Fraser Nelson

Will Ed Miliband face facts?

Will Ed Miliband face facts?
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I knew that David Miliband had lost the moment I saw him walk in the room, smiling like Michael Portillo on election night 1997. And when I saw Ed Balls look of pure murder: his enemy had won. Time to destroy.

We saw a tension in this result: the MPs and members leaned towards David, who had a tough message on the deficit, who defended the Iraq war, who basically had an agenda for government. Whereas Ed Miliband's agenda is for opposition: he'll be marching alongside the unions the day before Osborne's spending review.

As I say in the News of the World tomorrow, Ed will ooze left wing morals and righteous anger and that will work well in opposition. But as Michael Foot found in 1983, it means you strike the country as being not quite serious about government. The public now accept the need for cuts (see below graph, from Mori/Citi); they do not want government to keep putting the country into debt. The case has been made. Being against the cuts now is like being against nukes in the Cold War.

No wonder the unions went for him, by such a margin - they put him in power, and will expect repayment. Ed's victory shows that Labour can't really be bothered fighting its way back to power. Heartening for the Tories because they have seen Labour hellbent on power (in the Blair years), and they have seen the party pander to its base – and the unions. Ed stood as the candidate of the latter. The Tories can only hope that he'll keep it up.

And will he? Well, not for the next few weeks. His mission will be to shed the "Red Ed" image, say some right-wing things. There will be come confected "row" with the unions, so he can be seen to be standing up to his paymasters. Also he has spent the last few months pitching to the Labour selectorate - he'll now have to pitch himself at the British electorate. So he'll look and sound a lot more normal than he has in the last few weeks. But at the end of the day, the GMB gave him £28k and Unite £100,000. What do you suppose they thought they would get in exchange for all that cash? Over the next few months, I suspect we'll find out.

When Tony Blair became Labour leader, he did so in defiance of the unions. Ed Miliband today became leader at their behest. This is, to be, a fundamental difference. Blairism, with all its electoral appeal, may end up a weird blip in Labour Party's history. That piece of anti-Kryptonite, which Blair wielded to such effect, may well have been discarded by Labour today.

No sane Tory thinks the next election is now in the bag - especially given the party's failure to win in May. But the winds which swept Ed to power today usually blow Labour into the electoral gutter. And this is why so many Tories are sincere in their approval of today's outcome: they genuinely believe that the best man lost.