Is Ed Miliband hungry enough for power? That's the real test - as his brother David knows only too well

To become Prime Minister, it's not even good enough to say and do the right things. As Tony Blair proved, you have to brim with energy and determination

Related Topics

Ed Miliband is not short of advice as he prepares to deliver his leader’s speech. And not all of it comes from the newspapers and commentators he professes not to read. Kick out the Blairites and return the party to the working classes. Have a public row with Len McCluskey and reassure middle Britain. Cut the waffle and come up with some concrete policies the public can relate to. Try to look prime ministerial. Speak in a language the voters understand.

Much of the advice is contradictory and clearly none of it very welcome. His patient smile and calm demeanor suggest he has no intention of being pushed this way or that by people who may or may not have his and his party’s best interests at heart.

Yet there is one man he should listen to. A person whose own experience of fighting an election and losing could stop Ed from making the same mistakes. His brother David.

David Miliband has much to offer on policy and his experience and intelligence would add considerable weight to the shadow cabinet. But this is not an appeal for the elder Miliband to come in from the cold. It is merely to suggest that Ed should learn a lesson from why he’s out in the cold in the first place.

David Miliband would be leader today if he had fought a different kind of campaign for the leadership. He behaved as if his popularity in the opinion polls and his strong support among MPs and party members meant he had the election in the bag. There was an air of entitlement about him that alienated enough people to cost him victory. In short he didn’t look hungry enough to win.

Ed didn’t win just because he cosied up to the unions. He and his team did the maths and fought for every vote. For many early doubters about his leadership qualities, that ruthless determination to do whatever it took to succeed offered hope. If he could do that to get the job, perhaps he could do the same to get Labour back in power.

At the half-way stage to the next election, the Ed Miliband we see today seems to have lost that steely resolve. Yes, he has kept steady under fire. He hasn’t let the criticism get to him. He exudes a confidence that suggests he knows just what he’s doing. But he doesn’t look hungry to win.

The voters pick up on mood as much as policy, perhaps more so. His Zen-like self-assurance may have calmed his party, but the debate is no longer about Labour it is about the country. He’s right to believe that the messianic quality of some of Tony Blair’s speeches when he was leader of the opposition wouldn’t work today. The severity of the global economic crisis and the failure of any leader anywhere in the world to come up with a quick-fix solution means the public aren’t looking for a savior.

But Blair’s frenetic activity from 1994-97 not only grabbed headlines. It grabbed the voters’ attention. Here was a man brimming with energy and determination. Every election Blair ever fought he treated as if he were the underdog. When everybody else thought he couldn’t lose he campaigned as if defeat was a real possibility. You could see it in his eyes.

So from this week’s speech onwards Ed Miliband should look, sound and act as if winning is all that matters to him. The electorate won’t hand him the election on a plate. They want to see him work for it day in, day out. He has to show them he cares enough about them to go out and fight for their support.

Ask David. Thinking you deserve to win is not enough to ensure it actually happens.

React Now

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

BI Manager - £50,000

£49000 - £55000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client is...

BI Project Manager - £48,000 - £54,000 - Midlands

£48000 - £54000 per annum + Benefits package: Progressive Recruitment: My clie...

VB.Net Developer

£35000 - £45000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: If you're pa...

SAP Business Consultant (SD, MM and FICO), £55,000, Wakefield

£45000 - £55000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP Business...

Day In a Page

Read Next

The law is too hard on sexting teenagers

Memphis Barker

Obama must speak out – Americans are worried no one is listening to them

David Usborne
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

Take a good look while you can

How climate change could wipe out this seal
Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier for the terminally ill?

Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier?

Some couples are allowed emergency hospital weddings, others are denied the right. Kate Hilpern reports on the growing case for a compassionate cutting of the red tape
Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned

Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster

John Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
The 10 best pedicure products

Feet treat: 10 best pedicure products

Bags packed and all prepped for holidays, but feet in a state? Get them flip-flop-ready with our pick of the items for a DIY treatment
Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for