Ed Miliband’s enemies in the Labour Party are indulging in luxury: a pointless, expensive thing that only people with four years to spend can afford. Up to a point, they resemble John Major’s enemies in the Tory Party – a chorus of Viv Nicholsons who spent, spent, spent down to the penury of 165 surviving MPs in 1997. Those Tories had a reason, if an absurd one. They were hung up on the EU as a conspiracy by the heirs of Hitler to abolish England. The other motive for hating Major was devotion (in the High Church sense) to Margaret Thatcher, Queen and Martyr.
Ed’s enemies have no discernible principle, however misguided. They dream only of David: limp, charming US conformist, token foreign secretary, but the rightful heir to the shining void of Blairism. Childish beyond words, their view is supplemented by the trivialist press. Sketchwriters, too idle to stay for any parliamentary business except the leaders’ set piece, expatiate on voice timbre, assurance quotient, facial appearance and high-profile oneupmanship. The government meanwhile is rolling over in contradictions, policy reversals and ‘clarifications’. The opposition won’t need a ‘stronger’ leader to defeat them at the next election. They might try calm or reticence or even unity – or that bit in the Brer Rabbit books about lying low and saying nothing.