economy (where he’s not focused much yet, and Osborne is increasingly failing to deliver).

Instead, let’s look at how voters see themselves in relation to the two leaders. Fortunately, we have some polling on this already.

The above survey by YouGov/Prospect shows that Ed M is seen as slightly more centrist than David Cameron. This is why the ‘red Ed’ label has failed.

I’m not doubting that Ed Miliband’s personal ratings are worse in some aspects. But Cameron has been around for much longer, didn’t have a crushing defeat to rebuild the party from, and didn’t face a Coalition government that sucks up all media interest (though I also think Labour isn’t trying hard enough).

Voters might think Labour is too subservient to unions, but they also think Tories are too subservient to big business and fond of privatising everything. Each has its downsides with different segments of the population. Nevertheless, ‘red Ed’ has failed.

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About the author
Sunny Hundal is editor of LC. Also: on Twitter, at Pickled Politics and Guardian CIF.
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Reader comments


The above survey by YouGov/Prospect shows that Ed M is seen as slightly more centrist than David Cameron. This is why the ‘red Ed’ label has failed.

Dude, they see him as more left wing than the Labour Party, and more left wing than Gordon Brown. Labour is also seen as more left wing than a year ago (while the Tory party, oddly, is seen as very slightly less right wing). If thsi is failure, I’d hate to see success.

Cameron has been around for much longer, didn’t have a crushing defeat to rebuild the party from

Were you just not paying attention in 2005?

Dude, they see him as more left wing than the Labour Party, and more left wing than Gordon Brown.

Sure, but with people placing themselves mostly in the centre, they see the Tories as much more right wing than them anyway. Besides, I’m sure some of the Daily Mail propaganda had some effect amongst its own narrow base

And with the first two on the right leaning duty rota, the thrust of Sunny’s argument has been well and truly confirmed.

@Tim Fenton:

That’s critical thinking, right there. Well done!

This is ridiculous. Odd and Ed don’t rhyme. It’s like they’re not even trying.

I would also suggest that going back to personal smears might be seen as evidence that they don’t feel confident that they are winning the actual, y’know, arguments. Although I’m sure Dan Hodges will be along any moment to claim that they are only able to go down that road because they have won all the other arguments.

6. Workman Fred

“I bet “posh twat”, “Tory toff”, “rich *** who doesn’t care about ordinary people” and much worse would come out in the wash”

Of course they will but Cameron by his actions can change that view, and slowly doing so with the help of his yellow friends, but strange looking/sounding Ed can’t, even some of the, what I call proper lefties I know think he isn’t leader material let alone Primeminister material and wish they had choose David instead.

Labour have made a big mistake and HAVE to dump him, the quicker the better.

‘Odd Ed’? A bit rich coming from Montgomerie. I saw him on Dateline London last week and I though they’d let a tramp in. He needs to stop sleeping in his clothes and maybe brush his hair before going on the telly.

Sure, but with people placing themselves mostly in the centre, they see the Tories as much more right wing than them anyway.

Since the Tories (or the press, whichever) decided to paint him as red Ed, the perception of Labour has become much more left wing. There aren’t figures for Ed M before he became leader, but I’d be surprised if he was seen as being dramatically to the left of Gordon Brown. Now he is. Whatever else that is, it’s a vindication of the ‘red Ed’ strategy.

I’m surprised that it’s worked as well as it has, to be honest. I’d probably have gone down the ‘policy vacuum’ road. But the beauty of having already painted Ed as a wild lefty is that you can now attack on other fronts without losing the first one. Expect ‘opportunistic’ ‘unserious’ and ‘weak’ from the Tories, and ‘weird’ from the press.

9. Planeshift

The problem is character assasination works. Whilst I’d love for a non-media endorsed candidate to win a landslide, we aren’t yet at the time when this is possible. I’ve got the feeling regardless of what Ed actually does, the tories will win in 2015. Their gameplan all along has been to get the unpopular stuff done first so tax cuts can follow in 2014. So labour’s only hope is to be winning massively at this stage of the game. The recent election results don’t offer encouragement that this is the case.

I’d be half tempted to just invite all the newspaper editors for a meeting where they get to decide the next labour leader, not the members.

10. Torquil Macneil

It is a bit mimsy to get all excited about ‘character assassination’. This blog makes precisely those sorts of jibes against Cameron all the time, and remember the ‘Gideon’ debacle when bloggers on here tried to dog whistle that Osborne was Jewish? If Labour could get away with open ‘Posh Cameron’ taunts they would, but they backfire.

Anyway, epithets like ‘Odd’ only stick if they chime with popular perceptions; remember the failed attempt to label Blair as ‘Bambi’?

remember the failed attempt to label Blair as ‘Bambi’?

I also remember the successful attempt by Blair to label Hague as ‘weird, weird, weird.’

12. Torquil Macneil

” I’ve got the feeling regardless of what Ed actually does, the tories will win in 2015″

I disagree. If he actually did anything it would be easier to tell, of course. Just holding policy review panels and discussion groups isn’t going to excite anyone, and it looks like he is hiding. Whhich he is, isn’t he?

Odd Ed, how very convincing coming from a government that includes such bastions of normalcy as

George Osborne, a man who has a nose like a miniature arse, the expression of a man just caught playing with his balls and a face that looks like a compendium of all the monsters from the classic Universal horror films and who makes Forrest Gump look like Einstein.

Michael Gove whose resemblance to Archie Andrews is terrifying.

Ken Clarke, Jabba the Hutt in Hush Puppies

Andrew Lansley, face like a melting waxwork or has been standing too close to the gravitational field of Sontaran piemonster Eric Pickles a man who makes John Prescott look both slender and cultured.

William Hague, may have economised on for the British taxpayer by sharing a room with another man but he still looks like The Mekon and sounds like Wallace (of & Gromit) being strangled. Starting to look like the film poster for Lucio Fulci’s City Of The Living Dead.

Theresa May may stand out as relatively normal but the letter H means much hilarity over the actions of Teresa May, model turned dominatrix.

Chris Grayling, Monty Burns lookalike and nearly as thick as Osborne

Nick Clegg, from Captain Kirk to Darth Vader in less than a year. You couldn’t sell an “I believe Nick Clegg” T-shirt to Nick Clegg.

Plenty more but I can’t be bothered apart from David Cameron, whose variable bald spot appears atop a face like a condom filled with offal and whse unctious used-car salesman act evaporates in an instant to reveal a contemptuous, sneering toff

Yep, no doubt about Ed’s the odd one.

14. Margin4error

While I agree with your sentiment about Ed, Sunny – character assasination works, as does quoting words put into the mouths of “the public” or “commentators” or whoever – so as to avoid the risk of being seen as nasty and vindictive.

More interestingly though – that chart you have posted up is very telling.

The Lib Dems are now no longer seen as a left of centre party (and rightly so – they spent years telling people they were not left wing, but some “lefties” kidded themselves or pretended to others they thought the Lib Dems were lying and so voted for them anyway)

Labour seems to have shifted left in people’s minds – which is a little worrying for the party as it looks to win round more floating voters or “blue labour” or whatever.

But Cameron is now associated as entirely in-line with the tory party as a whole. That is a big shift from previously being seen as a moderate who reigned in his party.

So there are troubling signs for all the parties there.

15. Planeshift

” If he actually did anything it would be easier to tell, of course. Just holding policy review panels and discussion groups isn’t going to excite anyone, and it looks like he is hiding. Whhich he is, isn’t he?”

I think its more a case of Ed realising he needs to be popular in 2015 not in 2011, and the policy reviews are part of a necessary process aimed at renewing the party. If he went all guns blazing now, there is a real risk of looking stupid in 2015 if the economy has recovered. If it hasn’t recovered by then, then obviously the election is labour’s to lose. But I’d say the odds are that it will have recovered in places that politically matter (marginals).

‘Gideon’ debacle when bloggers on here tried to dog whistle that Osborne was Jewish?

Oddly enough, I don’t. Because they didn’t. As you know.

17. Torquil Macneil

But there is a middle way between all guns blazing and hiding away. He will not be popular in 2015 if he hides away in review panels. That is partly what makes him seem odd, his clear discomfort with leading. IDS redux!

18. Torquil Macneil

“Oddly enough, I don’t. Because they didn’t. As you know.”

Well, they said they didn’t, and I seem to remember that some of them seemed innocent enough, but dog whistling is supposed to be deniable, isn’t it? What is irrefutable, is that the ‘Gideon’ thing was meant as character assassination.

‘But there is a middle way between all guns blazing and hiding away.’

Does it involve having a press conference with a Q+A, like he did, um, yesterday, or is it more challenging David Cameron to a naked wrestling match in Parliament Square and spitting in Nick Clegg’s face?

Seriously, what is it in terms of events, rather than positioning, that Tony Blair is supposed to have done that we all need to copy?

I think people look at Cameron and see Blair, although not as good as Blair, they look at Cleggie and see a second rate Blair, they look at at Ed Miliband and as yet are not to sure, the reason is we do not yet know what he stands for, except the NHS of course, but after New labour what can you say…

Oddly enough, I don’t. Because they didn’t. As you know

That was the rather fabulous blogpost where Paul accused the 2005 Tories of anti-semitism for their ‘Are you thinking what we’re thinking’ campaign.

That’s the 2005 Tories whose leader, Michael Howard, and shadow chancellor, Oliver Letwin, were both Jewish, and where the Labour Party released posters showing Howard as Fagin and Howard and Letwin as pigs.

22. Torquil Macneil

Tony Blair had a different sort of challenge and I am not offering him as a model. But the fact is that Ed M has not impressed everyone as he seems to have impressed you. To many he seems to lack any leadership or the ability to challenge an unpopular government during the worst economic crisis in living memory. That is why ‘Odd Ed’ will stick.

Surely people expect Labour to be on the left, and the Tories on the right. It doesn’t necessarily freak them out as some people seem to think. After all, most people still vote for one or other of them. I would suggest that the reason why perception of each party has shifted further out from the centre since May 2010 is that in the election campaign both were competing for the centre ground and emphasising their centrist credentials. The bad news is for the Lib Dems, who for the first time are seen as a marginally right-wing party, and Clegg as more so. They are perceived as being dragged to the right by membership of the Tory-led coalition, rather than dragging the coalition towards the centre. And unlike the other two parties, the Lib Dems’ stance is seen as way out of line with that of their voters – who interestingly are seen to have shifted leftwards since the election, while their party has gone to the right: a perception presumably influenced by the fact that there are a lot of pissed-off ex-LibDems around.

As for character assassination, the decidedly weird Michael Howard did quite well in 2005. Most ordinary people think most politicians are weird.

“I would suggest that if Tim travelled outside of the Westminster bubble to cities such as Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham…”

Sunny, when were you last in Liverpool?

“Fortunately, we have some polling on this already.”

Ah well, back to the polls and the pretty graphics…

Sunny,

I would suggest that if Tim travelled outside of the Westminster bubble to cities such as Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham and ask people what they think about David Cameron – I bet “posh twat”, “Tory toff”, “rich *** who doesn’t care about ordinary people” and much worse would come out in the wash.

Wierdly, I’ve never heard any of those, and I’m in Birmingham. Perhaps because people might be worried by a potential Prime Minister being odd (the same seems to have unfairly fallen Mr Brown) but not by one being well-off or ‘posh’. The Westminster Bubble (and the Socialist Workers party) seem to be the last places on earth where posh twat”, “Tory toff”, “rich ***” etc are considered as viable political opinions.

I’ll grant you “doesn’t care about ordinary people” is a danger for Mr Cameron, but Mr Milliband does not really give that impression either (certainly, if focus groups are describing him as odd, they are not seeing him as ordinary…). And when you see them interacting with people, Mr Cameron strikes me as better at it than Mr Milliband.

The key problem is though that you can be odd, red and politically deranged and still popular – Ken Livingstone might fall in this bracket – but that is because you can accept being odd rather than worry about it, make being red part of your political message and make deranged ideas sound good. All it requires is to take control of your own destiny. Schmidt reminds us (crudely) that the Conservatives are also odd – but the thing is they have other identities apart from this which they project (Eric Pickles for example is happy being the blunt-spoken, fat northerner, because he is seen as someone with an agenda as well). Mr Milliband, by not seeming to put a message across about what his apparent oddity (he looks normal enough to me), his socialism and his ideas stand for, allows others to chose how to portray him.

I doubt Mr Milliband is particualrly odd by the standards of our parliament, but that this message is dangerous to him is symbolic of his failure to take control of the political agenda.

26. Planeshift

TBH I think the next labour prime minister is far more likely to be an ex-celebrity. a swarchenegger type figure, rather than a political geek. Ed’s main problem is that he is a geek, and not in a stephen fry way. He’s never done anything else. And blairites still wanting David should know exactly the same thing would have applied to him.

Blair wasn’t. He talked about football, music and went on richard and judy.

Well, they said they didn’t, and I seem to remember that some of them seemed innocent enough, but dog whistling is supposed to be deniable, isn’t it…

At 11.50, Torquil, you were informing people that they “tried to dog whistle that Osborne was Jewish“. Now it seems they didn’t but, er – might have and erm, well, who knows…

As for character assassination, well – is anyone surprised? They’re partisan hacks. It’s their job to act like penises.

28. Torquil Macneil

Of course ‘Odd’ also refers to ‘unnatural’ which is a problem for Ed after what he did to his brother, and the Tories want to keep that at the front of everyone’s mind.

29. Torquil Macneil

“At 11.50, Torquil, you were informing people that they “tried to dog whistle that Osborne was Jewish“. Now it seems they didn’t but, er – might have and erm, well, who knows…”

Ben, what I said was that dog whistling was SUPPOSED to be deniable, and of course they denied it. I am happy too believe that some people were in good faith but the antisemitic whistle was real nonetheless.

@Torquil

“Tony Blair had a different sort of challenge and I am not offering him as a model.”

Oh good. I’m glad to see someone recognise that.

“But the fact is that Ed M has not impressed everyone as he seems to have impressed you.”

Didn’t say he impressed me, although I did vote for him (it is possible to have an opinion between impressed and despised). I did say that he had held a press conference yesterday, after you accused him of hiding, and asked what more he could do to not hide.

“To many he seems to lack any leadership or the ability to challenge an unpopular government during the worst economic crisis in living memory.”

Ok, either a) you don’t know what else to do but think ‘challenge an unpopular government’ is actual advice or b) you’re concern trolling. Which is it?

I won’t take this further as I’ve no desire to thrwart this eminently worthwhile discussion about the “oddness” of Ed Miliband. (Funny how he’s more “odd” for taking on his brother than the D-Man was for covering up the abuse of prisoners; helpying to stymie the Chagossians’ desire for home and so on. I guess that’s conventional behaviour for politicians.) But, while I’ve no doubt an anti-semite would start slavered at the name “Gideon”, you asserted that it was an intentional subtext. (“Bloggers here tried…“) And you’ve got no reason to believe it’s so.

32. Torquil Macneil

“Ok, either a) you don’t know what else to do but think ‘challenge an unpopular government’ is actual advice or b) you’re concern trolling. Which is it?”

These are far from the only options of course, but in fact I fall into your a), I don’t know what he should do. But I don’t think doing nothing is going to be any use. It is a poor look out for the Labour Party when their supporters take the line ”why should our leader know what to do if you don’t?’ And it is a poorer look out when ‘he held a press conference’ is offered as the only evidence of political effectiveness.

I am not trying to convince you CS, or anyone, if you think Ed is proving an effective leader you won’t change your mind, but surely you can see why some people at least think the opposite? And why some of those are nostalgic for a different Milliband or even a different Ed (and why is HE being kept on his leash, as if we didn’t know?).

@Schmidt

But if Ed’s the only normal one, then he’s the odd one out!

You can’t win.

34. flyingrodent

I am happy too believe that some people were in good faith but the antisemitic whistle was real nonetheless.

Readers are invited to form a mental image of “some people” blowing a real antisemitic dogwhistle in good faith. Granted, it’s difficult to do it with a straight face.

35. Daz Pearce

Interesting chart which cuts the the point of Clegg’s current difficulties for sure…

Mind you I’ve never come across a poltician who isn’t a bit odd – most of those that are fairly normal, like Ken Clarke, get cast as oddballs themselves in situational terms…odd Ed, odd Dave, Odd Nick, George – whoever wins the election the oddball always gets in…

http://outspokenrabbit.blogspot.com/

36. Torquil Macneil

“Funny how he’s more “odd” for taking on his brother than the D-Man was for covering up the abuse of prisoners”

It may seem funny but it is a widely held view that betraying your family is unnatural, perhaps even more so when it is done merely for career reasons.

“But, while I’ve no doubt an anti-semite would start slavered at the name “Gideon”, you asserted that it was an intentional subtext. (“Bloggers here tried…“) And you’ve got no reason to believe it’s so.”

Of course, no reason at all, just as I have no reason to think that those people who refer to the POTUS as ‘Barak Hussein Obama’ are anything more than sticklers for nominative accuracy.

37. Mr S. Pill

Hmm. The impression that most folks I talk to about Ed Mil isn’t that he’s “odd” or even “red”, but that he appears impotent & in no particular hurry to stop Tory plans.

38. Torquil Macneil

“Readers are invited to form a mental image of “some people” blowing a real antisemitic dogwhistle in good faith. Granted, it’s difficult to do it with a straight face.”

Nothing brings a smile to your face quite so reliably as the thought of anti-Jewish bigotry Flying Rodent, we know that about you.

39. Chaise Guevara

@ 36 Torquil

“Of course, no reason at all, just as I have no reason to think that those people who refer to the POTUS as ‘Barak Hussein Obama’ are anything more than sticklers for nominative accuracy.”

Valid point, but what about the people (such as myself) who didn’t even associate “Gideon” with Jewishness until the argument kicked off?

Well, I call Osbourne Gideon to imply he’s Jewish

Just like like call Eric Pickles “Eric” to imply he’s a Viking.

If you’re the only one who hears the dogwhistle, Torquil, then maybe you are the dog.

41. CS Clark

@Torquil

“It is a poor look out for the Labour Party when their supporters take the line ”why should our leader know what to do if you don’t?’ ”

I’m not asking you because I don’t think Ed doesn’t know. I’m asking you to justify your belief that he could be doing more. If you have no ideas then it’s a recursive argument, like suggesting that football team that only has a 1-0 lead increase their lead by playing better. It’s not really useful beyond establishing that you don’t think a 1-0 lead is good enough.

Still, at least we’ve narrowed it down. Obviously you’re not calling for more alternative policies. Because that would be a poor lookout etc.

42. flyingrodent

Nothing brings a smile to your face quite so reliably as the thought of anti-Jewish bigotry Flying Rodent, we know that about you.

(Cough)Bullshit(cough). That said, it’s true that nothing brings a smile to my face quite so reliably as watching a flim-flam artist trying to have his cake and eat it, especially when it’s done in such a flagrant fashion.

As the old conman’s rulebook says – if the Mark catches you out mid-scam, then you should always back up, admit that you were in the wrong, and then launch another, less ambitious hustle. Thus, do we get comedy concepts such as racist dogwhistles being blown in good faith, ba-doom-tish.

43. Shatterface

‘Valid point, but what about the people (such as myself) who didn’t even associate “Gideon” with Jewishness until the argument kicked off?’

I think those who were unaware of the connotations but stopped calling him Gideon once it was pointed out are pretty innocent, but those who persisted are not.

As to Ed vs David: nothing ‘unnatural’ in brothers being rivals but deffinitely something iffy when a party being asked to choose between candidates who share precisely the same background. Might as well say Geaorge W Bush just happened to be related to his father when its pretty obvious the US and the UK have political dynasties.

44. Torquil Macneil

“Thus, do we get comedy concepts such as racist dogwhistles being blown in good faith, ba-doom-tish.”

It may be funny FR, but you are the only person who has made such a claim. Strange fellow you are. This talk about Jews rattles your brain I think.

45. Torquil Macneil

“Valid point, but what about the people (such as myself) who didn’t even associate “Gideon” with Jewishness until the argument kicked off?”

Like Shatterface said, Chaise, and as I was at pains to say too, not everyone was malicious, some people are just quite innocent about this sort of thing. Others, less so (I am not necessarily referring to the batty friend above).

“Well, I call Osbourne Gideon to imply he’s Jewish. Just like like call Eric Pickles “Eric” to imply he’s a Viking.”

Well not JUST like, because Pickles calls himself ‘Eric’. I am sure you can see the difference if you squint at it.

46. Torquil Macneil

“If you have no ideas then it’s a recursive argument, like suggesting that football team that only has a 1-0 lead increase their lead by playing better. It’s not really useful beyond establishing that you don’t think a 1-0 lead is good enough.”

You think that the Labour Party is analogous to a football with a 1-0 lead? Like I said, if you have such a rose tinted view it would be pointless to try to disabuse you. But to many it looks like the Labour Party is adrift and unable to score at all despite the obvious weakness of the opposition. In that situation it is not uncommon to call for a new manager.

47. CS Clark

“If you have such a rose tinted view it would be pointless to try to disabuse you.”

I think 1-0 is a pretty apt analogy given the polls. Some people think we should be out of sight by now even though the end of the match is some time away. Some people are more concerned with making funny chants. Or calling their own players a bunch of tossers.

Still, on a similar note if you are starting from the position that the Labour party is terrible, your advice is worthless. It’s not as if it’s an uncommon form of critcism, but it usually involves people starting off with hoping that Labour will go back to being a proper left-wing party, and ends with frothing at the mouth about Stalinist. Advising that what Ed should do to make himself more visible and to challenge the government is resign is a nice change.

“Well not JUST like, because Pickles calls himself ‘Eric’. I am sure you can see the difference if you squint at it.”

Is the difference one calls himself by the name his parents picked for him and one doesn’t?

48. Torquil Macneil

“Is the difference one calls himself by the name his parents picked for him and one doesn’t?”

That’s right. It is polite to use the names that people use themselves. I am sure your mum taught you that. That’s why we call the President ‘Barak’ and not ‘Hussein’.

49. Torquil Macneil

“I think 1-0 is a pretty apt analogy given the polls. ”

Do you think they would win an election called tomorrow?

Guido has already got a whole lt of pictures of odd ed in action on order-order, well predicted by liberal conspiracy.

Ed was mocked for being useless and a bit odd on 10 o clock Live – a notably left-wing comedy show. This isn’t some sort of right-wing plot.

Torquil Macneil Nothing brings a smile to your face quite so reliably as the thought of anti-Jewish bigotry Flying Rodent, we know that about you

‘We know all about you huh’? Who is this “we” and which group are you trying to associate FR with? that sounds like dog-whistling more than anything else to be honest. Amusing you’re trying to accuse others of it. Please go find some more gullible people to wind up somewhere else.

Yes I saw P Staines’ post. Predicatable to a T.

53. Mr Eugenides

The problem here – and I am attempting to be constructive rather than just trolling – is that the sort of people who choose party leaders are very different from the people who actually vote in elections.

The likes of Sunny (or, for that matter, right wing bloggers) think that the most important test of a potential party leader is ideological. What are his principles? Where does he want to take the party? What are his views on the deficit, on spending cuts, on education? They search the list of candidates for one who is the closest fit with their own worldview (or one they think will be malleable enough to convert once in office) and they campaign for their choice, as Sunny did with Miliband E.

The problem is that voters don’t see or care about ideological nuances. They don’t read the Guardian and they certainly don’t read LC. They don’t follow the Westminster minutiae of how the Tories are going to change their strategy and internal party discussions about plan B and the IMF. (Laughed out loud at Sunny’s line about the Westminster bubble, from perhaps the archetypal Beltway hack.)

No, they see Ed for seven seconds on the ten o’clock news and that Huw Edwards has a lovely voice, hasn’t he, and what else is on, this guy is boring and a bit weird. Click. They did it with IDS, they did it with Hague, they did it with Brown. Choosing Ed Miliband was a historic mistake for Labour on a par with the election of Michael Foot, and I suspect that if Sunny had been a voter in that poll he’d still be defending his choice thirty years later.

54. Paul Newman

Red Ed neither failed or succeeded. He sidled left of David Milliband and ,given the deliciously fine tuned salon cynicism of the ploy ,’Red Ed’ demanded utterance out of sheer bathetic malice.I came up with it all on my own-some, I dare say many people did. It was a joke and you can`t repeat the same gag interminably.Sunny ,It might work better to be dryly amused than to accuse innocent gigglers of counter-revolutionary joke plotting; but you know best …

This is what Hopi wrote about Ed

…Ed has had to assemble the support of union general secretaries, former Brown advisers (No 10 seems to have decamped en masse into the Ed Miliband campaign team) and virtually everyone on the soft left of the party.In other words, an Ed Miliband leadership will owe a lot of favours……..……Ed Miliband as leader of the Labour party will largely owe his election to people who rather agree with Unite and Compass. He’s acceptable to everyone. Equally, he’s confronted no-one.**
As a result, the new leader of the Labour party might well find himself constrained, circumscribed, hemmed in by his supporters and allies.

Quite so

Odd Ed not a conspiracy but a result of the hapless position Ed finds himself in , a rather weedy push-me, pull-you obliged to tread so carefully his walk starts to look …well odd.
Incidentally I hope to see the master Sen blogging again soon. Lets hope so , a quite brilliant writer who is much missed

55. TorquilMacneil

“We know all about you huh’? Who is this “we” and which group are you trying to associate FR with?”

‘We’ just means those of us who know that about FR. Nothing more sinister than that; no conspiracy! I am not trying to associate FR with any group, he is himself alone. I don’t think his morbid fascination with the perceived malignity of Jews is organised or anything, it’s just one of those odd things you come across on the blogosphere.

56. justkindoffunny

Even his reading his words makes him sound smug…is Torquil a smug git?

57. Torquil's Mum

“Even his reading his words makes him sound smug…is Torquil a smug git?”

No!

58. flyingrodent

I am not trying to associate FR with any group, he is himself alone. I don’t think his morbid fascination with the perceived malignity of Jews is organised or anything…

This is the point at which a public figure would start Googling for “Ferocious Fireballs of Litigation Solicitors Ltd.” I think.

Since I’ve no public reputation worth the effort of defending, I’ll just ask whether this outrageous assertion is based on any evidence, or whether Torquil has pulled it out of his arse as usual.

59. Torquil's Mum

“This is the point at which a public figure would start Googling for “Ferocious Fireballs of Litigation Solicitors Ltd.” I think.”

Nah, all well within the purlieus of fair comment.

Well, I live outside the Westminster bubble and I’m not actively involved with politics in any shape size or form. Sorry to tell you this but the collective view of people I talk to or just listen to is that Ed is ‘geeky’, ‘weird’, ‘nerdy’ and ‘weak’. He is seen as a supplicant of the unions (not good, by the way), who wouldn’t recognise a principle if it slapped him round the face (example – he said that he sees no value in marriage and that he was glad he wasn’t married to Justine, and then married her). I mean look at him! Gurning idiot! Cameron, on the other hand, does not receive any of the tasteful epithets you mention in your article. People aren’t quite sure what he believes in, but is seen as a fairly normal human being (he speaks human, unlike EdM!) albeit from a pretty privileged background whose heart is ion the right place. As a measure of comparative humanity – Ed is seen as someone who knifed his own brother and is shockingly disrespectful to his (now) wife. Cameron is seen as someone with a strong and loving family, who dealt with the difficult life and unimaginably harrowing death of a severely disabled son in public yet with love and dignity.

61. Turnedoutnice

His connection to Balls/Brown has reduced his tenure as LP leader by 6 months.

Tories cannot character assasinate Ed Miliband.or Ed Balls.

How do you do that to people who on 7 July 2005 while London was under attack sit in a room to plot the ouster of the most successful Labour leader and sitting Prime Minister?

No they did not do it for principle or ideology but for their and their “guru”‘s ambition. Country and party came after their and Brown’s interest. And this has been proven once again.

The electorate does not trust them and rightly so – and the party should not either. They did their best to stop a Labour government succeed so that Blair does not get the credit. And in the process harmed Labour and country.

No matter how much people try to say this is ancient history – it is not. And Ed Miliband or his allies in the blogosp[here better not ask for unity or respect. Because they did not show any and I am afraid the two Eds would always be seen as the “backstabbers” whether Blair’s or David Miliband.

Pathetic and all the big names on the left’s blogger’s list got it wrong on the electorate about local elections and how the electorate despises Cameron. They don’t – they actually like him as PM while 47% of the electorate think Miliband is not good enough to be Labour Leader let alone PM.

And I don’t want the Tories to win but we have no choice untile we get rid of these traitors who sabotaged a Labour government.

What is more interesting is they really believed it is their Boss’s God given right to be PM and replace Blair? And then Mehdi Hassan and everyone else accuses Cameron of arrogance.

But both Eds are shameless and they won’t leave until we lose another election. Will 70 MPs have the balls and start a leadership challenge? Please Please Please

63. Mr S. Pill

@60

“[Cameron] is seen as a fairly normal human being (he speaks human, unlike EdM!) albeit from a pretty privileged background…”

David Cameron is a former PR man with a fortune estimated at £30 million & can trace his heritage back to royalty FFS. He in no way whatsoever shares the concerns of the millions of people in the electorate, and the way he’s sold himself says more about his PR skills than him as a person. Cameron is ushering in the nastiest, most vindictive government we’ve seen since Thatcher ’87 and useless idiots like yourself really don’t help. You’ve swallowed all the Tory lies like the sanguine imbecile the government takes you for.

64. Charlieman

@64. Mr S. Pill
I think that Cameron is a more complex individual than you describe. At the gut level, he is Flashman which may have helped him in his PR career. But he suffered a family tragedy which (assuming that he is not a sociopath) affected his rational and emotional approach to life.

As a rich man, he has also tried to live life as a normal citizen. Just as a Scandinavian monarch will never experience the world of normal citizens, he has floated in a bubble alongside citizen bubbles and his bubble never bumps into anything.


On the “Odd Ed” question, I confess that I have commented elsewhere about the unusual social behaviour of his brother. I have seen a few video clips where David’s disassociation from people around him is bizarre, somewhat autistic. Perhaps that is David’s way to settle down before facing an audience, but it comes across very strangely to viewers. And perhaps Ed shares some of those characteristics.

Being weird is normal for politicians, and they can never hide it. For some, weirdness is a positive attribute (Ken Clarke, Norman Baker and there must be a Labour odd ball somewhere). Many of us have an instinctive distrust of bland people. But the M brothers could benefit from a bit of body language training.


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Liberal Conspiracy

    More on Tory plans to character assassinate Miliband as "odd Ed" http://bit.ly/jLZWMu

  2. Marcus Cosgrove

    More on Tory plans to character assassinate Miliband as "odd Ed" http://bit.ly/jLZWMu

  3. Rob Charlton

    More on Tory plans to character assassinate Miliband as "odd Ed" http://bit.ly/jLZWMu

  4. Liza Harding

    More on Tory plans to character assassinate Miliband as “odd Ed” http://t.co/ef4ZrNK via @libcon <I wouldn't bank on "red" Ed failing yet 🙂

  5. sunny hundal

    More on Conservative plans to character assassinate Miliband as “odd Ed” http://bit.ly/jLZWMu (a reply to @TimMontgomerie)

  6. Jane Phillips

    More on Tory plans to character assassinate Miliband as “odd Ed” http://t.co/ef4ZrNK via @libcon <I wouldn't bank on "red" Ed failing yet 🙂

  7. For Fox Sake

    More on Conservative plans to character assassinate Miliband as “odd Ed” http://bit.ly/jLZWMu (a reply to @TimMontgomerie)

  8. Zoe Stavri

    So, apparently the right are trying to tackle Ed Miliband by using playground bullying tactics http://bit.ly/mLzT5t

  9. Brit Lefit

    RT @Liza_Harding: More on Tory plans to character assassinate Miliband as “odd Ed” http://t.co/ef4ZrNK via @libcon <I wouldn't bank on "red"

  10. Bob G

    More on Conservative plans to character assassinate Miliband as “odd Ed” http://bit.ly/jLZWMu (a reply to @TimMontgomerie)

  11. Citizen Smith

    More on Tory plans to character assassinate Miliband as "odd Ed" http://bit.ly/jLZWMu





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