He was once dismissed as a younger Mr Bean. With his lack of charisma, bulging eyes and protruding teeth, he was alternatively called a “sad-eyed Panda” and compared to a character from the Wallace and Gromit cartoon. In a matter of months, Ed Miliband (45) has now risen to the unlikely status of a trend-setter among teenagers and the urban left.
So rapid and stunning has been his metamorphosis, that Cameron refused to confront him live on TV. Asked whether he would be ready to verbally fight Putin, Red Ed simply spluttered: — “Hell, yes, I’m tough enough”.
“Red Ed” they call him, thanks to his Marxist father, Ralph Miliband, a Polish Jew who fled Belgium in 1940 to become a respected professor at the London School of Economics (he is buried in the Highgate cemetery, not far from Marx’s tomb).
“Never will I drop that low and support a Jew”, commented on Facebook Gulzabeen Afsar, a Tory council candidate in Derby (she was swiftly suspended). A young lady ignorant of history, for England already had Disraeli and his gears, not to mention that Cameron himself is partly of Jewish descent. (As an aside, Miliband took from Disraeli the slogan “One Nation”.)
In 2010, Red Ed crushed his brother David, Tony Blair’s inheritor. David, who was Foreign secretary, had been designated to take over the party. Ed, four years younger, had been Gordon Brown’s ghost writer and a decent junior secretary in charge of energy and climate.
To everybody’s surprise, Ed attacked his brother by ostensibly leaning left and getting support from trade unions. He won with a margin of 1.3 % of party members’ votes. A bitter David left for New York, where he now leads a humanitarian organisation.
Ed also disappeared for five years, before coming to remind everybody that under his dull appearance lives a ruthless fighter, as the political stabbing of his own brother showed.
He started an Obama-style campaign, as in 2008, when the little-known Barack was sporting his muscled torso on wave-swept beaches. Or rather a Justin Bieber-style campaign. The masterstroke was to come up with a “teenager fanclub”. Abby, a fictitious 17-year-old girl, supposedly crazed by Miliband, tweeted one day her excitement, and suddenly the hashtag #milifandom started being used tens of thousands of times.
The Tories didn’t ask why a pretty teenager would be enthralled by a stiff politician in his forties with a nasal voice (ruined by the unforeseen side effects of an operation). No, they desperately stole the idea and launched their own fictitious sect of “Cameronettes”, teenage girls mad with the prime minister’s classy pout.
Alas, grey-haired spin doctors and ugly bespectacled nerds are most likely behind the wave of creative and efficient “Milibandettes”, who tweet photoshopped pics of Ed disguised as Rambo, or as a political Iron Man set to chastise the Tory baddies.
Ed firmly promised that there would be no EU referendum with him. However, Europe is as absent from his vocabulary as it is from Cameron’s. The Milibandettes’ demi-god has no more Europe to sell than the villainous Tory boss.
For more sober-minded analysts, even in domestic matters Red Ed’s ostensible leftist drive is but a facade, for he is rather “Labour Blue” when it comes to money and jobs, or even “Tory Light”.
“How could we trust a man who stabs his own brother in the back?”, shout the Tories (e.g. Michael Fallon). But for Ed’s faithful, that episode only proves how shrewd and ruthless their champion can be. And he certainly is, except for those moments of self-doubt and loneliness when he gently cries: “Oh, brother, where art thou ?”