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The lowlights of Ed Miliband’s ‘extraordinary’ Marr interview

22 September 2013

In the words of Andrew Marr, that was an extraordinary interview. Ed Miliband kicked off Labour’s conference today with an interview one can only assume was meant to show his personal side. Instead, I imagine it will reinforce the perception he is a tad weird.

In the absence of offering much detail on the policy front, Miliband obfuscated questions around general ideas. His big announcement was on Labour’s plan for immigration:

‘In our first year in office we will legislate for an immigration bill which has secure control of our borders, cracks down on exploitation of workers coming here undercutting workers already here and says to big companies brining people from outside the EU that they can do within a cap, but they’ve got to train the next generation, I think that’s the right approach’

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‘Think that’s the right approach’? He returned to safer territory on minimum wage, yet he failed to offer an actual plan beyond wanting it to rise:

‘I want to see the minimum wage go up over time, I want to see the minimum wage go up over time but if I was going to come on this programme and saying I’m just going to pluck out of the air a figure of how much the minimum wage would go up by you’d say ‘is that really responsible?’. We’re

Of course, Damian McBride came up. Miliband was keen to make sure everyone knows he always suspected he was a bad ‘un:

‘I went to the Leveson Inquiry and was asked about this and I said that it’s matter of public record, I was concerned about the activities of Damian McBride and, indeed, I complained to Gordon Brown about it’

And on the Sunday Times‘ story about the black hole in Labour’s spending plans, he did little to clear up the notion they haven’t got a robust plan:

‘Let me first deal with the nonsense story that you mentioned. Let me be clear, we’ve said in 2015-16 that Labour won’t be borrowing more for day-to-day spending, we’ve been absolutely clear about that’

Note the qualification ‘day to day spending’ — leaving open the prospect that Labour will borrow massively, as Brown did, for what it categorises as ‘investment’.

Aside from the content, Miliband’s performance was rather bizarre. We’re all used to his nasally twang but as Benedict Brogan describes in his morning briefing, he was speaking lower than usual and didn’t look very comfortable.

By avoiding Marr’s questions, he didn’t offer anything much new and he certainly didn’t come across as confident and assured. Not an assured start to Labour’s conference. It wasn’t, as James suggests, the big moment Miliband needed.

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Show comments
  • stag

    I wish they would stop being ‘absolutely clear’ about everything, it’s extremely confusing.

  • V Hale

    My favourite bit was Miliband criticising “train companies taking people for a ride”.

  • John McEvoy

    Mangled vowels, glo’all stops – yuk.

    • EwanUzarmi

      He fakes them!

  • Greenslime

    As Mr Moribund and his happy band of merry acolytes would say, “We have been very clear on this. Our policy is to eschew obfuscation and advocate cognisability. We aim to do this by wearing you down by not saying anything and perfecting the art of pontification.”

    As Mrs Balls monotonously says, “Can I say, we have been quite clear on this. Our policy has been very clear. But don’t ask me for details otherwise I will blush, my neck will go bright red and I will then have to tell you what a bad lot the Tories are!”

    Chuka Obama has been busy too. He doesn’t like personality politics when the target is him. But he is quite happy to get stuck in when he is the assailant. It is worth reading the twaddle he came up with in the Sunday Times today just to understand what the definition of ‘brass-kneck’ might be.

    What they (Liebour) say, very quietly and unclearly, is that it is very clear that what they plan to do is to spend more of everyone’s money again.

    Loadsamoney! Ooops, where’s it all gone? Best get the Tories back in to sort it out again for us!

    This lot are such a steaming load of useless chancers!

  • Tim Reed

    Miliband, trying to appear disgusted at the smears and character assassinations of McBride : “I was concerned about the activities of Damian McBride and, indeed, I complained to Gordon Brown about it”.

    …yet in other venues he has claimed absolutely NO knowledge of McPoison’s nasty deeds in an attempt to distance himself completely from New Labour’s repulsive past.

    It can’t be both, Ed. You either knew, or where unaware.
    Are you capable of honesty?

  • Smithersjones2013

    If you can imagine a cross between ‘Harry Potter’ and ‘Eraserhead’ then you are probably close to envisaging what is going on in Miliband’s Labour Party.

  • Daniel Maris

    The problem for Labour as well is that it is nigh on impossible for the son of immigrants (whose lives were literally saved by the act of emigration) to sound sceptical about the joys of immigration.

    • sarahsmith232

      Michael Howard managed it

      • Daniel Maris

        I said nigh on impossible. Howard was constantly asked about his own family’s background of immigration.

        I am not arguing that’s how things should, be – I am just saying it makes it difficult, on a personal emotional level and in terms of intellectual argument.

        • sarahsmith232

          Jews views on immigration and it’s effects should be a spanner in the works for the Left, they love to stick people into easy to understand, dead simple, black and white categories when it comes to immigration. those that are for it – of a higher order, sweetness and light people, extraordinarily lovely human beings. those that are against it – mentally retarded, has no more highly evolved understanding of non-whites than an animal and guilty of persistent Daily Mail reading (this they see as due to our being a dumb animal with a mental retardation).
          that’s really very easy for them, they can then use these simple cartoon social types to define themselves against. they tend to be members of a high earning Mid-Class elite so there’s never any danger of them actually having any contact with the people they hate and are using to understand themselves superior to. but occasionally reality must even manage to penetrate their world. when the minorities hold the same views as we white, DM reading dumb animals reality must distort for them. they’ve learnt how to ignore it though.

        • sarahsmith232

          well, I did leave a reply but some weakling has deleted it

        • sarahsmith232

          so it’s onto 4 posts being deleted now, let’s see if they’ll even allow this

      • Kennybhoy

        And how many extra votes did it get him…?

        • sarahsmith232

          Blair got only 35% of the vote in 2005, in 2010 Cameron got 36% but no overall majority. the Left has refused to allow the constituency boundaries to be altered so as to reflect the dramatic demographic change that’s took place over the last 20yrs. it favours them so they’re keeping it that way. it’s the reason why the Tories need 40% next time but Labour can get back in with only 35%.
          Blair didn’t actually win that election, he just refused to allow the country to be fully democratic, that election was free but it wasn’t fair. we’re no longer living in a democracy and nobody seems to care or be even that aware of it.

        • sarahsmith232

          some limp wrist has deleted my reply.

        • sarahsmith232

          same as above, they keep being deleted

  • Austin Barry

    Why doesn’t someone put to any of our political leaders this question:

    “Today in Pakistan a church was bombed, we know what’s happening to Christians in Syria and Egypt. We have Islamists causing murderous mayhem in Kenya. A litany of Islamic terrorist outrages has occurred and continues to occur across the globe. Domestically, in addition to 7/7, we have Woolwich, child grooming, honour killings, FGM and the whole veil debate.

    Do you therefore consider that further Islamic immigration is a benefit or a detriment to this country? And please avoid the phrases, ‘Religion of Peace’, ‘a small minority’ and ‘misunderstanding of Islam’.”

    Chances of the question being put?


    • Colonel Mustard

      Because we live in a country gripped by mass delusion thanks to 45 years of soviet socialist propaganda, bribery, gerrymandering, subversion, politically motivated immigration policies and the “chilling” effect of socialist motivated ideologically coercive and repressive legislation.

      It makes me laugh to see the “moderate” right treat the left as the “gentlemanly opposition” when the Fabian left are engaged in a ruthless war of destruction and the creation of a single party state.

      • saffrin

        when the Fabian left are engaged in a ruthless war of destruction and the creation of a single party state.
        Which they appear to have achieved in LibLabCon.

      • sarahsmith232

        spot on Mustard dear. it makes my blood boil that Labour can openly crow about the fact that they have worked out that there are now 168 constituencies where the ethnic vote ‘will decide’ the outcome and are aggressively going after them. in the 90s they openly talked about how Tower Hamlet’s whites were unable to get council homes + this was perfectly fine by them ’cause ‘they are all racists and they vote Tory’ (this is in the book ‘The New East End’). but will still froth and foam about the Shirley Porter gerrymandering in the 80s, which for the most part consisted of her spending more on street cleaning in pre-dominantly Tory voting Westminster streets. they knowingly and intentionally cleanse our cities of whites (Vaz never ceases boasting about his part in the cleansing of Leicester) then openly crow about using their new millions strong voting base to remain in power.
        most dictators must be looking on in awe, wondering how exactly they’re managing to pull all of this off.
        enjoy the rest of your weekend dear.

        • Russell

          Vaz won’t be happy until the UK resembles Yemen.

    • Daniel Maris

      Yep, nil. But the question is asked in people’s hearts and Labour’s highlighting of its stance on immigration at least shows some (low wattage) light bulb had gone on in the collective cranium of the Labour Party.

    • FrenchNewsonlin

      Nil exactly and perhaps one reason why this little piece of leftie social engineering needs a closer look (Google “ECTR European Council on Tolerance and Reconciliation”): ‘A European Framework National Statute for the Promotion of Tolerance – Submitted with a view to being enacted by the legislatures of European states’.

    • Alexsandr

      Also can some ask what the benefits of islam are to the UK. We are supposed to be benefting from multiculturism. What are these benefits?

    • Daniel Maris

      Has the Archbishop issued a ringing condemnation of the evil ideology that leads people to commit such outrages against infants and innocents? Who is the Archbishop? – does anyone remember?? He seems to get very exercised about the economy I think…

    • Daniel Maris

      I’ve just seen that statement from Cameron – it’s outrageous. He claims authority to speak on Islam and the terrorists in Kenya! Who appointed him Caliph? He states categorically that these attacks have nothing to do with (a) Islam or (b) religion, despite all the evidence.

      Is he really claiming that the perpetrators’ actions have not been blessed by any Imams in Somalia and elsewhere? Is he really claiming that the people killed were not targeted as being non-Muslims?

      Isn’t it strange that he – the British PM – feels the need to instruct us on this point as a top priority rather than letting us making up our own minds.

      The truth is that the attacks in Kenya on innocent shoppers and on Churchgoers in Pakistan bring into stark relief the nature of the threat.

    • Daniel Maris

      Just seen this stinging denunciation from Robert Spencer of Cameron’s appeasing comments:

      “How does Cameron know this? Has he studied Islam? Read the Qur’an? Has
      he considered the implications of the verses that call on Muslims to
      kill the polytheists wherever they find them (2:191, 4:89 and 9:5)? Has
      he asked Islamic authorities about the status of non-Muslims in Islamic
      law, and whether they can ever be considered innocent? No, it is
      unlikely that he has done any of these things. He just thinks that the
      Kenyan jihadists don’t represent Islam or Muslims because he really,
      really wants that to be true, and indeed, in light of his domestic
      policies, he needs it to be true, or else he will be one of those responsible for the destruction and demise of Great Britain.”

  • CharlietheChump

    Good start

  • Hello

    He’s too late. He should have been setting out the general ideas three/four years before an election, and starting to develop them into solid policies around now. If you want to win an election then your leadership has to tell an exciting and coherent story — it has to develop. It’s always back to general ideas with Miliband, repositioning because he got the politics and the footing wrong the first time around. It makes the story incoherent, which betrays the fact that he is not in control of his own plot. That matters because voters implicitly understand that if you cannot tell your own story, then you cannot run a country.

  • rtj1211

    It’s very interesting that ‘One Nation Labour’ miraculously has immigration top of the agenda just as UKIP are starting to threaten their base.

    if they had principles about this, they’d have done something during 13 years of Labour rule. Yeah right……

    The principle sounds fine: what I’d like to know is which Labour HOme Secretary will evict a hard-working immigrant because their employer has conveniently forgotten to train someone up as the quid pro quo. Can just see the right wing Press twisting the knife there……..

    I don’t believe one word of the Labour Party’s statements on immigration. Not one word. They opened their legs for a decade and now suddenly they’re a chaste nun??


    • Austin Barry

      “..on immigration…they opened their legs for a decade…”

      Unhappily, they opened our legs without consent, or rape as it’s called.

    • McClane

      When Labour, LibDems and Conservatives talk about reducing immigration they are talking about non-EU immigration. Only UKIP talk about reducing EU immigration, which is what people are worried about most.

      • sarahsmith232

        yeah right, take a look at London and tell me the issue is with white, Christian European immigration.

        • McClane

          It’s September. The Romanians and Bulgarians arrive in a few weeks’ time. That’s the issue with white, Christian European immigration. Labour, LibDems and Conservatives have done nothing about that.

          You want a discussion about Somali asylum-seekers? Fine. Indian & Pakistani girls being sent back for forced marriages so they can bring back a husband visa-free? No problem. I disagree with that as well.

          White Christians from Canada? From Australia? Forget about them. No discussion going on about that.

          • Alexsandr

            and over 7% of bulgarians are muslim.

            • McClane

              7.8% of 7.3 million. 570,000. Hardly a lot. It’s the Roma that are the problem. But they’re already here.

              • Alexsandr

                and many of the Roma are muslim.
                But I was trying to say that immigration from the EU is not all Christian.

  • Russell

    Policies? what Policies?
    The weird man with an ugly mouth and a terrible tone to his voice says :-

    Labour will ‘look at’ minimum wage!!
    Primary school children will be looked after from 8am to 6 pm at school with meals provided, at no cost!!
    Labour says they will scrap the spare room subsidy, but only for welfare dependent people living in council houses and pay for it by ‘looking at’ tax loopholes!!

    The labour party and Miliband and his bunch of incompetent, lying, scheming, spinning, colleagues full of hate, and self interest really are the Scum party, and people should be made aware of all their shortcomings

    • dalai guevara

      A good analysis from you again, Russell.
      The choice in a two party one party state is the choice between not being Italy and never being Germany.

    • sarahsmith232

      saw Chukka Umunna interviewed this morning on the childcare thing, they haven’t said ‘for free’ they said the parents would have to pay for it. so where’s the difference? pay for it out of your own pocket in a nursery or pay for it out of your own pocket in a school, is there any difference? i’m guessing there’s something they’re going to try to bribe the voter with on this one but whatever it is it’s not free childcare.
      loved his ‘we will strengthen the minimum wage’, so when pressed about whether that means increase it and it’s no, just ‘we’ll occasionally take a BBC crew with us doing a few raids on some East London kebab shops paying pennies to illegals, then everyone will forget about our election pledge so we’ll quietly drop it’.
      love what passes for aggressive immigration policy – for every one graduate Indian I.T worker allowed in they’ll ‘force’ the company to create an apprenticeship for Brits. so how’s that going to work, what an equiv’ 3yr degree level apprenticeship? or some 3 to 6wk entry level I.T course in how to download an App? God save us from them

    • David Lindsay

      Who cares? All that he has to do is beat the present lot. And that after yet another year of half of them. Easy.

      • Fergus Pickering

        Ah! He beats them and then he does what you tell him to. What are you going to tell him? You have to tell the clueless oik something.

        • David Lindsay

          Well, if he called me (and the party certainly has my mobile phone number), then I’d have no shortage of suggestions for him. I’d better go and recharge it.

          • Russell

            Why would an idiot ask another idiot for advice?

          • HJ777

            Miliband is daft, but not daft enough to ask for your advice.

            Give the man some credit.

            • Nicholas chuzzlewit

              Possibly, although he might just be that stupid……..No you are right, nobody could be that daft.

          • Nicholas chuzzlewit

            Why would anybody consult an insignificant nobody like you about anything?

      • Russell

        I’ll tell you who cares……the large majority of the electorate that don’t vote Labour, and care about this country above self interest like all the troughers liars and deceitful politicians at Westminster.

        • David Lindsay

          The large majority of the electorate never votes for any one party in particular. That’s not how it works.

          • Russell

            You asked who cares…..I told you!

    • Gareth

      What a pathetically partisan comment! You’re entitled to your views on Miliband, but when you’re resorting to comments on his “ugly mouth”, don’t kid yourself that you’re adding anything to the political debate.

      • Russell

        What a poor sensitive soul you are. Defend Miliband if you must, about any and every observation made by others. As it happens, I think Cameron too has an ugly mouth, and Farage (And I am a paid up member of UKIP). There, now you have a more balanced presentation than the BBC deliver.

        • Gareth

          I want to think carefully about the policies and approaches advocated on each issue. I lend or withhold my support based on to the strength of the argument. I think our country needs this sort of considered view.

          Too many people (not least on these forums) treat political debate as nothing more than a pantomime where they enjoy cheering and booing at the right moments. I hope they enjoy letting off steam, because they add nothing of value.

  • HookesLaw

    An immigration bill – how does he actually plan to make this work? More propaganda soundbites. More labour pre election lies.

    • telemachus

      If you have no answers to the Party Messages attack the Personalities


      The highlight so far has been Diane Abbott at the Staggers shindig

      Power and accountability

      “I strongly believe that in future, those who occupy senior positions in the public sector must be required to account for any failure , without doubt or ambiguity about who is responsible at every level .

      Time and again it was dispiriting to listen to the “buck passing”
      from those who attempt to justify their positions… I hope those in
      leadership will examine their responsibilities before looking more
      Clegg et al heed

      • Colonel Mustard

        “Party Messages” – you know all about those as you peddle them here with promiscuous incontinence.

        Sounds like Burnham should “heed” too. He has a few questions to answer about Mid-Staffs and by rights they should be under a police caution.

        • telemachus

          ‘It makes me laugh to see the “moderate” right treat the left as the “gentlemanly opposition” when the Fabian left are engaged in a ruthless war of destruction and the creation of a single party state.’

          Like most Duvalierites, I guess you prefer the UKIP Assault and Battery methods

          Rachel, the delicious is about to speak

          • Colonel Mustard

            Another day another label. And more evidence of your sneaky lurking and stalking. When one reviews the Collective Comments of Chairman Tele they really are rather repulsive and the feeling of nausea difficult to overcome.

            Clearly you can’t read the comments properly either or you might have understood my stance on the Bloom assault and battery.

            Of course, I should have remembered! You prefer to misquote and mislead, to smear dissenters from your coercive and far from “reasonable” orthodoxy in the tradition of your party.

            Enjoy Morticia. You should be able to have a nice nap, you weasel.

          • McClane

            Duvalierites? What’s Haiti got to do with this?

            Call Col. Mustard Poujadiste. Add that to your repertoire of labels.

            • Colonel Mustard

              What has France got to do with it for that matter? Don’t encourage the little weasel.

      • fubar_saunders

        Pity it’ll never happen. Never happened under Labour before, it’ll never happen under Labour in the future. Its just meaningless, empty, populist, pander to the plebs bollocks.

  • Abhay

    British politics is gridlocked in way. The current crop of leaders from all the 3 parties are in the mythical ‘centre-ground’ which essentially means you cannot take an honest ideological stance on any big issue of the day. The best you can do is waffle and the worst, mislead. Ed M is no exception.

    • Dogsnob

      It will stay this way until just before The War, at which point, the Westminster set will fwark orf to gentler climes.

      • HookesLaw

        A dogs breakfast of a comment – if ‘comment’ is not too grand a word.

        • Dogsnob

          Awful innit? And by the way, is there anything else happening in the World besides these – what do they call them – ‘conferences’?
          One would think that events in Pakistan and Kenya might merit at least one mention from Specciedom?
          Religion of Peace and all that.

          • HookesLaw

            Ah – get dem muslamics in somehow eh?
            Its conference season. Get over it.

            • Colonel Mustard

              I think they got themselves in Hookey.

            • Dogsnob

              You are right of course Hookey, we shouldn’t let a little ethnic cleansing and mass killing get in the way of proceedings of such magnitude.

  • DavidL

    I think Dan Hodges has it right. People have already made their minds up about Ed. And it’s not looking good for him, or Labour.

    • George_Arseborne

      Just you and Dan Hodges belong to such category. Give him all the negative press write ups, he is a man of himself and will command Labour Troops into Downing Street in 2015.

      • coalitionkid

        With a parliamentary majority?

      • Alexsandr

        I am not by a window so I cant see the flying pigs.

      • Colonel Mustard

        I’m glad you recognise the Labour Party’s para-military instincts and their parallels to a certain European party of the 1930s. Do you think the Brownshirts will carry the new Leader into No.10 shoulder high or stay quietly in the background preparing for the single party state?

      • Fergus Pickering

        He is a man of himself? What does that mean, Arsebone?

    • Ben Kelly

      He’s still going to get in, despite everything.

      • Fergus Pickering

        Would you care to put your money where your mouth is on that one?

        • Ben Kelly

          I probably would mate, tribunals vote Labour.

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