Ed Miliband’s main aim for this year’s Labour conference is to show people what makes him ‘tick’, bringing across his personality to voters. He was rather wooden when he appeared on the Andrew Marr Show this morning, and made it clear that this getting-to-know-you conference won’t be about a personality change, but emphasising his own true character traits.
He was keen to suggest that he possesses nerves of steel in standing up to the trade unions, who the Sunday Times reports are trying to flush out remaining bastions of support for Tony Blair within Labour. He said:
‘You can’t say at one and the same time that Len McCluskey is saying ‘you’re wrong on pay restraint’ and then say that we’re giving in to him and he is pulling our strings.’
Incidentally, Progress, the group most despised by the trade unions, holds a rally in Manchester tonight. The speakers are Lord Adonis, Douglas Alexander and Hilary Benn: will they respond to McCluskey’s comments about kicking ‘the new Labour cuckoos out of our nest’?
Miliband also seems very keen to appear unashamed about being a geek: he told Marr that ‘I’m my own person and I’m going to do it my own way’.
His former guru Lord Glasman told Sky News a little later that ‘the longer that you know him, the more you like him’. It was probably intended purely as praise, but Glasman’s statement did betray one of Miliband’s current weaknesses: those who know him personally find him likeable and entertaining, while the electorate, who will never know him personally, doubt he could be Prime Minister.
PS He also appears to have made at least one solid pledge: he’d put Britain’s top rate of tax back up to 50p, the third-highest rate on the planet.