It seems that everyone is offering Ed Miliband advice. Jonathan Freedland wrote him an alternative leader’s speech. Matthew D’Ancona urged Miliband to answer his own fundamental question: “What is the point of a Left-of-centre Labour leader with an empty wallet?” And Owen Jones urges the Labour leader to find a vision.
It would be understandable if Ed Miliband was beginning to get more than a tad exasperated with all this advice. His party is united, he is ahead in the polls and his opponents are in disarray. He has already survived longer than many sage heads believed he could and is now the man most likely to be the next prime minister. The electorate may not be convinced by him as a charismatic personality but he should console himself with the fact that it is not necessary to be charismatic to win an election, as Edward Heath and John Major demonstrated. It makes sense for Miliband to evoke the spirit of Clement Attlee, a man who was, by all accounts, anti-charismatic.
So here I go dispensing advice: somehow it’s irresistible. Miliband must now forget the stardust. He must simply surround himself with a team of competent people. As many as possible should have experience of running a department and running it well with as little taint of the Brown era as possible (Byrne, Murphy, Burnham are a good start). This will contrast well with the growing air of incompetence afflicting the Coalition.
And finally, he must head off the Blair comeback. This may seem absurd, but it is real. If Ed Miliband stumbles then Mr Charisma will become increasingly convinced that Britain needs him. And who’s to say who would win in a straight fight between Tony Blair and David Cameron (or indeed Boris Johnson).
More Spectator for less. Stay informed leading up to the EU referendum and in the aftermath. Subscribe and receive 15 issues delivered for just £15, with full web and app access. Join us.