Ed Miliband is up against a sense of entitlement

Labour has no ideology to offer disaffected voters. Plus, the England football team also fail to inspire, and the case for censorship

Related Topics

And how – to use a formulation much favoured by the Crossbencher column on the old-style Sunday Express – is Mr Ed Miliband this bright Easter morn? What thoughts swirl through his head as, well wrapped up against the unseasonable Arctic temperatures, he wanders through the early spring verdure?

At a guess, disagreeable ones. On the plus side, the Labour Party is riding high in the opinion polls, if only by default, while the closest thing to a political rival that Mr Miliband possesses – his brother – has announced his intention of upping sticks and high-tailing it to the Land of the Free. On the down side, Mr Miliband has had last week to digest the ominous news that even at a time of economic stagnation and Osborne-induced blight, a majority of the public still thinks him less fiscally competent than his opponents on the government front bench.

In fact it is worse than this, and Mr Miliband's room for manoeuvre about as limited as that of an elephant in a saloon bar. He can't win any ideological battles for the simple reason that there are none: an incoming Labour government will only be able to preside over a more emollient version of what already exists, and he knows it. The newly constituted People's Assembly, of which my colleague Owen Jones has written so vigorously, will be no help at all as its animating force is a coalition of trade unions, of whose existence no modern Labour leader likes to be reminded and whose capacity for frightening a nervous electorate should never be underestimated.

And then there are those voters. What do they want? Here, theoretically, Mr Miliband's task ought to be a whole lot easier, for there must be several million ground-down, cash-strapped, ever-striving lower-middle-class people in this country for whom a party at least notionally bent on fairer shares and the redistribution of resources ought to be a natural home, but who will persist in voting Conservative and Liberal Democrat and believing everything that the Daily Mail tells them. And so Mr Miliband's job is to detach them from their ancestral redoubt while allowing them to preserve their sense of entitlement and class solidarity. It is not so much a matter of politics but one of psychology. Needless to say, it will be incredibly difficult to bring off, but I wish Mr Miliband well.


It was at about the halfway stage of Tuesday's World Cup qualifier against Montenegro that I realised I was feeling thoroughly unpatriotic and, shocking as it is to admit this, wanted England to lose, which, when it came to it, they very nearly did. Why was this? Some of it was simple annoyance brought about by one of the most regular sights in sports broadcasting – the talking up of a mediocre side's chances by pundits who should know better. A little more of it was brought on by a faint suspicion, particularly as the game went on, that certain of those present were less than enthused by the prospect of representing their national side and would have preferred to be elsewhere.

Much of this disillusionment, though, was to do with straightforward distaste at some of the personalities on display. Watching the England players at work, it is impossible not to find an alternative commentary playing in your head, which goes something like: the man who narrowly evaded an assault charge has just passed it to the man who declared himself professionally slighted by the offer of £55,000 a week while the serial love-rat lurks somewhere by the halfway line.

Premiership footballers very often maintain that they never aspire to be role models and should not be treated as such. On the other hand, professional sportsmen will always reside in this category, whether they like it or not, by virtue of their distinction, and they might as well get used to it. As someone whose first coherent memory is of the 1966 World Cup Final, it was a very bad moment when I came upon an early 1990s press report revealing that Bobby Moore had been taken ill while editing the sports pages of one of David Sullivan's Sunday morning torso-fests. No doubt livings have to be earned, but to these eyes it was the moral equivalent of robbing a poor box.


As the debate about children's exposure to online pornography continues to rage, the Conservative MP Claire Perry has taken the opportunity of stating the case for censorship. Naturally this has gone down badly in liberal circles: "rooted in the wrong attitude" as one commentator put it, which begs the question: what exactly is the right attitude to 10-year-olds accessing Miss Ezi-Overflow and her services? But in the wider cultural context, of course, Ms Perry has a point.

The great advantage of literary censorship, of course, is that it encourages writers to up their game, to find ingenious, and sometimes aesthetically innovative, ways of evading the proscriptions forced upon them. Anthony Powell's pre-Lady Chatterley trial sex scenes, done mostly via oblique dialogue with occasional references to garments shed in the process, are some of the funniest things he ever wrote.

Call me a reactionary, but the institution of a British Literary Censorship Department, such as the Republic of Ireland used to have, bent on rooting out smut and gratuitousness, would transform the state of English Literature overnight.

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Manager

£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity to...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Manager - Production

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: Trainee Managers are required to join the UK's...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Manager

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: You will maximise the effective...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + uncapped commission : SThree: Hello! I know most ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
A picture posted by Lubitz to Facebook in February 2013  

Andreas Lubitz: Knee-jerk reaction to 9/11 enabled mass murder

Simon Calder
The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev Justin Welby, presides at the reinterment of Richard III yesterday  

Richard III: We Leicester folk have one question: how much did it all cost?

Sean O’Grady
The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss
Tony Blair joins a strange and exclusive club of political leaders whose careers have been blighted by the Middle East

Blair has joined a strange and exclusive club

A new tomb has just gone up in the Middle East's graveyard of US and British political reputations, says Patrick Cockburn