Coffee House

PMQs: Ed Miliband goes mainstream

21 November 2012

21 November 2012

A muted PMQs today. But Cameron opened a fresh offensive which may prove to be a blunder. The leaders began by discussing the Gaza crisis in bland and soporific tones. The absence of heat and noise from the debate indicates how little it affects Britain. And how little Britain affects the debate. Cameron and Miliband were in virtual agreement throughout. And they were keen to urge everyone, other than themselves, to work harder to create peace. Cameron suggested that Obama should make the Middle-East a key objective of his second-term, just as one might make weeding the raspberries a key objective of the coming weekend.

Miliband noted that ‘confidence in the two-state solution is dwindling.’ But if you canvass politicians outside the Middle East you find there are about 200 states demanding ‘the two-state solution’. It’s just the two states involved that don’t want it.

On domestic matters, Miliband chose the health service. And he revealed the calamitous fact that the number of cataract operations has fallen. Disturbing news for the poor blinking victims, of course, but unlikely to trigger a no-confidence motion. The Labour leader was coasting today. He seemed to have left his gag-writers in the pub to enjoy an early lunch while he jousted half-heartedly with the prime minister. He was ‘out of touch’, said Miliband. He had ‘no clue about detail’. And he ‘didn’t listen.’

Not true. The prime minister listens very hard. He and his crack team of snipers have been stalking Ed Miliband obsessively from studio to studio and from podium to podium. And they’ve spotted a frailty which Cameron revealed today for the first time. Miliband, they reckon, is a glitter-ball statesman who reflects teeny rays of political energy back at any source that shines on him.

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Cameron warmed up for this attack by mocking John Prescott’s failed attempt to get himself elected as become Humberside’s top cop. Prezza had helped out by writing the best gag.

‘This is a referendum on everything the government has done,’ Prescott told his fellow northerners as he canvassed their votes. They promptly dumped him in the nearest wheelie bin. The Tories greeted Prezza’s fall with raptures. ‘More, more!’ they pleaded.

‘There’s plenty more!’ crowed Cameron. The Labour leader, he said, had made history this week: ‘He told the Labour conference he’s Disraeli. He told the press that he’s Margaret Thatcher. He told parliament he’s more Eurosceptic than Bill Cash. He told the CBI he’s more Europhile than Tony Blair. He’s impersonated more politicians than Rory Bremner. But this time the joke’s on him.’

Peals of laughter greeted this new caricature of the Labour leader. But what a turnaround. The Mili-bashers on the Tory side have always portrayed their target as a subhuman among parliamentarians. He’s a wonk. He’s a geek. He’s a Rubik’s cube-twiddling misfit. He’s an unelectable Goofy cartoon with bunged up nasal passages and a weird way of pronouncing his words so that they sound like aqualung bubbles breaking the surface.

Now he’s the opposite. He’s gone mainstream. He’s crossed over, according to Cameron. He’s all things to all focus groups. He’s become a political asset, a gorgeous blank square in the great game of electoral Scrabble. This, of course, is the very accusation leveled at Tony Blair and Bill Clinton in the days when they rode to victory in every election they contested.

Dave himself, when ‘Cameron the Chameleon’ was deemed a threat, merited the same sought-after smear. To accuse a politician of favouring whatever his audience favours is to admit that he’s got voter-appeal. And though Miliband did very little today, he took away the greatest honour the Tories have ever paid him.

If Dave has converted to the cause of Ed Miliband, he’d be wise to keep it to himself.


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Show comments
  • toco10

    Fraser this piece is a disgrace so just get a grip.Does the name ‘Lloyd Evans’ perhaps give us a clue as to bias?

  • http://twitter.com/rlpkamath Rahul Kamath

    Given all the noise in the comments, methinks you have rather hit on something Lloyd. Your observation is quite acute.

    • Colonel Mustard

      How can you have “noise” in comments? The “noise” is incredulity from a majority of conservative commentators that articles of this quality and direction keep appearing in a supposedly conservative magazine.

      But of course conservative commentary is always “noise”, or “frothing”, or “ranting” whereas communist soundbites are much more subtle and insidious, dressing themselves up as “reasonable”, “moderate” or “centre left”.

  • Terence Hale

    Hi,
    PMQs: Ed Miliband goes mainstream. Mr Miliband use of the
    situation in the middle east (Gaza) for party political profit is a “Zeugen des
    Schurken”. The game of reciprocality of Goliath and the Palestine’s is the
    concern of the whole cultured world.

    • swatantra

      Reciprocity indeed, this time its the Palestinian Davids against trhe Israeli War Machine’s Goliath. How George Orwell must be laughing in his grave.
      EdM put 3 excellent questionss on the conflict and got 3 straightforward answers. EdM should have kept pressing for Palestinian seat recognition at the UN. Something drastic really needs to happen to shift these Israelis out of their coomfort zone and move the Peace Process on. If the Govt can recognise the Syrian Rebels then surely it can give a seat to the Palestinians at the UN.
      Ed needs to learn to laugh at himself so when Prezza was mentioned all the Labour side should have guffawed as well; after all it is coming up to pantomime season.
      Lets hope The Humberside is the last nail in the coffin for Prezza.

  • http://twitter.com/ianwalkeruk Ian Walker

    He’s only got ‘voter appeal’ if you use the criteria 1) is Labour and 2) is elected by a virtually gerrymandered voting system.

  • Augustus

    Talking of raspberries, there were more than 3,000 greenhouses which Americans bought from Israeli settlers who were living, working, and hiring Gazans. Those greenhouses were left in perfect order, cost the Americans a lot of money, and would have supplied employment for thousands of Gazans. they also would have supplied food for Gazans as well as for export. But looters destroyed the lot of them after the evacuation. But the point about this is that those thousands of greenhouses weren’t bought to profit the Americans, they were a gift by American Jews for the people of Gaza. And guess what, PA/Hamas used the roofs as cover for their illegal smuggling tunnels.

  • William Blakes Ghost
  • William Blakes Ghost

    I think the only mistake is the sub-intellectual leap and dismal spinning from Evans that a description of what Miliband has been attempting to do is in fact recognition that he has succeeded in becoming anything more than the leading freak in a party of freaks (the Labour benches really do remind me of a get together of the Addams Family) when in reality Cameron is suggesting that Miliband is so dissatisfied with his own unimpressive and uninspiring image he is attempting to present himself (wholly inappropriately and dishonestly) as the reincarnation of a multitude of far more impressive politicians.

    Cameron is mocking the absurdity of Miliband “the wonk. the geek. the Rubik’s cube-twiddling misfit. the
    unelectable Goofy cartoon with bunged up nasal passages and a weird way
    of pronouncing his words so that they sound like aqualung bubbles
    breaking the surface”
    trying to associate himself with momentous politicians like DIsraeli, Thatcher and Blair when he’s nothing more than a political pygmy.

    Effectively it makes MIliband look like the Walter Mitty of Westminster!

    The fact that Evans has misinterpreted it says more about Evans qualities and ability than it does Cameron’s.

    • Skibbereen Eagle

      Agree entirely, especially the last sentence. Evans should go back to writing Theatre reviews only.

  • HooksLaw

    Cataract operations may have fallen but it seems that previously they were too high. No doubt a quick whipping out of a cataract was a good way for Labour to massage its health statistics.

    The last Labour govt pre ordered operations (with private providers no less!!!) and once those orders ran out it was inevitable that operations would fall.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/6683975.stm

  • HellforLeather

    “…though Miliband did very little today, he took away the greatest honour the Tories have ever paid him.”

    What! That he’s a hypocritical, ineffectual sham?

    I note you posted this stuff after a long Spectator public lunch. No wonder it’s trash.

    • HellforLeather

      And, for what it’s worth, I am in no way a Cameron fan, I

  • HooksLaw

    What a wonderful uplifting photo of dear Ed as opposed to the pointedly bad ones of Cameron you chose to publish. I guess this is down to the ‘perception’ you seek to peddle.
    Frankly however I regard your sneering over what we can and cannot do in the real world as contemptible.
    Cameron’s attack on Milibandwagon was apposite and you are a fool.

  • The_Missing_Think

    “He told the Labour conference he’s Disraeli. He told the press that he’s
    Margaret Thatcher. He told parliament he’s more Eurosceptic than Bill
    Cash”

    Well it looks like the senior Tory ‘s R4 intervention was successful… Red Ed has safely trotted back into Labour ‘s barn… hmmm… HMG’official Opposition… eh?

  • Hexhamgeezer

    ‘But if you canvass politicians outside the Middle East you find there are about 200 states demanding ‘the two-state solution’. It’s just the two states involved that don’t want it.’

    Fake equivalence, or, to put it another way, wrong..

  • Noa

    “Dave himself, when ‘Cameron the Chameleon’ was deemed a threat, merited the same sought-after smear.”

    “No question, now, what had happened to the faces of the pigs. The
    creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from
    pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.”

  • EndOfTrolls

    Cameron skewers the ineffectual f+ckwit Milliband and this is a mistake? This magazine has crossed the line from political comment to political comic. Telemachus and his lot have won. The Spectator is officially an organ of the Labour party. I give up. Goodbye.

    • EJ

      The rest of us worked this out months ago. This site is good for the message boards – the articles are largely dull, left-leaning, smug, insider piffle.

      What’s so interesting is that just like Cameron with conservative voters, The Spectator pays zero attention to the values and opinions of it’s readers. Those values don’t fit with the la-la-land lefty platitudes talked around West London dinner tables.

      • the viceroy’s gin

        Yes, it’s amazing the contrast between the leftism of the Speccie teenagers, and the commenters.

        It begs the question, who’s paying for the Spectator? Who keeps it in ale? It can’t be the commenters, so who is it?

    • peterbuss

      Absolutely right. Gobsmacking stuff from Coffee House.

    • George_Arseborne

      Please do not go. This is a reaction when reality walks through. Check out Lord Arschroft article on Ed and Labour in the conservativeshome site. Please do not comit suicide .We love ya.

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