John Reid made a bruising and quite extraordinary appearance on the Daily Politics earlier today. He demolished the Labour leader. Reid’s analysis was concise: there has been a vacuum at the heart of Labour since Tony Blair’s departure. Gordon Brown was divisive, at best, and clearly not up to the demands of leadership. And, Reid intimated, Brown's child shares his father’s foibles. Ed Miliband has not impressed so far, having failed to understand the cause of New Labour's success. Case in point, his support for the coalition’s very liberal policies on crime, and his inability to perceive that New Labour’s sustained dominance was due to constant policy renewal, not ideological trauma. As an extra step in his dance, Reid recalled Neil Kinnock's decree that ‘we’ve got our party back.’ He added, with playful irony in his eyes, that he found it 'offensive'.
By this stage, Reid had reached his climax. Effecting an earnest barritone for gravitas, and with his eyes ruefully sedate, he said that David Cameron is infinitely more confident in government than he was in opposition, astutely bestriding the centre ground and heading for an overall majority. Not even Cameron's Full Flashman is this heartless.
The old guard subsist by denigrating. But Miliband’s concern is that plenty on the left and right of the Parliamentary Labour Party echo Reid’s wagging tongue, especially on the lack of policy. On the face of it, the Liberal Democrat left is uninterested too. The polls concur as well. The unspoken upshot is that, ultimately, Ed Miliband cannot combat the Prime Minister.