Despite the cheering on of every opinion poll that shows a narrowing of the gap between Labour and Tory, the right-leaning part of the punditry is still frightened at the prospect of Mil The Younger crossing the threshold of 10 Downing Street – and, worse for them, armed with an absolute Commons majority. So yesterday’s leader’s speech was always going to provoke a suitably screaming reaction.
And so it proved, not least at the bear pit that is Telegraph blogs, where all hands were called to the deck to mount an assault of condemnation on whatever Miliband said, if only because he was, well, Labour leader. The unlikely figure of consumer affairs editor Steve Hawkes led the charge: “Ed Miliband's energy price freeze: this is a crazy idea that could create blackouts”. We’ll hear more of that.
Janet Daley, meanwhile, had nothing to say, but had to say it anyway: “Ed Miliband gave a speech to the hall, not the country”. That’s otherwise known as money for old rope. Meanwhile Damian Thompson, clueless pundit of no fixed hair appointment, lowered the tone with “‘Britain can do better than this’ – a crap slogan that wrecked Ed Miliband’s speech”. They let any old riff-raff write for the Tel nowadays.
But where was the frightening prospect of “Socialism”? Enter former Murdoch servant Iain Martin to stiffen the resolve of the troops, telling “Red Ed is back with a land grab”. Yeah, your investment is going to be snatched from you by a Soviet-era regime! Attaboy Iain, and don’t bother addressing the question of all those firms hoarding their land banks and refusing to do anything with them.
Was there anyone with a good word for Ed? Not yet there wasn’t: the loathsome Toby Young asserted that this was a restatement of Labour’s 1983 manifesto, except he was talking out of the back of his neck again. And Dan Hodges whined “The hall loved Ed Miliband’s speech. But he didn’t look like a Prime Minister in waiting”, which means Dan Says He’s Rubbish (again).
But there were some who dissented from the approved line. Benedict “famous last words” Brogan cautioned “It would be easy to dismiss Ed Miliband as a bug-eyed socialist. But the Tories should be wary”. Miliband had hit a nerve, struck a chord. And Peter Oborne was once more of independent view: “More and more he reminds me of Clem Attlee and the civilised approach to politics which he represented”.
Oborne went on “Mr Miliband is not the leader of some virtual political party, constructed by focus group experts to appeal to the lowest common denominator. He represents a great political movement, and it is his job to speak on behalf of the underprivileged and the disenfranchised”. Oh dear, someone at the Telegraph just let the real world into the circle jerking session.
And there’s the rub: the cat-calling is a desperate attempt to shut out reality.