Miliband at TUC: who looked sadder? Him or them?
Ed Miliband isn't inspirational. But at the TUC today he wasn't helped by a room full of brain dead dinosaurs
Labour Party leader Ed Miliband has been getting the kicking of his life recently, not least for his appalling opportunism over Syria. The most searing criticism on that score has come from people who are no friends of the Tories. (See this and your jaw will drop.)
His speech at the TUC today was not helped by his starting out with a joke that nobody laughed at. Talk about a lead balloon. He contrived, and that is the operative word, to build in his Labour-One-Nationism by referring to the Conservative Prime Minister of 1867, the Fourteenth Earl of Derby who, "first legislated to allow trade unions in this country. His real name: Edward Stanley. Or as he would be called today: Red Ed."
Hilarious! So Labour's inspiration is not from the last century, but the one before that; who was a Tory peer. One hopes that someone else wrote that "joke" for him, just so there's someone to fire.
Having said that, when you're trying to impress people like the brain-dead Unison boss Dave Prentis, you have to feel some human sympathy with the man. The Guardian reported Prentis as saying: "It was disappointing to hear [Miliband] talk about sticking to strict spending limits. That makes no sense." Really? So turning Britain into Greece would be a good idea?
Has Prentis been undergoing deep-sleep therapy over the last five or six years?
And then, along comes Janice Godrich, president of the Public and Commercial Services union. To more applause than the hapless Ed got for his speech, she asked Miliband during the question and answer section: "Your policies seem contradictory and they're confusing people. Can we get a clear answer: are you for or against austerity?"
Miliband fudged it, of course. He'd do his best to help the needy, but massive deficits need to be addressed, and spending limits would be essential. What does Godrich want him to say?
And that's the problem. Miliband has no idea how properly to address the key point that a tax and spend Labour government got us into the mess we've been trying to sort out for the last few years, and repeating past mistakes will hit the poor hardest of all.
He knows that, but he can't say it. Trouble is that his core constituents at the TUC are too dumb to even understand what he cannot say. That is certainly to put it brutally, but it's not wrong is it?
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