VAL 2015 | Ed Miliband kan bli Storbritanniens nästa premiärminister. Detta trots att han knappast har imponerat under sin tid som partiledare för Labour.
Ett av de roligare skämten är Miliband och Ed Balls, trolig finansminister vid en valseger, som politikens Wallace & Gromit.
Trots detta ligger Labour och Conservative Party nästa lika i opinionsundersökningarna. Och, vilket är minst lika viktigt, har han inte gjort några större misstag under pågående valkampanj.
Dan Hodges, som tidigare jobbat både för både partiet och inom fackföreningsrörelsen, tecknar bilden av Miliband och vad som händer om det blir han som får träda innanför dörren till 10 Downing Street efter valet den 7 maj.
One thing happens immediately. In that instant, he divests himself of his biggest negative. The perception that Ed Miliband simply does not look like a prime minister dies. The bacon sandwiches, the otherworldliness, the lonely sojourns on Hampstead Heath — they no longer matter. Within an hour, the analysts who spent the past year mocking him will start to talk about his resilience under pressure, his single-mindedness, the bold new direction in which Britain will go. This is how punditry works; all victories (and defeats) are retrospectively declared inevitable. He has the part, so by definition he looks the part.
So is he ready to play it? The Conservative party has built an entire election strategy on the assumption that the British people will answer that question with a resounding no. But Miliband would enter Downing Street with more experience then any newly elected prime minister of the past 35 years. Tony Blair had no hands-on knowledge of life inside government at any level. David Cameron had worked as an adviser but held no ministerial post. Ed Miliband has done both, as Environment Secretary and as a senior adviser at the Treasury. He understands how Whitehall works.
Speak to anyone who is in regular contact with Labour’s leader, and they all agree he is only too ready to embrace the top job. ‘He’s absolutely convinced he’s been pre-ordained for some big historical mission,’ one senior shadow cabinet member told me. ‘Don’t ask me what the hell it is. But he genuinely believes that.’ Another — rather less charitably — said, ‘Just because you think a lot it doesn’t necessarily make you a great thinker. Ed’s problem is that he regards himself as a great thinker. And he isn’t.’
Great thinker or not, allies confirm Prime Minister Miliband would call time on the ‘chillaxing’ culture that has come to define David Cameron’s management of Downing Street. One friend says, ‘He gets up early, and he’s into the media planning. Then it’s into meetings, and they’re scheduled back to back. The office will build in a bit of downtime, but then he won’t take it.’ Admirable as this is, it can create a problem. ‘You need space to sit back and breathe. Over the past five years Ed hasn’t had that. And if he gets into Downing Street I only see things getting worse.’
And here resides the paradox. As one aide explains, ‘The thing you have to understand about Ed Miliband is that his strengths are also his weaknesses.’ Speak to anyone who has worked at any level in Labour’s operation and they will praise their leader’s intellectual inquisitiveness, his empathy and his inclusiveness. But there is one other thing they all agree on: his congenital indecisiveness.
His critics, with equal justification, point to the fact that Miliband’s lack of strategic thinking and numerous tactical blunders are what leave him constantly backed into corners in the first place. ‘Yes, I suppose he would be good at dealing with the 3 a.m. call,’ says one former shadow minister, ‘so long as he remembers to plug in the phone, can find the phone and doesn’t drop the phone when he tries to pick it up.’
Which brings us back to that Prime Minister Miliband paradox. He thinks, but he also over-thinks. He listens, but he cannot decide. He fights hard, but finds himself fighting on too many fronts simultaneously.
But one thing cannot be denied: Labour has, as a party, held together. Traditionally, it disembowels itself after losing office. Under Miliband, this has not happened. According to one shadow cabinet member, this may be Miliband’s greatest accomplishment.
Tidskriftsomslag: The Spectator den 11 april 2015.