Is Ed Miliband onto a winner? He has been attacked by the media from both the left and the right for failing to lead the charge brigade against a disaster prone Cameron. Even some of his mates in Labour have been critical of his leadership. 'He is my best mate but the truth is ...' so they say. Miliband meanwhile has remained cool, even optimistic about winning the next election. So what's going on? Failing to face reality or have others failed to follow his quiet revolution?
Ed Miliband probably realises that he does not have the thundering character of Churchill, the powerful presence of Thatcher or the charisma of Blair. But that is what many are judging him on. Critique on him concentrates on his personality rather than his intellect, strategy and ideas. He does not jump at us from the television. We don't seem to want to grab him mumbling, 'Oh our saviour'.
But while his ability or inability to throw knockout punches and failure to dominate every news programme obsesses the media, Miliband on the other hand seems to be changing the focus of British politics from personality to issues.
Yes issues, It's what politics is meant to be about, isn't it? The media refers to 'issues' in passing but constantly promotes personality cults. Physical appearances become more important than issues. In the last election, Brown's smiles were not as appealing as Cameron. That was one of the crucial factors on which the British media told us Britain's economic future needed to be decided.
British politics has been obsessed with personality. It started with the television age but went overboard since Thatcher came on the scene and Heath went out. Labour's Foot and Kinnock were crushed by her dominant character. Blair looked the part of a strong leader and recently so did Cameron; 'born to lead', we were told. For four decades at least, we have got used to the politics of personality.
Personality helps to gloss over weaknesses of policies and issues. A strong personality reassures even when policies are bonkers. It has been about 'being in the role'. 'Doesn't quite look the part' I've heard many say about Miliband and some write.
Miliband seems to be on a game changer. As the Conservatives continue to falter on their policies, he is holding back from 'punch em to the floor' politics. Miliband's team is pointing out the flaws of Government policies as they hit more and more people. His team is laying the alternatives gradually. People are beginning to look beyond the personalities.
The economy, the NHS, crime, student fee, taxation, welfare, charity giving, granny tax, pasty tax are only some of the areas that the incumbent Tory Government has shown to be in 'need of coaching'. It is reclaiming its old 'nasty party' credentials.
The Conservative Government is particularly losing ground on the economy. The traditional 'safe hands' Tories seem to be out of their depth in dealing with the deepening economic crises. Blaming the world, Greeks and the Euro does not convince people anymore. Ironically it is the world which is determining our economy, but it needs creative minds to steer us through a new reality.
The economy is as flat as a dead bat. It's not even flapping. People are beginning to doubt the Tory mantra of 'no pain no gain'. It seems the pain is for the poor, the gain is for the rich.
While Miliband remains quiet, the traditional Tory press is ripping apart Government decisions. Their readers are bleeding. And Miliband has been clever in not pushing the right wing press to draw the wagons around the Tories. He has got them to do his work without crawling on their yachts.
The issue is suddenly becoming more important than the image. Perhaps the television age is finally growing out of the personality cult to issues in politics. Or perhaps it is the combined result of facebook, twitter and the web which fragment the image and promote discussion. One image no longer dominates the screen as everyone has his or her own to promote on the billboard. Issues are becoming more important than personalities.
Labour under Miliband has played steady. People increasingly think there is more to the economy than cuts, cuts cuts, which seem to be cut incomes for the poor, cut taxes for the rich.
As more people come to that view, Ed Miliband has to be ready with the right words at the right time to agree with the public that their only hope is a State inspired growth.
Maybe Miliband is ahead of his critics as he concentrates on substance over form and waits for the public to take the economy, their welfare and homes more seriously than the media's obsession with smiles and punch lines. He is doing it without playing knock out politics.
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