Ed miliband

Will Keir Starmer ever learn to loosen up?

Tom Baldwin declares at the outset: ‘It’s only fair to warn those hoping to find these pages spattered with blood that they will be disappointed.’ Fair enough. This is not an authorised biography, but it is a friendly one, written with Keir Starmer’s co-operation. Baldwin briefly worked as Labour’s communications director, and then was asked to help Starmer with his autobiography. They did several interviews, but Starmer always had reservations and finally pulled the plug last spring. Instead, he agreed that Baldwin could write this book, using some of the material he had already gathered, and that he would assist him with contacts. Starmer’s worst fault, according to his friends,

PMQs: The return of Ed Miliband

Today’s pre-Budget Prime Minister’s Questions would probably have been unremarkable had it not been for a sudden change of cast. At the very last minute, it was announced that Sir Keir Starmer had tested positive for Covid and would be replaced in the chamber by a blast from his party’s past in the form of Ed Miliband.  Tory MPs were largely focused on ensuring that the session was as pointless as possible The former Labour leader joked that his return to this session was for one time only, before launching into a series of questions about the government’s preparation for the COP summit. He accused Boris Johnson of offering warm


Cabinet mask-off as Sir Keir self-isolates (again)

Oh dear. Poor Keir Starmer has tested positive for Covid meaning he has to miss today’s Budget. Unlike Boris, he has managed to avoid getting ill until now but it’s the fifth time he has been forced to self-isolate after four previous incidents. Starmer’s absence means that shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves will be forced to step in to deliver the response to Rishi Sunak’s speech, while Prime Ministers’ Questions will be fronted by Ed Miliband. Ahead of COP26, it looks like Labour intend to show their eco-credentials by recycling their old leaders too… On the Tory side, a different Covid row dominates: the ongoing saga about masks. The Leader of the

Keir Starmer’s brains trust

Who are Keir Starmer’s big thinkers? Every political leader has them: folk who provoke them and offer a type of politics and policy that they can pick and choose from. Ed Miliband had ‘salons’ with key thinkers who he respected, David Cameron had Steve Hilton, and Tony Blair had a whole suite of colleagues working on his project in opposition. Starmer hasn’t been in politics for very long, which is one of the reasons he felt the need to write such a long essay setting out what he thinks: he doesn’t have the back catalogue of speeches and pamphlets that many other senior politicians do. He’s not really a ‘salon’

The best food podcasts

You have to hand it to Ed Miliband. After bacon sandwich-gate, he might never have eaten in public again, but there he was, wolfing down cod and chickpeas, eggs and Za’atar on the chart-topping podcast Table Manners with Jessie Ware. Presumably he thought that audio would be a fail-safe medium in which to redeem himself. No cameras, no aggressive questioning (the show is co-hosted by singer Jessie Ware and her mum Lennie), no risk. Suffice it to say he underestimated this one. An early part of the conversation, in précis, ran like this: ‘What’s your go-to dish?’, ‘I’m a recipe-box follower and a recipe follower.’ ‘Which recipe books?’, ‘That’s a

Ed Miliband’s Brexit ‘embrace’ isn’t fooling anyone

Ed Miliband gave an interview this week in which he decided it would be a good idea to bring up the topic of Brexit. The interviewer spotted an opportunity and asked Miliband if he had ‘embraced’ our departure from the EU. ‘You’ve got to embrace it because that argument is over,’ was the former Labour leader’s response. That one sentence was a perfect demonstration of the way Labour’s top figures keep getting Brexit wrong, and continue to fail to understand why the issue hurts them as it did in Hartlepool a month ago. Labour now have two basic ways to go on Brexit. One is to become the soft anti-Brexit

A politician’s guide to non-denial denials

Michael Gove was deployed to the Commons on Monday afternoon to answers questions on the ministerial code, an hour-long appearance in which he was (inevitably) asked about that day’s Daily Mail splash: ‘Boris: Let the bodies pile high in their thousands’. An awkward question for any minister to handle, you might think, but the oleaginous Gove just about got away with it. Asked directly about the reports, the Cabinet Office minister gave a lengthy reply which contained this key passage to wriggle out of trouble again: Tens of thousands of people were dying. The Prime Minister made a decision in that meeting to trigger a second lockdown. He made a

What Starmer can learn from Miliband’s mug

Since becoming Labour leader, Keir Starmer has single-mindedly been trying to persuade red wall voters that Labour is ‘patriotic’, just like them. He thereby hopes to clear away those cultural barriers that have arisen between Labour in the north and midlands where voting for the party used to be almost instinctive. As he said in his first leader’s speech back in September, Starmer wants red wall voters to ‘take another look’ at Labour now it is under his leadership: he wants to show them that it is no longer the party of Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters. But many in his party don’t like what Starmer is doing, because a significant

How the Labour party ran out of ideas

After losing the leadership contest in April, the left of the Labour Party regrouped. Organising as part of old factions like the Socialist Campaign Group and new ones such as Don’t Leave, Organise, they have held Zoom events and created websites, pledging to make life difficult for Keir Starmer. One thing is missing, however, from their plans: any serviceable ideas. The left of the party can’t seem to name one solid thing in policy terms on which they disagree with Starmer. And, they appear unable to point to a single practical thing they would do differently had they won the leadership contest. Instead, they frame everything in culture war terms,

Diary – 16 August 2018

Taking my new stand-up show Girl on Girl to the Edinburgh festival this year and playing at the prestigious venue the Gilded Balloon, was hand on heart the most stressful thing I have ever done — and I lived through the Ed Stone. My nerves were off the scale. Will anyone come to see the show? Will it be a massive disaster? Is this a very public and expensive cry for help? Why don’t I just go on a yoga retreat? These are all the things which swirl round your head seconds before you go on stage. Stand-up is one of the hardest things you can do. It’s just you

How the Miliband has fallen

When Ed Miliband was elected Labour leader in 2010, he must have imagined himself headlining Labour conferences for years to come. He would stand on stage delivering the defining political speeches and bold policy moves that would propel him to victory in a general election. Alas, many bacon sandwiches, conference gaffes, and an EdStone later, it didn’t quite end up as he wanted. Miliband can take heart that he is still on the line-up at this year’s Momentum sponsored conference ‘The World Transformed,’ but probably not quite as high up in the billing as he pictured eight years ago. Instead, while the likes of Jeremy Corbyn and Diane Abbott strut

Leveson 2 has been defeated – but the enemies of press freedom will be back

The parliamentary majority for keeping a free press in Britain fell to just nine votes this evening. The attempt to bring back another Leveson Report to harass the press was defeated by a dangerously thin margin. Quite something, given that the ideas under discussion would not have looked out of place in Orban’s Hungary. The point of another Leveson Inquiry would have been to harass newspapers in general and Rupert Murdoch’s titles (and staff) in particular. The other amendment was on the cards was even worse: forcing newspapers to pay the legal bills of anyone who wanted to sue them, whether or not they were in the wrong. This is an

Listen: Ed Miliband hosts toilet discussion on Radio 2

Poor old Ed Miliband. The former Labour leader was once convinced he was destined for Downing Street. Now, he’s hosting discussions about toilets on Radio 2. Standing in for Jeremy Vine, Miliband introduced music, chatted politics – and talked to guests about what types of loos they have. The Labour MP even asked one guest to flush their WC to hear what it sounded like. But Mr S was worried things hit something of a bum note for Ed when he had to remind one guest to ‘be tactful’ as he discussed trying to clean his toilet: ‘We’re talking loos and you’ve been getting in touch with us…Nicola Richards from Loughborough says ‘As a mum, I have to

Corbyn copy

Since the election, Jeremy Corbyn has been parading himself as prime-minister-in-waiting. ‘Cancellation of President Trump’s State Visit is welcome,’ he tweeted this week, ‘especially after his attack on London’s Mayor and withdrawal from #ParisClimateDeal.’ The message was clear: unlike ‘Theresa the appeaser’, Jeremy is willing and able to tell that climate change-denying Islamophobe across the water to get stuffed. Jez we can, Jez we can. There may be another reason why Corbyn is glad to think that Trump might not come to these shores, and that’s because the more the British see of the dreaded Donald, the more they might recognise how much he and the Labour leader have in

Stupid is as stupid votes | 21 May 2017

John Stuart Mill is usually credited as the person who first called the Conservatives ‘the stupid party’, but that isn’t quite accurate. Rather, he referred to the Tories as the stupidest party, and he didn’t mean that it was more stupid than every other party in the country, just the Liberals. If you substitute the Lib Dems for the Liberal party, that probably isn’t true any more, and it certainly isn’t true if you include Labour in the mix. No, I think there is now a strong case for passing the crown to Jeremy Corbyn’s party. If you look at Labour’s leaders, this is a very recent development. Harold Wilson

Red Theresa

Never has the Conservative party been more confident about winning a general election. Theresa May’s popularity ratings have broken all records; her aim in this campaign is not just to defeat the Labour party but to destroy it. The Tory MPs who talk about ten years in power are the more cautious ones; some talk about staying in government until the 2040s. The party’s name is seldom mentioned in this campaign. We instead hear only about ‘Theresa May’s team’, and voters seem to approve. As to what the Conservatives stand for, they’d rather not say. At times it seems they’re not even quite sure. The Tory messages revolve around Jeremy

Capping prices to win votes is no substitute for a serious energy strategy | 29 April 2017

Is capping domestic energy prices an equitable way to help the ‘just about managing’, or an electoral gimmick with a whiff of anti-free-market ideology? When it was Ed Miliband’s idea, it was certainly the latter. Now it’s likely to be included in Theresa May’s manifesto, offering a potential £100 saving for millions of homes on ‘standard variable tariffs’, it is defended by the ever-plausible Sir Michael Fallon as a matter of ‘intervening to make markets work better’. And that, after all, is what the Prime Minister said she would do, wherever necessary, in the interests of fairness. In a regulated market, within which the consumer’s ability to choose the most

Do do God

This election was won two days before it was announced, on Easter Sunday. Theresa May put out an Easter message in which she suggested that British values had a Christian basis. It was her version of David Cameron’s message two years before, in which he said that Britain is a Christian country. She was rather more convincing. I don’t know whether Cameron is sincerely religious, but he didn’t seem it. He didn’t even seem to try very hard to seem it, as if fearing that his metropolitan support might weaken, and perhaps that George Osborne would make a snarky jibe about it at cabinet. But it still did him good

Ed Miliband needs a second act, not a comedy act

When a shell-shocked Ed Miliband stepped down as Labour leader following the party’s defeat in the 2015 election, he concluded his speech by saying that: ‘The course of progress and social justice is never simple or straightforward. Change happens because people don’t give up, they don’t take no for an answer, they keep demanding change’ The change that party members demanded from the blank slate of Labour’s election defeat turned out to be Jeremy Corbyn; and Miliband slunk back to Doncaster to not ‘take no for an answer’ – from the scenic climes of the backbenches. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Last week, I voiced my frustration that Miliband was appearing

Ed Miliband’s sassy Twitter reinvention is bad news for Labour

I really liked Ed Miliband. I thought he would make a great Prime Minister. He was wide-eyed and striving, the less hip or handsome of the Miliband brothers, but undeniably a fine man. In recent months, however, he has tried to shed that image. He now wants to seem cool. This morning, for example, Miliband responded to the Daily Mail’s controversial ‘Legs-it’ cover by tweeting ‘The 1950s called and asked for their headline back’. He then proceeded to engage in a back-and-forth with James Blunt (another of Twitter’s surprise rehabilitations) who wrote ‘It’s been such a pleasure guest-editing @Ed_Miliband’s Twitter page these last couple of weeks.’ Miliband then delivered the exchange’s coup de grace, slaying