Coffee House

Labour conference: Ed Miliband’s class war video is a mistake

1 October 2012

In America, presidential candidates make films about serving in Vietnam. In Britain, Ed Miliband has made one about going to a comprehensive. If this really is the most exciting and appeal thing about him, then Labour is in some trouble. The intention of the video is clear enough: he wanted to say ‘I didn’t go to Eton’ over and over again. But do voters care? Only in Westminster is it exceptional to have gone to what Alastair Campbell called a ‘bog standard comprehensive’ and Ed Miliband would be ill-advised to claim that he won a Purple Heart of the Proletariat. He was born into Labour aristocracy, the son of a Marxist historian, he’s been having discussions about politics from pre-school age and has spent almost all of his working life in SW1 apart from a year in Harvard which he took as a sabbatical because Ed Balls was making his life hell at the Treasury. He has many admirable characteristics, but he should not try to play the working class hero card that (say) Alan Johnson or John Reid could have done, had they chose. But neither really did. The irony is that people who did climb all the way up the ladder of life seldom make a thing about it. And Haverstock Comprehensive is a good school, attended by many scions of the north London liberal elite. Trying to make out that it’s the Bronx, or even Brixton, is really quite lame.

More importantly, the video fails because it does not convey the Ed Miliband who comes across in person: warm, charming, good company, completely untribal. But whip out a microphone and he becomes staid and formulaic. His friends say they wish he could go out and meet the voters individually, do a massive pub crawl and win people over that way. A personal video should really have tried to do this job for him. Instead, he let Labour strategists talk him into a lame attempt at class war. When Tom Watson did this in his speech yesterday, it even fell flat amongst Labour’s delegates. I doubt Miliband will score much better with his video when it is aired tonight.

P.S. We’ll post his video below when it becomes available.

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Show comments
  • HooksLaw

    Miliband won the post code lottery of life.

  • Archimedes

    You almost sound like you want him to win the next election…

  • CraigStrachan

    “In America, presidential candidates make films about serving in Vietnam.”

    Not in this cycle they don’t.

    • Curnonsky

      Although one of them would have happily shouldered an AK-47 with the Viet Cong.

      • CraigStrachan

        Well, only one of the major party nominees was of an age to serve in Vietnam. The same one who demonstrated in favor of the draft, before taking a deferment to go to France to try to persuade the French “to give up wine”. Because that was his priority.

        • Curnonsky

          I expect Obama learned all about the Vietnam War from his close friend and mentor Bill Ayers who was busy bombing the Pentagon and the Capitol at the time.

          • CraigStrachan

            Whereas Romney lived through the period as a draft-age male and drew his own conclusions. To whit – he was in favor of the draft, but didn’t think it should apply to him. Maybe he figured it was a 47 per cent thing?

  • David Lindsay

    It says it all about this country’s ludicrous public school media, both that Miliband finds it worth mentioning that he attended the same sort of school as 97 per cent of his compatriots, and that one of Fleet Street’s finest sees that mentioning as a claim to be a member of the working class, as if this country were still fortunate enough to have one; it is rapidly losing any claim to have a middle-class, either, and for exactly the same reasons.

    • Fergus Pickering

      97% old son. Where do you get that figure? Did you just make it up? I think so.

  • Paul

    If Cameron harped on endlessly about Miliband’s state school and tried to make himself look good by his going to Eton, people would label it “snobbery”; Miliband does the reverse and no-one seems to mind – reverse snobbery and quite pitiful on Miliband’s part.
    Is the electorate really so dismal as to think “Hey Ed, you went to a state secondary school – you get my vote”!?

    • HooksLaw

      As I say elsewhere, Miliband lived in a favourable location for a good school and his schoolmates’ parents made sure they priced all the undesirable elements out of the catchment area.
      Poor Balls had to rely on his dad to pay fees to get to a decent school. A bit like poor Harriet.

    • Amergin Selby

      Edward Heath made great play about being a Grammar school boy and
      Thatcher was proud of her being the daughter of a simple grocer from
      Grantham. Is this different or had you forgotten?

      • IRISHBOY

        It is manifestly different, for goodness sake man engage your brain! I repeat, the socialist elite take privileges for themselves which they not only deny others, but heap their sickly moral opprobrium on those who do chose to pay for their children’s education and if questioned about this, one of many, hypocrisy always trot out the “I’m not playing politics with my children’s education” line. Always happy to play politics with others’ children of course. Is the obvious so hard to see?

      • Paul

        Heath and Thatcher were advocating social mobility based on their hard work; Miliband is simply saying “I went to a state school, and I was nice”, strange he never mentions living in Primrose Hill.


    Did the video contain the methods used by his father to avoid paying inheritance taxes so his boy could have a lovely house in Islington from UNEARNED INCOME? And now that this sin of sins among socialists has been pointed out, will Ed be paying H M Treasury an appropriate amount in compensation? Would anyone from this magazine like to write to Ed about this, pointing out that if he would prefer to keep his private life private, then could he kindly stay the f*** out of my private life?!?!

    • Amergin Selby


      Edward Lascelles, 1st Earl of Harewood made the Lascelles fortune through sugar and the slave trade should the current Earl of Harewood compensate the ancestors of those earlier slaves. Of course not and the same holds for Milliband.

      • IRISHBOY

        You miss the point. I’m no fan of slavery or the wealth gained on the back of it, but the Harewoods aren’t telling anyone to make reparations whilst not making any themselves, whilst present day socialists are forever telling us, nay legislating, what we can and cannot do but, with no embarrassment to their holier-than-thou sensitivities, live their lives avoiding the strictures they place on others, gaining from tax avoidance and unearned wealth in this case, but I’m sure we can all make a list of the other benefits, freedoms and exemptions they accrue for themselves but deny the people.
        Your post seems to suggest that you do think that a case for Ed to answer exists . . . . .

  • Coffeehousewall

    This sounds just the same as a Hitler-philiac post would. Mr Hitler is really warm, charming, good company, completely untribal and he loves dogs.

    The fact is that he is complicit in the destruction of Britain, and rather than point this out, (and the fact that his father is a Marxist and his grandfather fought with the Red Army to destroy Poland is rather telling), we are only told how much we would enjoy his company if only we were, as Fraser Nelson is, a member of the very select group of Westminister journalists who get invited to the best BBQs.

    Sorry I don’t believe it. You mistake certain social skills for virtue. Socialism is evil, and those who support it are corrupt and wicked. They might be excellent hosts, but what really matters is what is completely missing from this post.

    • Curnonsky

      Exactly – imagine how dangerous he would be if he combined Hitler’s personal charm with his public speaking skills. It is a rare politician who rises to the top without being able to butter up impressionable journalists – apparently even Stalin could turn on a winning smile when necessary. Poor old Gordon Brown, he couldn’t even manage that.

    • HooksLaw

      Again you seem a little at a loss with history.
      Miliband’s grandfather, Samuel, allegedly fought for the Red Army in the Polish–Soviet War of 1919–1921 (a conflict which followed on from the Polish Ukraine War). This conflict clearly did not destroy Poland since it resulted in a Polish victory. Indeed it put an end to soviet ideas of international revolution.

      S. Miliband in fact moved to Belgium in about 1921/22. He was there when Stalin occupied eastern Poland. His son Ralf was a thick marxist, and his grandchildren thick and gullible socialists; there is no need to invent insults.

    • Dimoto

      You don’t have to worry, Boris (Telegraph column today), has put Miliminor firmly in his place (as the pampered, privileged, talentless chap that he is).

  • Edward Mayes

    A pub crawl with Ed Miliband would be not as epic as a pub crawl with Boris Johnson one would imagine.

  • HiFlite

    I’m so excited waiting for the video. I don’t think I’ll be able to sleep tonight.

    • dgstuart

      :-) I know- it’s like the feeling on Christmas eve waiting for Santa.

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