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Labour Party leadership KEVIN MEAGHER


The 1.3 per cent difference in the share of the vote between the Miliband brothers exposed a Labour Party divided between the establishment gravitas of former Foreign Secretary, David, and the insurgent roman- ticism of former Energy and Climate Change Secretary, Ed. But who exactly is Ed Miliband and what does victory mean? First, his election signals a shift leftwards


Now the harsh reality I


Most commentators believe the election of Ed Miliband as Labour leader will mean the party shifts leftwards. But, while he owes his victory to the unions, his focus will have to be convincing the public of his leadership qualities –and that he is his own man


n defeating his brother, David, by the slenderest of margins last Saturday, Ed Miliband’s election as Labour’s twentieth leader saw the party’s heart rule its head.


for Labour. How far though is moot. Ed Miliband is adept at inferring he is more left- wing than he is. His critics paint him as a semi-unreconstructed leftist who has won by telling party members and unions exactly what they want to hear. In reality Miliband won because he is a listener and intuitively understood the centre of gravity of the modern Labour Party far better than any of the other candidates. Ed Miliband’s winning message had three basic strands: his opposition to the Iraq war (he was not in parliament at the time of the 2003 invasion), together with sentiments about creating a fairer society and emphasising the scale of Labour’s task in “reconnecting” with the public, citing the fact that Labour has lost five million voters since its 1997 hey- day. His appeal to the Guardian-reading, pub-


lic-sector, soft-Left, urbanites that comprise so much of Labour’s grassroots, was perfectly pitched. These are principled, decent people who can be swayed by pragmatic arguments, as many initially were by Tony Blair, but ulti- mately they retain their original views. They saw many of their cherished beliefs battered and bruised during Labour’s years in office


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and were grateful to have a candidate in this leadership contest who actually chimed with how they view the world. They are a sizeable and influential section of the Labour coalition and sometimes easy to caricature for sharing a common outlook against the three Ms: Money, Middle England and Murdoch. They don’t think their party should be beholden to the interests of business, middle-class social conservatism or the tabloidisation of political debate under Rupert Murdoch. Theirs is a moderate Socialism. They want their politics to mean something and see in Ed Miliband a cham- pion. As Ed Miliband himself put it: “There’s no


victory without values. I think it’s incredibly important to get that across to people.” But


what are those values? Hardly a speech or interview is complete without reference to what he believes. This usually distils down to supporting greater equality, social justice, internationalism and fairness at work. Curiously, his campaign website has little fur- ther detail. His opponent, Andy Burnham, managed to publish a 30-page manifesto out- lining his thinking. There is nothing as expansive from Ed. His approach throughout the campaign was to employ his undoubted emotional intel- ligence to connect with his audience without actually offering up many hard commitments. He is a master soother and reassurer. Some of his supporters will probably end up dis- appointed, sooner than they think, at how pragmatic he will turn out to be. He already has his fair share of enemies within Labour, angry at his supposed disloyalty in standing against his heir-apparent sibling. As author of Labour’s last election manifesto, Ed was recently blasted by Lord Mandelson for pro- ducing a “crowd-pleasing Guardianista” effort that “completely passed by that vast swathe of the population who weren’t natural Labour voters”.


Others complain he is the comfort-zone candidate who, in the words of Tony Blair’s media chief, Alastair Campbell, will make Labour “feel OK about losing”. Like many in Labour’s establishment, Campbell and Mandelson backed David for the top job. He, (in contrast to Ed), was seen as the statesman; the credible alternative Prime Minister who would not trash Labour’s record in power. In reality, there was little to choose between


the Milibands, Ed Balls or Andy Burnham. They were all cut from the same cloth with similar backgrounds as ministers and special advisers, and there was little to differentiate


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