There have been points during the last ten months when being an Ed Miliband supporting blogger and tweeter from the right of the Labour Party has been a lonely business.
Ed’s handling of the phone hacking scandal and his courage in putting his neck on the line to take on News International has vindicated the trust that I and a majority of Labour’s Electoral College put in him last September.
Elements of the party who didn’t vote for him, having been in a prolonged sulk that meant that they focussed on everything he did wrong and nothing that he did right, are suddenly having to change their tune.
It’s good to see a lot of other people wake up and understand the qualities of courage, decisiveness and judgement I saw in Ed as long ago as his speech to Labour’s Birmingham Spring Conference in 2008, which was the point I decided I wanted to vote for him to be Gordon Brown’s successor as Labour leader.
The events of recent weeks have seen Labour extend its opinion poll lead to 8% according to YouGov and Ed’s net personal rating improving by 13% to catch up with Cameron’s, with the public’s verdict on their handling of the scandal putting Miliband on 49% well to 28% badly; Cameron 36% well to 48% badly.
While some of us kept the faith and knew that Ed had what it took to be a great Labour leader, and have been vindicated, it’s now amusing (whereas at the time it was annoying and infuriating) to see how badly flawed others’ judgement of him was even a matter of days ago – not just failing to give Ed the benefit of the doubt but actively deriding those of us who defended him.
The easiest target in the Labour blogosphere is Dan Hodges. It’s almost cruel to taunt him about his earlier anti-Ed tirades, but he dealt it out (without any thought that he might have been damaging the party by attacking its leader) so I’m sure he can take it.
Here’s Dan on July 6th, less than two weeks ago and AFTER the phone hacking scandal really took off:
“If Ed Miliband tries to be himself, it will be a disaster”
Those commenting on Dan’s article were even more off the mark:
· “I don’t like him for being weak enough to want to please the tabloid right wing press”
· “The problem, of course, is that it doesn’t matter who Ed “is”, or who he tries to “be”. He’s got LOSER written right through him more clearly than a stick of Blackpool rock”
· “the sad fact is that Ed Miliband is the wrong leader of the Labour Party”
· “it’s a shame that the Labour Party doesn’t have a more dynamic leader”
· “So far Ed’s come up with platitudes and bull-shit, just like many I’m still waiting for something better to come along.”
I could go back to older articles by Dan and find reams of similarly premature writing-off of Ed (headlines like “Miliband is a scared man leading a scared party”, “Does Ed Miliband have a Plan B”).
But I’m not going to rub it in.
A simple “I told you so” will suffice, and now Mr Hodges (and those politicians who have been briefing and anonymously quoting to you) please apply your cleverness and political and writing energy to capitalising on the gutsy young leader we have and helping him lead Labour to victory. Some of the rest of us – maybe not as clever as Dan but a bit more loyal and consistent – have a ten month start on him.