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Ed’s opportunity

22 September 2011

1:08 PM

22 September 2011

1:08 PM

Ed Miliband is the man to rip up the rulebook. He uses the phrase half a dozen times in
an interview with the New Statesman. Ever since the phone hacking saga climaxed in July, Miliband has been
busy posing as an insurgent against the Establishment; the politician who refused to fawn to Rupert Murdoch. His version of events is utterly specious: he was happily quaffing News
International’s champagne at the beginning of the summer. But that is immaterial. Miliband has recognised an opportunity to redefine his faltering leadership.

Despite his stern rhetoric, Miliband says very little about policy to the Statesman beyond promises of a VAT cut and a few other baubles. A separate interview with Progress is equally devoid of concrete policies. Our leader column in
this week’s Spectator (subscribers click here) observes that Miliband has
made a negligible impact on Britain’s political landscape, but is terrifyingly close to power. We say:

‘Ed Miliband is not ready for this…His opposition strategy appears to be standing by and watching the government make mistakes. He does not deserve the opportunities which lie in front
of him, and he may lack the resolve to take them. But if Britain is plunged into a fresh economic crisis, David Cameron will be lucky to survive it.’

The forthcoming Labour conference will provide a backdrop for Miliband’s recalibration. The greatest test comes in the person of Ed Balls. As our leader column notes:

‘Miliband needs to look ready. This requires a credible economic policy, no easy task with Ed Balls in charge…Miliband has the better analysis [of the two]. His talk about the ‘squeezed
middle’   gets far closer to the real problem: that British living standards are already suffering their most sustained downturn in 80 years.’

Miliband may have no answers as how to relieve the squeeze or foster aspiration; but, given the economic situation, he may only need words to win.

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