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March 27, 2011

Edward Miliband’s delusions of grandeur.

It emerged this week that Ed Miliband would like to now be known as Edward. He seems under the impression that a less casual name will make him seem more prime-ministerial and statesmanlike. I suggested at the time that he will be judged on the basis of what he says and does, not on how he brands himself. That is already proving to be the case. His speech at yesterday’s TUC rally in Hyde Park reached such proposterous levels of self-aggrandisement, and displayed such incredible delusions of grandeur, that he appeared more like an emotional student politician than a potential prime minister.

He wasn’t helped by the PR disaster that saw his support of the march juxtaposed on Sky News with images of protesters fighting with the police:

But the biggest mistake wasn’t that he made the speech; it was the content of the speech. I won’t go through it all, but it started thus:

“The Tories said I shouldn’t come to speak to you today, but friends, I am proud to stand with you…”

Really? Did the Tories say he shouldn’t go? I can’t believe that. And the ‘friends’ things is painfully patronising.

“…because we know there is an alternative. We come here today, from all walks of life, from all classes, from all backgrounds, from all generations.”

This is interesting. I couldn’t possibly claim to know there is an alternative (let alone support it) until I’m told what that alternative is. Given Labour have done no such thing, I’d be fascinated to know what it is that all yesterday’s protesters were clamoring for. And the multiplicity of classes, backgrounds and generations from where the protesters had come isn’t, in itself, a reason to listen to them. I imagine if you went into your average prison, there’d be people from all walks of life, classes, backgrounds and generations, but they’re not paragons of virtue as a result.

“And let me say to you, as I look across this historic park, at the sea of faces, it is a profoundly moving moment.”

This bit was just funny, for two reasons. Firstly, he showed absolutely no sign of being in any sense moved by the moment. Secondly, he read the line from his pre-prepared speech, suggesting he’d made an earlier prediction, when writing it, that he would be moved at that point.

“We come in the tradition of those who have marched before us.”

Oh no. Don’t tell me he’s going to compare the campaign to…

“The suffragettes, who fought for votes for women and won. The civil rights movement in America, who fought for equality and won. The anti-apartheid movement, who fought the horror of that system and won. Our cause may be different, but we come together today to realise our voice. And we stand on their shoulders. We stand on the shoulders of those who have marched and have struggled in the past.”

*stunned silence* So apparently the ‘No to cuts’ campaign which Ed supports (despite Labour having planned substantial cuts themselves, and despite there being no alternative if we wish to rid our country of its colossal deficit) is on a par with the American civil rights movement, and the South African anti-apartheid movement?! The inference (unintended or otherwise) that Ed Edward Miliband is the next Emmeline Pankhurst, Martin Luther King or Nelson Mandela is one of the funniest things I’ve heard in quite a while.

On a more serious note, though, such comments border on the offensive. Try telling the descendants of Emmeline Pankhurst or the children of the assassinated Martin Luther King that Ed Miliband is currently pursuing a struggle similar to those of their respective ancestors. Try telling Nelson Mandela that what he achieved in South Africa is basically akin to stopping the British government from returning the country’s spending levels to those of 2007.

“Our struggle, friends, is to fight to preserve, protect and defend the things we value. Now we know what this government will say…this government will say this is a march of the minority. They are so wrong. David Cameron, you wanted to create a big society. This is the big society.”

At which point the crowd cheered and applauded, which I find strange given I’ve been told by lefties that the Big Society is a rubbish idea, to be mocked and scoffed at? Not so, apparently. It seems that the Big Society is a perfectly acceptable concept, as long as it represents your own side’s views on how things should be done. Furthermore, the suggestion that the anti-cuts campaign represents the majority of people is a complete fallacy. A poll on Friday (in the Guardian, no less) showed that 57% of people support the cuts. Indeed, 29% of people say the cuts aren’t severe enough.

The rest of the speech continued in a similarly banal manner. Miliband’s politicial narcissism, coupled with the appalling damage carried out across London by a number of the protesters, means that the campaign’s message fell on deaf ears. As it deserved.

[Hat-tip to ConservativeHome for the above images.]

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