FLEX October 2010: Ed Miliband

My half of a debate on Ed Miliband. Bit outdated…


The Red Corner…


The Red Corner is about to shoot itself in the foot.


The Red Corner admits that it really has no specific problems with David Cameron or the coalition. Aside from the cuts that will undoubtedly bankrupt this country’s financial and intellectual future, the coalition appears to be running the country rather smoothly: the working class are yet to be utterly savaged, we haven’t gone to war over a rocky outcrop in the south Atlantic, and nobody even appears to have nailed Edwina Curry.


Cameron and Clegg seem to be pioneering a new approach to government; level-headed, theoretically open to negotiation, paving the way for an era of bipartisan consensus.


Unfortunately, when you realise that George Osborne is still the Chancellor, Andy Coulson is still at large and the same old ideologically driven Tories are back, it becomes clear that this happy coalition is not sustainable.


Enter Ed Miliband.


The new Labour leader embodies everything that is good about the current administration’s approach to governing without the rabid dogma and impending doom that comes with it.


For a politician of modest experience, Miliband has shown maturity, intellect and no small amount of political savvy to propel himself to the head of the party. From relative obscurity, he has won over voters with a clear message and strong conviction coupled with a willingness to engage in debate and talk things through in an adult manner.


Cameron et al. share this trait to only a small extent. They claim to be open to discussion, but in the end they rarely budge from their initial proposals. The Tory attack dogs that have been set on Miliband in the last couple of weeks have proved this, decrying Ed as ‘flip-flopping’ on issues, i.e. changing his mind.


Now the Red Corner may not think like everybody else, but say you were driving to London and took what transpired to be a wrong turn. Would you stay with it for the sheer sake of your principles, screaming ‘GODAMMIT MARJORIE I STICK BY MY DECISIONS!!”, as you hurtled inexorably towards Scotland? The Red Corner thinks not. If Miliband takes a stance on an issue and then finds out, in view of better evidence, that it is the wrong stance, does it make him wrong to change his views?


It’s that kind of principle sticking, so beloved by the Tories, that got us into Iraq.


The Tories are also entrenched in the past. This should come as no surprise, given that it’s all they ever talk about, but they seem to have come up with some really poor material this time. Ed, they say solemnly, is “A Union Man.”


This assertion has led to a barrage of questions, questions like “A what man?”, “Are you serious?” and “What year do you think this is?”


On this evidence the Conservatives are pretty much showing themselves to be Sam Tyler from Life on Mars: ostensibly from the present but actually living about thirty years behind the rest of us.


True, Miliband may have got the backing of some trade unions, but this doesn’t make him their puppet. Far from it, if his disapproval of the BBC strike is anything to go by. More importantly, though, unions just aren’t a key player in politics anymore (thank you Mrs. Thatcher), and Miliband’s record shows that he is far more centrist than the traditional brand of union politician the Tories are comparing him to. If this is the best the right wing can throw at Ed Miliband, then Labour are laughing.


Ed Miliband is a rare breed of politician, able to listen as well as speak, to take in information rather than just spout tired rhetoric. A former aide to Gordon Brown during the most fractious period of the Blair-Brown tussle, Miliband was known by the Blair camp as “The Emissary from the Planet Fuck”. Aside from being utterly hilarious, the nickname was bestowed in honour of Ed being the only person from the Brown camp they could have any dealings with.


This ability to facilitate and discuss in a civil manner is one of Miliband’s strengths. His genuine passion for environmental issues and anti-war credentials are encouraging. This is the sort of politician this country needs.


His approach offers us a genuine, not just temporary, chance to move beyond the destructively partisan, vitriolic, barely-concealed hatred and blind left-right dogma fuelled politics we have so come to despise and which the Tories are already wheeling out to greet the new Labour leader.


This chance must not be missed.



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