Letter No 50  by Mike Allott: back to directory

31 December 2011

Brotherly advice for Ed Miliband

Your Christmas editorial (26 December) wonders why David Cameron is still "in command" and why Ed Miliband "is not currently seen as equal to this grave hour". First: successful political leadership now requires intelligence and likability. Intelligence is a necessary but not sufficient condition. Political winners, above all, have to be likable under scrutiny. 

Second: if Miliband is the leader of the "red team", Cameron leads a blue and yellow team. This newly blended sage colour will always seem warmer than an austere blue. And now that the pursuit of social justice is firmly embedded in all of the three main party constitutions, it is difficult to see how a "red team" could inspire any supporters, other than those last-century socialist revolutionaries who have never accepted political relegation.

Third: a successful political leader has first to earn trust. The public will forgive ruthlessness. They will not easily forgive heartlessness and brutality. By challenging his brother for the leadership of the Labour party and by skilfully manipulating a leftwing bias within the party structure, he denied the core party membership the leader of its choice, and in doing so has probably denied the country the opportunity to warm to one of the most able centrist politicians of his generation.

Ed Miliband himself was driven by self-belief on a colossal scale. It would seem, so far, he has little else to offer.

Mike Allott