It was a very impressive start for the new leader in the hall, a great start actually. He looked at the audience and didn't say anything. It was a moment whereof he couldn't speak. Amid the gabbing and yakkery of conference discourse it was exceptional.
He was taking us all in, with his large dark eyes. The moment was full of potential, gathering weight with every microsecond.
Then he spoke, oh, what a schoolboy error. It all went downhill from there. In silence he is superb. When he speaks we've heard it all before. And not even from him. "I am the change." That's what Gordon Brown claimed at the start of the most disastrous Labour leadership since Michael Foot's. Ed also said he wasn't going to represent the left but the middle ground. That's what Michael Howard said before falling back on to a "core vote" policy.
And the pause itself, to think of it again, that long, inaugural silence – that was pinched from Robert Redford in The Candidate.
Is he up to it? Who knows, it's anyone's guess. The new leader gets plugged in to the socket and they throw the switch. A surge of power goes through him, the lights dim and the transformation begins.
Maybe he becomes more like himself. Maybe he is lured to the dark side. Maybe a hero is born, with a new superpower.
Invisibility, perhaps, that's always useful. Turning yourself into jelly may come in handy too.
Ed'll need something. What with the coagulating Brownites, a rump of angry Blairites and a brother whose career he has, with great determination and quite a bit of duplicity, destroyed. He keeps saying: "I love my brother very much" (and sometimes "very, very much") so it's obviously troubling him.
His first firm statement on Andrew Marr yesterday was to stand by Alastair Darling's plan for the deficit – something Ed Balls has repudiated. He can't make Ed Balls Shadow Chancellor, then. But you'd need a special super power to stand between Ed and the job he's always wanted. Mind you, Mr Balls couldn't complain if Mrs Balls got it instead.
The new leader also has a disturbing habit of asking himself questions. Why did the unions vote for me in such numbers? Why is it important to take more from the banks? It's his way of turning a monologue into a dialogue.
And is he going left? No, he wants to claim the centre ground - but "it depends how you define the centre ground". Some people can laugh, but frankly we've heard that sort of thing so often in the last decade its freshness has gone.
He really is much better when he's not speaking.Reuse content