Miliband shows his us his passion and flair (but where was that yesterday Ed?)


Before the Budget statement Ed Miliband was careful not to use any material that anyone would remember afterwards. He’d learned, quite rightly – that you use your ammunition when the public are watching. And besides, responses to Parliamentary responses are his stock in trade, and many of his best performances as Labour leader have come in similar situations in the House.

But today he went up a gear. Who is this man, and what have you done with our leader?

He was like a man posessed, machine-gunning the Chancellor (who looked, as several MPs remarked once leaving the chamber – quite sick) with a ra-ta-tat of body blows – on borrowing and growth.

It was clean and clinical.

Miliband also showed that he has a flair for Parliamentary theatre – when he asked the Prime Minister (and they the whole Cabinet) to acknowledge whether or not they would benefit from the 50p tax cut. Some forced out a sullen smile, others winced, Cameron remained impassive. Rendered mute. He didn’t like it, but it serves him right – “brave” Dave has used the same tactic enough on Miliband.

His ad-libbing was better too. His riposte to Osborne that they were borrowing more was angry, aggressive and right, without being shrill (an occasional Miliband failing). And his final prepared joke – that Osborne’s budget could be summed up as a tweet (now that Osborne is on Twitter) was riotously good fun and sharply accurate. So much so #downgradedchancellor was trending worldwide on Twitter within a matter of minutes.

The Labour leader had just scored a social media coup.

No, seriously, what have you done with Ed Miliband?

He was at his best today when he channeled the anger of a country at the Chancellor. No growth, more borrowing, no hope. He attacked the same old budget and the maintenance of the status quo.

But yet as much as I enjoyed Miliband’s performance, what stuck in my craw was that Miliband had only last night urged his MPs to abstain and save the a Tories from the punishment for their own incompetence on workfare. That was more of the same triangulation on welfare from Miliband. In the eyes of some Labour supporters, it was a decision that “downgraded” Labour.

Today’s passion was well placed – but where was this Ed yesterday? Brave and angry and honest? Because we needed you then Ed too – perhaps more so.

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