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Maybe you needed to be there, but I can’t quite see why Cameron got such rave TV reviews for his brothers crack

Posted on 15 December 2011 | 9:12am

Perhaps you needed to be there. But based on the clips I saw on the news, I cannot quite see why the broadcasters seemed to decide  as one that Ed Miliband had a disastrous PMQs yesterday. The papers do not seem to share the view that this was a seismic event.

On one bulletin, I saw him make a perfectly good case that the central plank of the government’s economic strategy – that the private sector would fill the gaps left in the jobs market by cuts in the public sector – had failed. This on the day of figures showing a 17 year high in unemployment. David Cameron came back with his usual line about the ‘mess’ (sic) they inherited, without in any way dealing with the substance of the point – the private sector has indeed not filled the gap.

So the real ‘news’ aka comment that led to the orgy of Miliband-bashing, particularly across the BBC, came from the exchanges regarding Nick Clegg’s resumed position on the government front bench. I think we can safely assume that if Miliband had not mentioned  the very public divisions between Cameron and Clegg, the same instant commenters would have been out saying he had ‘missed an open goal.’

So he asks them ‘what went wrong?’ and Cameron comes back and says ‘we’re not brothers’, and first Tory MPs, and then the Nick Robinson squad, go into an orgy of delight.

Now like I say above, sometimes being there can give a very different sense to the one that comes over on TV. But if I had been a member of the public watching, I think I would have seen the unemployment exchanges as being more significant, and I’m not sure I would have seen the ‘not brothers’ line as the blinding piece of wit those in the chamber seem to have judged it to be.

Newsnight, after an excellent discussion on phone-hacking – I hope Lord Leveson was watching – took as fact rather than comment that it had been a disaster for Ed, and interspersed its report with clips from a US comedy about a hapless young American who apparently looks a bit like him. To repeat – on the day unemployment hit a 17 year high.

So we are led to the conclusion that Ed is going through one of those phases where there is added currency in stories that do him down. All you can do in those circumstances is get through them, show the public you’re getting through them, and focus on the key issues and decisions in front of you.

On Leveson, we have seen a very good example of the way the modern media operates in the way parts of the press have reported the doubt over whether the News of the World deleted Milly Dowler’s text messages. Those who argue against regulation, and therefore want to do in Nick Davies of The Guardian, now seek to make the case that this was the central fact without which none of the current fuss would have happened. It is a manifestation of the state of denial that has characterised their approach from start to finish.

It was therefore good, when the laywer representing hacking victims said Milly Dowler’s voicemails were ‘not the only reason why this inquiry is being heard’ to hear Lord Leveson say ‘If anybody had any doubt about that, I anticipate that the last month has dispelled that doubt.’

  • James

    There was once a time at which I would have found agreeing with you, Alastair. That time was when you were part of government. The luxury of not being in office has given you the opportunity to say things of sense and importance – not least your Leveson appearance.
    This blog entry is the same. I found myself listening to PMQs yesterday and just thought “Lame!” when Dave ‘Dave’ Cameron made his ‘joke’. It was crass and opportunistic, and again is part of what annoys the public when it comes to parliament. The great work of parliament is increasingly seen in the select committees, not in the chamber, but the puerile bickering of the HoC is what we see.
    That the Beeb (whom I work for, in a far-flung office and unconnected with news or politics) seemed to go wholesale, as you say, for an anti-Ed Milliband agenda yesterday was annoying and not a little strange. I know political ‘news’ is mostly comment, but PMQs elicit a more sheeplike response from those commentators than is usual. It’s quite demoralising, whatever one’s political hue.

  • I do wonder if Cameron wasn’t backed by that motley gallery of toady eighth-wits, guffawing as if he’s just done his best Jim Davidson as “Chalky” impression, whether his clumsy attempts at “funnies” would be deemed so cutting? 

  • Chris lancashire

    That’s it Mr Campbell – blame the media, not Milliband.
    Look, it wasn’t just the brothers quip (which was rather good) it’s the fact that Milliband is a geek – looks a geek, sounds like a geek, spouts geekness. And you yourself put your finger on it – on a day when unemployment hit a new high he couldn’t lay a finger on Cameron.

    • MicheleB

      It’s one letter l in Miliband, unless you’ve failed at some wordplay.

  • Echoespaul

    I liken Ed Miliband to Fernando Torres in a way. If he isn’t scoring goals, people will eventually start talking about his form and his future. And rightly or wrongly, people don’t believe Ed is scoring the goals, and some might argue the net will never be more open.

  • The Cameron ‘Brothers’ comment worked because it was succinct and appeared to be unplanned. Milliband’s scripted response just seemed laboured in it’s delivery.  The message won’t be heard unless the people want to hear the speaker. Cameron is doing to Milliband what Blair used to do to Hague/IDS, swat away any attacks with ease.

  • Ehtch

    Has Dave’s european raves got anything to do with the by-election that is taking place in West London today? Call me a cynic if you want, and you’ll be telling the truth. It’s Labour held at the moment. Should be a good barometer what joe public thinks of his euro tactics. And thanks beeb for letting us all know it was happening today only yesterday on your “news”.

  • Olli Issakainen

    Plan A is not working.
    For every extra £4 spending is cut, it only cuts borrowing an extra 75p.
    And due to the slow growth that results from the spending cuts HMRC will receive billions less.
    You require growth to cut the deficit. Governments can only cut their own expenditure, not deficits.
    Labour´s plan was based on growth. Mr Osborne will now have to borrow more than under the Alistair Darling plan even though his austerity programme is £40bn bigger than that of Labour!
    (People comparing the austerity measures should realise that the Tory-led government started cutting a year earlier than Labour would have done which distorts the picture.)
    It is now possible that there will not be any reduction in deficit during this parliament.
    Public sector net borrowing was £137bn in 2010-11, 9.3% of GDP. OBR estimates that it will be £127bn in 2011-12, 8.4% of GDP.
    The coalition exists to cut the deficit. But Britain will, in all probability, be in recession during Q4/2011 and Q1/2012.
    Let´s assume that in Q4 GDP falls 0.7% and in Q1 1.3%. This would mean that borrowing for 2011-12 would still be 9.3% of GDP!
    OBR appears so far to have failed to get the spare capacity in the UK economy right. This has led to bad forecasts about the future growth.
    The deficit in 2010 was 9.7%. Mr Osborne wants it to be 1.6% by 2015.
    But growth is needed to generate extra tax revenue and reduction in welfare spending.
    Let´s be generous and assume that Britain´s trend growth will be 1.4% over the next few years.
    Tax revenues would then increase only by £50bn, putting a £65bn hole in the deficit reduction objective.
    Higher spending on benefits could cost £11bn, and higher interest expense could cost an additional £13bn.
    Instead of reducing the deficit by £134bn, tightening of only £45bn would be achieved.
    This would leave the deficit at over 8% of GDP.
    In reality the outcome will be much worse. Osborne and Cameron will be finished.
    They will fail to rescue British economy despite of huge cuts and big tax rises. All pain will be in vain.
    George Osborne has got his sums terribly wrong. He says that it is wrong to borrow more.
    Why is he then overspending by £500bn during this parliament? Why is he only shifting the debt from government to households?
    Why is he creating a huge debt bomb for Britain by 2015?

    Ps. According to IMF paper Expansionary Austerity: New International Evidence 1 percent of GDP fiscal consolidation reduces real private consumption over the next two years by 0.75%, while real GDP declines by 0.62%. Nobel-winning economist Paul Krugman states that this proves beyond doubt that programmes like plan A cannot work.

  • Jacarandachick

    Newsnight’s empty piece on ‘Labour Leader Falls Apart’ came across like Wedtminster Bubble navel gazing, quite shocking editorial choice given everything else going on in the world; I’d prefer it if journalists prefaced their comment with a hearty “in my opinion”.

  • AndyP

    I think Nick ‘Blue Robbo’ Robinson should preface all his reports with “in my opinion”. Especially the ones that are just him telling us how brilliant David Cameron was at PMQs. 

    Why aren’t Labour complaining loudly about Nick Robinson & the BBC’s blue tinted political coverage? 

  • Ehtch

    With the tory’s, they need every seat that they can tactically get, and I am sad to say, there has not been much speculation what could happen today in ” Feltham and Heston”, where in Feltham many young people are incarsirated after the summer, ironically,
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-16187493
    ? http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics ?

  • Simon

    This from the man who said he thinks Dennis Skinner is funny.

  • MicheleB

    I took Cameron’s crack to be along the lines of ‘We aren’t joined at the hip’ and thought his giggling audience was in overdrie. 

    It wasn’t till Newsnight that I understood it having any relevance to Labour’s leadership contest.

    For all  his cracks about EM’s questions being scripted it’s quite obvious that Cam’s audience to this one had been primed.  Silly me; as well as knowing about Qs beforehand they’ll also know what the As will be, perhaps there’s even a competition for suggestions and a party bag for the winner?

    Constance Briscoe on QT last week used the same method of backstabbing.  As an aside I’m not aware there has ever been a judge on the panel before and I’m surprised a person with such bias about society and politics is even deemed judge material. 

    • Richard

      Re: Judge Briscoe. Please would you elaborate on her alledged bias and backstabbing. She said that there were too many people on benefits. Was she wrong? Do you think there are too few, or not enough?
      Why should Judges not express opinions? They have wide experience of the problems of society and she in particular was not born with a silver spoon in her mouth. Her experience is likely to be far wider than yours or mine,
      You are heading down the AC route of wishing to muzzle &/or denegrate anyone who disagrees with you.
      (How difficult for you for a female black judge not to fall into your required stereotype!)

  • Dave Simons

    You will have noticed from previous posts that I don’t have the greatest admiration for most Tory politicians, though I met a good Tory Councillor once (but why was he in that party?). Nevertheless I would not sink to referring to Tory politicians – even the ones I hate most –  in such disgraceful language as you use to describe Ed Miliband. The word ‘geek’ does mean something and it has a long provenance. The Concise Oxford says ‘A dull and socially inept person’, but it had a previous meaning, common in fairgrounds and circuses, before what people like you refer to as ‘political correctness’ stamped it out. Might I suggest that your attitude towards some of your fellow mortals is a bit sick?

    • Libdem

      It could have been worse Dave, he could have used the duck analogy.

      • Chris lancashire

        No, Libdem, that would have been cruel.

  • Ehtch

    English rugby Saracens doing their thing to help with the young lads in Feltham – telling them we understand, unlike the tory scum, sorry, tory some,
    http://feltham.hounslowchronicle.co.uk/2011/12/rugby-champions-help-young-off.html

  • Fairy Tales have stood the test of time because they tell us
    something about the human condition. In “The Emperor’s New Clothes”, by Hans
    Christian Anderson, a king needs to show his power and believes his new suit is
    the best that there is. In reality he is naked. All the courtiers praise the
    king and tell him what a fine suit he has. The population knows that the king
    is naked. The king is a simple but genuine man who really does believe he is
    wearing a fine suit. The only person who can tell the king he is naked is his brother.
    However, out of love for his younger brother, the elder brother banishes
    himself. Even when the king says sensible things, the population would rather
    vote for a lordly rival who supports privilege. Who can believe a king who
    thinks he is wearing the best clothes when everyone can see he is wearing
    nothing.

     

    The king tells his lordly rival that a friend is telling
    fibs. In response, the lordly rival tells the king that his own brother will
    not let him in on the secret that he, the king, is standing there naked.

     

    Everyone starts laughing.

    “Look at the King! Look at the King! Look at the King,
    the King, the King!

    The King is in the all together

    But all together the all together

    He’s all together as naked as the day that he was born.

    The King is in the all together

    But all together the all together

    It’s all together the very least the King has ever
    worn.”

     

    Some of the courtiers closest to the king could still not
    see this. However, those who had known this all along could not hide their body
    language as they sat beside the king on the green benches. They were wondering
    how long they could keep up this pretence. What should they do? Support their
    friend and let the kingdom collapse, or urge the king’s brother to speak truth
    to power.

    • Gillian C.

      When I began to read your post I thought perhaps you were using the ‘The Emperor’s New Clothes’ story in relation to Cameron. 

      As I got towards the end of your post,  I of course realised it was Ed M you had in mind.  I’m afraid you have got it spot-on.

      Poor Ed M is way out of his depth as an effective Labour Leader.  I would be inclined to pity him if it wasn’t for the fact that he stabbed his own brother in the back.

      Labour will be unelectable for a generation if they continue as they are.  They barely make a credible opposition party at the moment.  A good leader is obviously essential for any party.

      A good credible leader, plus a return to their previous anti-EU
      stance would make Labour a dead cert. to win the next general election imo.

      Cameron has bought himself and the Tory party some valuable time and a bounce in their poll-ratings pro tem.
      I personally don’t think he will stick to his guns on this EU issue and that sooner or later he will sell this country out to the fascist/communist dictatorship that is the EU.

  • Ehtch

    Yes Alastair, the main thing is to care for your fellow man you meet each day, but when you feel your fellows are being shat on, well, you have got to do something about it, with or without the law. It is natural human nature. In the 1980’s I think the people of the regions of Britain didn’t go far enough, because they were too polite. And hence the dysfunctional police service/Thatchers army that we have today, not getting the right recruits because they don’t like what an organisation that they are now, and basically can only recruit, to tell you honestly, white hanging nazzie minded white folk. That is how bad it is. A friend of mine who was in the RAF Police, who joined the Avo-Somerset Police after end of service said it was the worst thing he ever did. Cop forces could not care about people, just their own possible overtime, self-caused as in stop and search, and ocassionaly shoot…. He was a top top RAF Police Corporal, Berlin Gatow and everything, armed even when he came home, and to hear him saying that broke my heart for my country.

  • Julie

    There have been a couple of PMQs since May 2010 when Cameron has delivered his scripted joke adequately, (he’s no natural at being funny and neither is Ed for that matter), and on each occasion Newsnight has gone into overdrive about how Ed’s leadership is about to crash. I agree with you – was it even funny? Not sure I even get it – is the point that Ed and David M don’t agree on stuff either? OMG, if it is, excuse me while I try to stop my sides from splitting. Nothing funny about highest levels of unemployment in 17 years.

  • Ehtch

    Are you referring to King Canute in his armchair in front of the cliffs of Dover, or have am I missing what you say here? Great words though.

  • Ehtch

    Might as well respond, but I like it,
    Mister Taylor, how history fails read.
    But what read the truth or some twit?
    or someone hungered looking for bread.
     
    History should be taken with a pinch of salt,
    as in bread, and landlords in your beer swilled.
    Bump up his gasping thirst profits all told,
    and extra free peanuts mix on bar not tilled
     
    Sausages too, pigs in entrails fed to us,
    morning followed what did I say and hey?
    Bugger it, forget it, steam valve released,
    fried eggs and black pudding and say ney, never said that.
     
    what were we talking about again? oh yes 15/12/2011 – who’ll have it?

  • Someone in the Labour leadership needs to “get it” soon. The Tories have the country in a mess. So ask yourself why Labour and Ed in particular are plummeting in the polls when they should be miles ahead. Labour supporters are not helping by blaming the media. If Labour cannot get the public on their side, they will not deserve to be re-elected. It is all down to credibility. If David M has to leave the country so that he does not show his brother up to be bereft of policies, the public can see that Ed is a second rate leader. The fact that Ed thought he was better than David shows how out of touch Ed is with reality. Even Alastair is unable to blog the truth. I expect we will have to wait for a diary in a few years. I hope it’s written when Alastair is supporting PM D Milliband. Unfortunately I fear Labour will remain unelectable whilst everyone pretends that Ed is such a good leader.

    • MicheleB

      I think EM’s lifelong problem is being a younger brother to another male; had he had an older sister maybe the problem would be less than it is.

      He selected MPs for his front bench that had been in Parliament for even less time than himself, 2 or 3 of them for less than a year.

      He doesn’t seem to have enough respect for what has gone before, while he faces someone that relies on that very thing and little else and who also has the common ooops sorry popular (spit) Press onside.

  • Mabozza Ritchie

    Not that this is a joke contest but John Pienaar on BBC5 Live said EM had the best joke with a gag about Clegg being woken up at 4am by his “partner” apologising for an unfortunate misjudgement. I was astonished when both Nick Robinson and Newsnight both made such a stir about DC’s quip (and not mentioning EM’s retort). They have the cheek to comment that these jokes are scripted when they are looking for “proofs” for their pre-decided stands.

  • Richard

    Blair had a natural sense of humour, which matched with his speed of thought, led to his ruling of the dispatch box with consummate ease, against all comers.
    Red Ed has no sense of humour and cannot think on his feet, so has to rely on what is written in front of him. ( His speech writers have let him down since he became leader). His statesmanship quotient is zero.
    He was foisted on the parliamentary party by the unions. That Labour are not 20 points ahead in the polls is lamentable, and the more AC, Benn and the others make excuses for him the less likely will be any effective opposition or  a  return to power.
    Your rabid anti BBC ranting was successful when you were in Downing St: with your power diminished your delusions are transparent!

    Murdoch and News Intl paid the Dowlers £3 million, without reservation as far as I am aware. That the Daily Mail or anybody else wishes to split hairs ( as the NOW journalist tried on Newsnight last night) they will be overrun by public opinion.

    Nothing to say today re Feltham by election, Al? A rout of the coalition parties is presumably a  foregone conclusion under Red Ed’s glorious leadership?

  • Ehtch

    And by the way Libby, if Charles fancies going out for a pint on one of his quiet nights in Carmarthenshire, just tell him to give me a shout, sons accomponied or not. But I am sure I find some filly around abouts for Harry, say no more…

  • Ceilidh

    While I don’t think it was Miliband’s strongest week (and let’s be honest, does anyone in the general public pin as much importance o PMQs as the media seems to?) but it was ridiculous for Nick “Tory cheerleader” Robinson and the extremely stretched media to declare it politically genius victory for Cameron, who failed to answer any questions as usual on the week our highest unemployment figures were released, just because he made an observation that the leader of the opposition has a brother. It was a bad joke on its own and it certainly doesn’t show him to be a strong leader. Frankly, it was a tactic more suited to the school playground, much like most of Cameron’s attacks. The media has a preconceived narrative it chooses to follow and at this moment in time it’s decidedly pro-Tory. It’s also one that frequently portrays Clegg and the Lib Dems as opposition rather than in the government. After a few weeks of strong PMQs from Miliband, including the EU statement where he left Cameron in shreds (all of which was largely ignored by the media, who instead decided to fixate on Clegg’s absence. Not wanting to provide a distraction. Yeah, right), the media were looking for something to continue their narrative. 

    Frankly, I think its time Labour really mobilised outside of the mainstream media. We have a strong internet presence which allows us to get our message out there and I think we need to really use it. Of course we’ll still need newspapers and such but there’s no point in begging for attention from a bunch of people who are determined to have you lose by any means. 

  • MicheleB

    Are you really Richard the pedant who accused or joshed a couple of weeks ago about a second Richard?  Surely the pedant would not have used a ‘d’ in ‘alleged’ and MkII should be re-IDed by now?

    I don’t remember her saying there were too many people on benefits.  There are definitely too many people in need of benefits (there are too many people without a job, some of whom have been in that state for so long that they have become ill and many of them will have paid national insurance for years …. it’s still  known as insurance isn’t it?).

    I do remember her saying benefits claimants receive too much while being unable to state how much benefit is.  Perhaps she collects her opinions from the daily Wail or Excess?

    I would agree with her that too much is paid o.b.o. claimants to cheating landlords, many of whom prefer a benefits recipient as a tenant rather than an employed person.  I doubt you’ll deign to agree with me that the actual cheating recipients (in the form of exploitative landlords) are not such soft targets as their hapless tenants?

    I am not surprised she was refused silk and cannot understand why she has been made a judge.  Aren’t they supposed to be informed and impartial?  She showed herself as something completely else. 

    As to how wide her/our experience is, speak for yourself.  As to her being black it has nothing to do with what I posted about.

    I also happen not to agree with your auto-pilot claims about AC.  Many of us make posts that I am sure he does not agree with, they get through nontheless.  It is one thing to regret that anyone has said or thinks something, it’s something else to stop them and unless you have been censored (oh if only …. LoL …. it’s a joke, go on, split your lips) you are being prejudicial to so accuse.

  • Mike

    Is it just me who finds Cameron’s responses to questions and attempts at humour insulting to the people he and his obnoxious party are putting out of work? 

    What kind of society have we become when people think this sleazy wassock is worthy of leading our country?

  • So you are saying, none of the Labour team know how to run the country. I agree. This is why the public are not supporting them in the polls. As a Labour supporter myself I find this lack of leadership depressing. Labour supporters have to get real. Telling Ed he is doing a good job is not helping anyone. Ed is trying but he will never make it. Most of his MPs did not vote for him for a reason. I wish it was not true but I would not want Ed as PM. Would you?

  • Dave Simons

    ‘The duck analogy’ has nothing to do with me and is as contemptible as ‘the geek analogy’. If you want to play ‘yah-boo’ play it with people on your own playground level. Also please use a different title – you discredit your namesake party.

  • Gilliebc

    ‘He doesn’t seem to have enough respect for what has gone before’……. That’s true Michele.  I think most of us recall his acceptance speech to the Labour party on becoming leader, where he seemed to go out of his way to distance himself from TB and New Labour!  That certainly annoyed me and I suspect many others also.

    But, I like to think I’m a fair-minded person, so I thought “let’s give this somewhat gormless bloke a chance to prove himself”  Well I have and he hasn’t imho.

    The Labour party should take a leaf out of the Tories book when it comes to dealing with leaders who can’t or don’t measure up.  Dump him asap.

    From visiting several other blogs it’s quite clear that Tory supporters are hoping the LP will keep EM and that obviously says it all.

  • Dave Simons

    So judges ‘have wide experience of the problems of society’? Do you remember the trial of Jefferey Archer, when that judge talked about ‘this fragrant woman’ – Mary Archer –  and why would her husband associate with ‘a common prostitute’?

  • Gilliebc

    I like and agree with your first paragraph Richard.

  • Libdem

    Remembering which team Alastair supports perhaps Michael Ricketts would have been a better choice than Torres; the real point being that Torres actually was good at one time in his career……

  • Mark Wright

    The coverage re Ed M is a reflection of the mood music.

    Unfortunately for Ed the music playing behind him is a little dischordant and a touch sombre at present. Maybe he needs a stronger backing band or maybe someone who can do harmonies…

  • Anonymous

    I saw Newsnight last night (against my will – someone in the house insists on watching it).  I couldn’t understand the point of the piece about Ed Miliband at all.  It seemed as if the BBC had air time to kill and a bit of spare bias to put across. Lazy journalism of the worst kind.

    The performance by Cameron at PMQs was lame, and the people braying on his side of the House merely made me embarrassed that they were in office (they were probably already pissed for Christmas, do you think?). We sat watching them in baffled silence, ashamed.

    I do find it sinister that the media and the BBC in particular are spinning this stuff when the government is so much at so fault on so many issues.  As for Nick Robinson, I have complained to the BBC about him before, but much good did it do me.  The BBC cannot possibly claim to be a ‘neutral’ organisation whilst it continues to employ him.  

    I think we have a real problem in this country – broadcasters are conspiring with some of the worst people we’ve seen in public life for thirty years.

  • Ehtch

    Song for Feltham and Heston, today,

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZnP07s_O14Q

  • Ian Brandil

    New Labour never had a very developed sense of humor

  • ronnie

    One day last week I woke with the radio on to hear someone giving a view on the Cameron European failure in a voice so articulate and with such confidence and commanding presence that I had to wake up a bit more to realise who it was. It was, of course, D Miliband. He is the real deal – he just has that presence that money can’t buy.
    Sadly I think it’s beyond doubt that Labour will fail under Ed. The structure is now established at PMQs and it doesn’t matter what he says – he is the pleading, whining outsider and DC is the boss, the man in power. Like so many other things in life, it’s now about the structure, not the content. He has failed to establish himself as someone who can argue successfully, and it won’t matter in future how good his arguments or policies are. The die is cast.
    We need someone really good, really quick, really commanding and, unfortunately it has to be said, with no perceived weaknesses which are like blood in the water to the sharks we call politicians and journalists. It’s not the only reason for his failure, but in this day and age no party can be successful with a leader who sounds like he’s talking through a kazoo. I really hope the party has the nerve to wake up and cut its losses while there is still time.

  • Ehtch

    Snow tomorrow or tonight, it is told,
    lows coming to see us from a certain direction.
    Blow cold all and said and bold,
    Precipitation white without fright tyres powdation.

    Spinning wheels not going very far,
    wipers stuck ice and snow de-icer run out.
    Foot down up hill, clutch burning tar,
    A to B car designed travelling but not miles rout.

    Winter’s here in the south.

  • Janiete

    Chris is rather typical of many conservatives, being willing to resort to nastiness when it suits. Cameron and Osborne frequently rely on it to cover up the weakness of their political arguments and to inflict personal damage on opponents.

    However people don’t like nasty bullies. I think Ed should forget the wise cracks and political knockabout. He should focus on detailed questions (where Cameron is weak), watch for the often repeated inacuracies in his replies (eg 500,000 private sector jobs since election) and when Cameron resorts to type, gently point out the country deserves better from a prime minister.

  • reaguns

    I’ve got to disagree on point, agree on another.

    1. Unemployment. Well its high, there is no getting away from that one. But regarding the private sector / public sector thing, the quote is “one job created in the private sector for 13 lost in public sector”. Yes but isn’t that over the last month? Since the coalition began, 350,000 jobs lost in public sector, 550,000 created in private sector.

    2. I thought the brothers joke was beautifully crafted – but poorly delivered! In fairness to call-me-dave, he was trying to get it in but there was a lot of noise when he tried to unleash the punchline so he had to stall a bit before unleashing it. It could have been brilliant but came across very wooden and scripted. Ed’s one about the horrible mistake etc was just as good I thought.

  • reaguns

    Question Alastair. I’ve always wanted to campaign to help the poorer and weaker in society, partly because I’ve floated around that strata myself. I also want to help people who do hard physical jobs, rather than students. Growing up I thought I’d be a natural labour supporter.
    Then I learned a bit about economics and politics. I could only ever support free market capitalism, and rail against socialism and communism. Can the labour Party ever accomodate someone like me, who believes in power to the people, but in terms of democracy and freedom as well as financially. I could never be a Tory. Just too much upper class, out for themselves, sleaziness – couldn’t show my face in public.

    Will the labour party ever embrace evidence in economics. Will it ever use the system that helped the most poor people (America’s.)

    I’m a fan of the welfare state, of Clement Atlee, of the German system of Welfare. But can we ever expect Labour to do the bits that go along with this, ie the support for enterprise, strong currency, low debt, or do we have to keep allowing the tories to create the growth and jobs then spread it out?

  • reaguns

    “People don’t like nasty bullies.” I think people would rather have the awkward honesty of an Ed Milliband or a John Major, than the self assured confidence, but obvious deceitfulness and thuggery of Ed Balls. If I was a Tory supporter I’d want Ed Balls as leader, though that might end soon, so it might be better to keep him as chancellor where he can do damage for longer term.

    I think Ed is ok. I think David would be better. Look out for Rachel Reeves too I reckon, another one of sincerity and substance.

  • reaguns

    Why? Because he has moved to the centre left alongside balls and brown.

  • reaguns

    I think labour needs to aim at German style socialism combined with capitalism. Go for low debt, always run budget and trade surpluses, by making sure you have a strong currency, and support manufacturing.

    Labour have had two chancellers who ran successful austere German style budgets, Roy Jenkins and Denis Healey.

    And they’ve had one pm who, despite his many flaws, realised that belief in communism and keynesianism was equivalent to the american right believing in creationism.

    It is indeed probably too late for Ed to go with that, he has reverted to tax-and-spend borrow-and-stimulate keynesianism. And now Osborne has joined him there (in reality if not in rhetoric.)

    Tony Blair could have beaten this coalition easily, and I think David Milliband could too.

  • reaguns

    Sorry I meant to say that with the honesty of Ed, the market based policies of Tony Blair, and the anti-EU (ie pro-british-working-class) of Tony Benn, I feel a labour leader could win the next election, or certainly the one after.

    Despite all the talk, we know that really Cameron is the most left-wing Tory leader since the 1970s – therefore there will be no economic recovery under him, so labour can outflank and defeat him, in this term or next, if they follow those steps.

    I do support Ed’s “predator-not-producer’ idea, that is morally correct, but the way to achieve it is through the correct laws to encourage capitalism to do it – which is what Ed said when he was allowed to explain it.

  • reaguns

    Heh heh, don’t quite agree but good analogy all the same.
    I think Ed is more of Rio Ferdinand or a Gary Pallister. People always highlight his mistakes, but he’s harder to beat than he looks. Take him out of the team and Silvestre / Steve Bruce (Ed Balls) won’t look so good without him…

  • reaguns

    Come on mate… I agree the BBC went nuts over not very much yesterday (camerons joke was good but poorly delivered), but are you telling me the BBC is not, in general, very biased towards the left wing? Toward big government (naturally as its state-funded)? And most of all, pro EU?
    Did you see panorama this week? Did you see “When the banks went bust” with robert peston and about a dozen left-wing economists?

    Calling the BBC biased towards the tories is like calling fox news and the sun biased towards labour and Barack Obama. 

  • Ehtch

    Excellent result for Labour – increased share of the vote, over 50% – but blimey, a terrible terrible turnout, 28.8%!, over half less than May last year,
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2011/dec/16/feltham-heston-byelection-labour-wins

  • The O’Neill

    The fact that he ‘stitched’ his brother makes it easy for Cameron to snipe at him. He’s had several digs at Ed since he became leader on the same theme.

    What worries me most is the bewildered way Ed looks back at him when he does it. Surely team Milliband must have been expecting this and could have several prepared responses at the ready.

    All very schoolboy I know but that’s the way the House of Commons works. I don’t think Major ever recovered from John Smith’s damning jibe after ‘Black Wednesday’ when he called him, ‘The Eddie the Eagle’ of Politics.

    Come on Ed, get your act together before it’s too late.

  • Chris lancashire

    And three esses in useless

  • NickSmeggHead

    Tories have been very clever by putting their people in the BBC ever since Cameron became their leader in 2005.- We have Nick Robinson who was the president of the Oxford University Conservative Association joined the BBC as Political editor in 2005.- Craig Oliver Cameron’s spin doctor joined the BBC in 2006 as editor of BBC One’s Ten O’Clock New. If you look closely in how many Tories working for BBC at present peddling Tory message, there is:- Andrew Neil – Editor of the Sunday Times supported Margaret Thatcher. At the University of Glasgow, he was a member of the Conservative Club. He later worked for the Tory Party as a research assistant.- Michael Portilo – a former Tory Cabinet Minister and a Euro sceptic.- James Landale – Deputy Political Editor was a contemporary at Eton of both David Cameron, and Boris Johnson.- Gyles Brandreth –  a former Tory Junior Minister.- Joanna Gosling news presenter, wife of Craig Oliver.- And not forgetting Chris Patten, the Conservative grandee, the chair of the BBC Trust.So Labour will never get a fair hearing until we get a proper impartial media in this country. I really don’t even want any ex-Labour MPs working for the BBC. I want a proper impartial reporting from the BBC and not the drivel we get from Nick Robinson.

  • Richard

    Paranoia in a democracy usually follows electoral failure. Ed has been navel gazing since becoming leader, and his performance in PMQs has been lamentable. If you feel that he is being unfairly treated by a RIGHT wing BBC, you are swallowing the required Ed supporters line by which you will be led into the political wilderness for generations. (Compare the situation with that misunderstood leader of men, GB. You all followed him over the edge.)
    Or, Mr MaHead stop handing round the chips and view the scene through balanced eyes.

     

  • Libdem

    Calm down Dave, where’s your sense of humour gone? Or perhaps you’ve never had one?

  • Libdem

    Don’t you think David has proved himself to be particularly indecisive? I don’t believe Ed has it in him to be any other than the way he is now so, at things like PMQs he will struggle. He also needs a better speech writing team.

  • Anonymous

    I don’t dispute any of the names you mentioned.

    As for Nick Robinson, like I say, I share Alastair Campbell’s view that yesterday was hardly a victory for Cameron, either on performance or substance, and a tie on the jokes. (I still can’t believe thats the first time they’ve used the brother’s gag either – amateurs.) So I don’t share Robinson’s assessment.

    Chris Patten was never really a conservative.

    Andrew Neil, well a man of the Times and the Spectator is hardly a leftie (though he did that brilliant anti-privelege, anti-eton, anti-oxbridge documentary.) However I think he is by far the best and fairest interviewer the BBC has, and takes apart both the Tories and Labour with aplomb.

    But even if the BBC installed General Pinochet as its new Director General, they are still incredibly left wing!

    Look how many people work for the BBC as opposed to your list.How many students, how many arty types, and of course – how many people dependent on government subsidy (all of them.)
    Look how little time they give to the Eurosceptics right now.

    And look at their position on this Europe veto. Opinion polls, even the ones the BBC use, say 60-90% of the public agree with Cameron.Yet their journalists have, to a man, been almost in tears, like its the biggest disaster since 1945 or something.

    Now you may be agree or disagree, be pro-EU or anti-EU, but the BBC should be neither. Yet they are practically the TV wing of Brussels.
    People act like the BBC are centrist, and that the Murdoch Press is right-wing. Not so. The murdoch press is indeed right-wing (though not always in terms of economics) and the BBC is left wing. You could argue the BBC needs to be left wing to counterbalance the free press. But you can’t say the BBC is not left wing.

  • MicheleB

    No I am not saying that. 
    Labour’s front bench does have plenty of experienced and accomplished talent but it also has too many members that need time to watch and learn about Parliament itself before having shadow ministerial responsibilities. 
    Their placement means that others with experience and accomplishment have been moved backwards.  That is crazy – for whatever reason it happened and it might not all have been about EM’s choice.
    Jim Murphy and Chuka Umunna of the new lot seem the most resilient to the cheap superciliousness that at the mo is the MO.

  • Libdem

    This is really simple, abolish the tv licence and privatise the BBC and then neither Labour nor the Tories could complain a public body was so anti them.

  • MicheleB

    At the risk of sounding prudish I’m also sick of the way women presenters are used by the Beeb.

    I don’t want Slippy Lips telling us about war dead or gazing up at Donald Trump on a week-long jaunt, nor anyone’s cleavage above the desk on any factual programme.

    It’s surprising but the commercial channels all have a little more restraint on their news and the ways they use women in them.

  • Anonymous

    On foreign affairs David Miliband has no equal.  I fantasise less about what he would have been like as a party leader.  It may be that in electing Ed the Labour Party has merely neutralised both Milis.  Is that Charlie Whelan’s fault?  I’m not sure.  But must we wait ten years for a leader who is the right person at the right time?  No disrespect to Ed, whom I like.  

  • NickSmeggHead

    People I list are/were members of the Tory party and reporting on the politics. Please name names who are currently working at the BBC are members of the Labour Party. 

  • Anonymous

    I’m not aware of anything that makes me think of David as indecisive, on anything major… what were you thinking of? Is it the will he, won’t he join the cabinet?

    I think he is strong on foreign policy, strong on economics, probably the best in debates, but he stood for leader and lost. Not sure how much he can do now. It must be difficult as I’m sure he wants labour and Ed to do well, but he can’t chip in if he disagrees with policy.

  • Anonymous

    Well I can’t. That doesn’t mean they don’t exist. Even if they did, I would take your point that it probably shouldn’t have either, ie 10 each would be better than 10-0, but 0-0 would be the proper amount.

    I still think the BBC is left wing though, centre left admittedly, because real left wingers are anti EU.

    Its pro EU, its pro big state, its pro left wing – don’t you think so? What about CH4? The Guardian? I actually think the Guardian is more centrist than the BBC.

    By the way, even if it supported David Cameron and his friends, thats still centre left I’d say given the degree of left wing infiltration of the Tories!

  • Libdem

    What about those occasions over a challenge to GB, will he won’t he? And have a look, they’ll amuse you…
    http://poldraw.wordpress.com/tag/david-miliband/

  • Dave Simons

    If Jeremy Clarkson had suggested on TV that the entire Royal Family should be shot the right-wing media would have been baying for his blood, even though it might have been said in jest. Substitute public sector strikers for the Royal Family and – hey presto – it becomes perfectly acceptable, and don’t the critics have a sense of humour? Perhaps they never had one?

  • AC, if Ed Miliband had been running against TB at his height you would have mocked him out of the room, poor Ed is just not Tony Blair, pre 1997 the New Labour Party was miles ahead, the Conservatives are ahead NOW, AC the Labour Party can not afford to take you back if you want that, as in a formal role, one word IRAQ, in the day you were great, a Master, but and this is the BUT, you cant go back, so spinning for Ed Miliband does you no credit. I am not sure you even believe this spin, why cant Spin Masters know when its over, that would make a good fiction book for you to write, just an idea!

  • Janiete

    I can think of several examples of nasty comments by Cameron and Osborne filmed in the HOC (can supply details if needed). Can you give me an example of ‘deceitfulness’ or ‘thuggery’ displayed by Ed Balls? I will want to see the evidence, so please include links.

  • Anonymous

    Yeah those are quite good, the kick in the arse one is best!

    I think in terms of the will-he won’t he challenge brown, I think he took a long time over that decision, trying to work out if he could succeed, if he could win the election, if it was the best time etc and I think he was right to do that. I think in terms of decisions like going to war thats the approach needed some times. 

  • Janiete

    Well at least you’re now describing the BBC as ‘centre left’ instead of ‘far left’ as you did a few days ago. So perhaps a bit of progress there!
     
    I think the BBC is (still) more socially liberal than most on the political right are comfortable with, but in terms of domestic party politics, they are currently sympathetic to the Conservatives.
     
    The draconian funding settlement and the appointment of Chris Patten have no doubt been responsible for some of this, but the rot started well before the election. Their treatment of Gordon Brown was, at times, appalling.
     
    I find your descriptions of the BBC and David Cameron being left wing, the Conservatives of having been ‘infiltrated by left wingers’ and the BBC as the ‘TV wing of Brussels’ rather bizarre.

  • Ehtch

    What Ed is going through is more or less the same as what Tony Blair went through before ’97 with the cheshire cat jibes towards him by the London-centric media then. It is all piffle nonsense as far as I can see. He is coming into his job nicely, I think. Things don’t happen overnight.

  • Anonymous

    I agree Alastair…the prime minister uses some pre-prepared gags and his supporters go delirious…When unemployment figures are so bad,all the PM can do is engage in pre-prepared wise-cracking…What a heartless PR man

  • Anonymous

    If more jobs were created,why is unemployment going up???Channel 4 reports that most of the private sector jobs are actually self employment…People trying out a business after being sacked

  • Anonymous

    Because of the way the books are cooked, and both parties are to blame for this going way back.

    You can have more people unemployed and more people in employment by some of their measures!

    Because people can for example go into certain training schemes where they are not counted on the employment list, yet taken off the unemployment list.
    Also, more people can suddenly become employable ie of employment age, for example in a year we could create 200,000 new jobs, but lose 100,000 jobs. You’d expect employment to rise overall by 100,000 and it would. But unemployment could also rise because perhaps 300,000 people could leave school that year and 150,000 immigrants could arrive. So you’ve swelled the overall pot of “employable” people.

    There could be clear ways of counting and reporting all this of course, but no government wants clarity in this, they want ambiguity so that they can argue the figures are good, or improving, no matter what happens.

  • Anonymous

    Janiete, perhaps I have descended to the tactics I dislike which is exaggerating my position, to counteract the other side exaggerating theirs.

    For example Andy Burnham accused David Cameron of being “as right wing as Margaret Thatcher”. I think in a sensible forum as this we can agree thats false?

    And I will also say that if I said the bbc was far left… thats probably false too!

    They also may be sympathetic to Cameron’s style of ‘conservatives’.

    But they are very biased towards big government, and very very biased towards the EU.

    Other than the veto, call-me-dave is too!

  • Anonymous

    Well, can I point out that I can’t give you any links that prove communist regimes shoot protestors – it doesn’t mean they didn’t.

    And that I mean, in this case, that Ed Balls looks deceitful, comes across as deceitful, whether he is or not.

    Whereas I think Ed Miliband comes across as honest, though I don’t know if he is.

    So I’m talking in terms of voters. I, subjectively, think Ed Balls is shifty.
    I’ve also heard that many have called him a bully and a thug including Tony Blair, though I suspect you won’t believe that unless I get blair on a videoconference to tell you – alas I don’t have such access.

    But anyway, all that said I wouldn’t want to disappoint you so here we have Ed Balls being deceitful, it happens throughout but look for the bit where Andrew Neil says “You know that’s nonsense!”, enjoy:
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-15069297

    Andrew and I study economic history – there are plenty of other examples of Balls being deceitful on the economy.
    But please don’t ask me to point out where he is wrong on the economy as the massive amount of results may crash google!

    Some people can’t be prime minister, even if they are very knowledgeable, because of the way they come across. For example John Redwood.
    I also think George Osborne looks shifty. Its not an anti-labour attack.

  • Janiete

    Well Reaguns, if that’s the most critical clip you can find on Ed Balls, he and the Labour Party have absolutely nothing to worry about. He had a coherent and economically convincing response to everything Neil put to him.
     
    Clearly you have no evidence to justify the nasty remarks you made. They just confirm my view that unpleasant personal comments are often used to cover up weaknesses of an argument and to inflict personal damage on opponents.

  • Brendan Morley

    I’ve seen this movie before. Miliband is Kinnock mark two. The parallels are striking. Self-evidently not PM material. Knows it and therefore is painfully publicly insecure. Always trying to prove himself, rather than leading the agenda. Lightweight. Verbose, never knows when to shut up. Questions too long. Ruins attempts at jokes with crap longwinded delivery. All he needs is to fall into the sea, have a punch-up in a restaurant or stage a rally in Sheffield where he shouts “We’re alright, we’re alright” like Billy Graham on ecstasy and the picture will be complete. But this film has the same ending as Kinnock: The Movie – and the final scene it isn’t on the steps of 10  Downing Street.

  • Anonymous

    I explained, that even if the only youtube clip I could find of Ed Balls involved him feeding homeless kittens, it doesn’t mean he hasn’t done worse things that aren’t on youtube.
    You are arguing at the question time level, ie the one that would get a cheer from the stupid people in the crowd.
    I don’t deny that this might be a good political strategy.
    But surely among friends here on a reasonably sensible sight of a sensible labour man, we would want to be right, rather than just seem right to stupid people?
    And by the way Ed Balls did not give a coherent economic argument to Andrew Neil. Check Neil’s blog for an explanation of why. Or ask someone like me who understands economics, the real kind that is not the vote buying kind.

  • Cromwellcv

    I agree mostly with the your take about the media bias.  Afterall there had been several PMQs where Ed Miliband flattened Cameron; even on the week in question for the ‘europe debate’.
    David Cameron could not answer any of the questions Ed Miliband put to him.  Maybe that was why David Cameron and Tories came to PMQs well rehearsed and agressive posture.

    That said, Ed Miliband let Cameron off the hook a few times. 
    On the imbalance in the lose of jobs in the public sector to those in the private sector;  Ed Miliband had Cameron on the ropes with the kind of answer Cameron gave. Ed could have pressed Cameron, or even quipped ‘Did anyone get any answer the question”.  It’s like Ed did not actually hear the non-answer the PM provided.  If Miliband knew how distressed the PM’s answers were, he would have done more with it. Maybe its Cameron’s shouting, Tories and lib-dems jeering  that puts Ed off his trail.

    On balance Ed had been getting the better of Cameron for a while now at the dispatch box.

  • janner333

    Sorry – I know this is late, but I’ve got to vent. I’m in despair!  The PMQ session immediately before Christmas was a disaster for Ed – the Tories were there for the taking and it should have been like shooting fish in a barrel. But Instead, it was a turkey shoot. Ed came across as Ernie Wise to Dave’s Eric Morecambe – he kept setting him up with feeble assaults and DC kept knocking ’em down. And now, the New Year picks up where the old one left off. A stupid race row – with Ed’s decisive action constituting a severe telling off for Diane Abbott – ooh, scary. It’s hardly surprising leading figures in the party are now openly expressing their dissatisfaction with the way things are going.

    And more worryingly, I’m looking at the communications coming out of party HQ. Where – and what – is the strategy? On Wednesday I receive an email from Tessa Jowell, exhorting me to support Ken’s bid for mayor and make a donation – all good stuff. On Thursday, however, I get an email from Ken’s Head of Visits and Events that seems to have been created by a bunch of pubescent school boys – with a totaliser shaped like a chicken (because Boris won’t participate in a debate…tee-hee, guffaw) and then, at the end, the priceless opportunity to name said chicken. Didn’t the idea of dressing people up in chicken costumes/as Lord Snooty backfire spectacularly in 2010? If it was a turkey totaliser we were being asked to name, I’m sure we’d have a clear winner. 

    It seems, unfortunately, that the wing of the party that lost the election ended up winning the party.