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It’s not about you, Ed

7 January 2012

10:23 AM

7 January 2012

10:23 AM

One thing you learn in life is that most people have no idea how they are perceived by
others. This is particularly true in Britain, where we don’t generally feel it is polite to tell people what we think of them. Politicians and public figures therefore find themselves in the
unusual position of having opinions about them shoved right in their faces. Maurice Glasman’s description of Ed Miliband as having ‘no strategy, no narrative and little energy’ must have been
deeply hurtful to the man who elevated a previously little-known academic to the House of Lords.

High-profile politicians must cauterise a certain part of their mind (or is it their soul?) in order to cope with the white noise of personal insult they have to endure. Most people would end up a
little odd as a result of this process and it is clear that many politicians start off odd from the outset.

Which brings us back to Ed Miliband, a man who has been reminded of his geeky oddness on a minute-by-minute basis since he became Labour leader. The Labour leader’s fightback interview in the Guardian today is, in many ways, impressive. He is right to call Cameron
on his commitment to attacking crony capitalism and right to say the Labour Party must re-think its traditional economic strategy of ‘sharing the proceeds of growth’.

At times, Miliband shows an unusual degree of self-knowledge, recognising that it was an open-door approach to policy advice led him to embrace ‘interesting guys’ such as Maurice

But one answer to Patrick Wintour stands out. ‘You discover things about yourself in this job, which is that I am someone of real steel and grit’. This is just toe-curling and something
no one should ever say about oneself. People in positions of responsibility should never be allowed to tell others what they have discovered about themselves. I remember a senior news executive
prone to favouritism and vindictiveness who used to tell young reporters ‘the one thing you will find about me is that I am tough but fair’.

The point is that the political narrative has begun to fix on doubts about Ed Miliband’s leadership. This is not the moment for the Labour leader to share his view of his own capacities with
us. If there were no doubts he would not need to reassure us.

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