Miliband Redux?

I was always a supporter of  Ed Miliband, as I told him when Kajsa and I met him at the LRB Christmas party a few years ago.

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He was of course monstered by the vile Right-wing press, as are all Labour leaders, which contributed (to say the least) to his party’s defeat in the 2015 General Election. It was that election which established David Cameron as the worst prime minister of modern times, until Theresa May came along; and led to the elevation as Leader of the Labour Party of Jeremy Corbyn, who has become the most monstered Opposition leader of modern times.

When Corbyn was chosen – my vote was for him, in the absence of Ed – I worried that this ‘image’ of him would be a drawback to his achieving electoral success as Labour leader, despite his policies, virtually all of which I shared. My hope then was that he would be invaluable in radicalising the party in a way I felt was necessary, until such time as someone more acceptable – wearing a dark suit and tie, perhaps, which is always reassuring – could take over. (See https://bernardjporter.com/2016/07/12/keep-corbyn-for-now/.) I always felt that Ed, with his brilliant Marxist father – also notoriously and posthumously traduced in the pages of the Daily Mail as ‘unpatriotic’, which he certainly hadn’t been – was as instinctively radical as Corbyn underneath.

So I was delighted to read this piece in the current Guardian, by the omnipresent young socialist journalist Owen Jones, recommending that he be brought back into the Labour front-line team: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/may/30/labour-reboot-ed-miliband-brexit-corbyn-referendum. Perhaps my selfie-friend Ed could go on from there to put the bacon butty episode behind him – remember that dreadful image of him trying to bite into one? – and take up the reins as Leader again. That’s what I dream of.

Perhaps Hilary Benn could be seduced back at the same time? He’s enormously competent and personable; and I can’t credit that some of his father’s radicalism hasn’t rubbed off on him. Just think what a ‘team’ that would make!

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3 Responses to Miliband Redux?

  1. Agreed; and the Harold Wilson precedent is apt. (When is he going to be properly rehabilitated?) The expulsion of Alastair Campbell shocked me. Is it Corbyn’s close advisers who are responsible for this narrow sectionalism?

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    • Tony says:

      Wilson’s reputation grows monthly in light of Brexit, especially his conduct of the 1974 EEC referendum in contrast to Cameron and co in 2016, and with a party just as divided as the Tories. Also, of course, keeping UK out of the Vietnam war, resisting considerable pressure from LBJ, in contrast to Blair and Cameron in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, etc. Ben Pimlott’s fine biography went someway to rehabilitating him, but even his erstwhile critics (Joe Haynes, Donoughue etc) are showering him now with, perhaps feint, praise

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  2. Tony says:

    I also had high hopes of Ed Milliband and Jeremy, but to be fair the disappointment have been due to their errors. Ed seemed to carry over some baggage from his Brownite years, a tendency to be rather timid on policy and still ‘triangulating.’ Corbyn has been too antagonistic to the right wing elements in the PLP encouraged admittedly by their own vindictiveness. This support of the members is dissipating under the impact of Brexit, and he needs to encourage cooperation not only from Milliband but other talented ex-Brownites such Yvette Cooper. He could learn from Harold Wilson, that you may come from the left but still have to lead from the centre in a broad based party, include all talent while trying to manage outcomes in a left wing direction.

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