Martin Bright

Ed Miliband calls for humility - now let’s see some

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So Ed Miliband told the Parliamentary Labour Party that he and they need to show humility. He is right, but this is easy to say and much, much harder to do. We shall see whether he has managed it at the despatch box tomorrow when the tackles David Cameron at his first PMQs.

The feeling power gives politicians seeps into their bones and they get used to the trappings of deference. Ed Miliband has been close to significant power for most of his adult life, as have many of the people around him. 

They need to realise that for a while - about 18 months probably - no one will be seriously interested in what Ed Miliband's vast new team of shadow ministers has to say. The lobbyists have long gone and soon the hacks, once so sycophantic, will start postponing lunches.

If the new Labour leader wants to see what happens when parties fail to accept the reality of opposition, he only need look opposite him in the Commons. The Tories didn't get the hang of it until David Davis became shadow Home Secretary in 2003 and even then it took a further election defeat before they really "got it" to echo the Labour leader's catch phrase.

In order for a defeated party to look like it can win agin, it first needs to learn how to be an opposition: holding the government to account, taking ministerial scalps.

But before it can be an opposition it needs to accept it has been defeated. And that is the hardest part of all.