Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Is the Labour leadership too meek?

I appreciate that party politics (e.g. Labour vs Tories) is a fatuous vacuous business, but, nevertheless, I do take some interest and follow it a bit.

It’s all a pathetic game, but, given that context, my impression is that David Cameron is a far better ‘player’ than Ed Miliband.

In PMQ, for example, Cameron seems far better at being able to land punches. Miliband seems rather strained and desperate and incapable of going for the jugular.

Miliband seems intellectual enough to grasp the crucial points and to construct a good argument, but he seems to lack the force-of-personality required to pack that into a powerful munition to fire at his opponent; it seems like Miliband himself regards Cameron as someone to be treated with some respect (due to Cameron’s class and background), who should out-of-that-respect be spared humiliation, rather than someone who should be treated with contempt and mercilessly drubbed at every opportunity.

Now, people may say that that’s not possible for Miliband because he and his own party are themselves mired in hypocrisy. But my point is not to do with the merits of Miliband but his tone: his tone towards Cameron simply shows zero contempt, whereas that of Cameron towards Miliband often does display contempt.

Given that this game is all about image, not substance, Cameron clearly has the upper-hand: if the public see you, when you hold the floor, showing contempt for your opponent, they will sense that that contempt is justified and begin to regard that opponent similarly.

Labour seem rather like the LibDems in this respect: so enamoured even to be in the company of the big boys that they’re too timid to ‘own’ the place (PMQ, Parliament, etc).

(Indeed, Clegg himself has revealed his own acute awareness of his status in British politics – referring to his place at some dinner-meeting of the Coalition with News Corp as “at the kids’ end of the table.”)

Party politics is not going to save us but, given that that is our starting point, wouldn’t Labour do better to man-up

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