The Sketch: Miliband would rather be dead than Red Ed

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The Independent Online

But is he for the strikes or against them? The workers have great grievances. Is that a Yes? No. Then is it a No? What was the question again? Is he for the strikes? Let us admit to an operationally negative tendency which may traverse the argument spectrum by Wednesday.

On that happy day there'll be a million Labour voters on the streets looking for a national voice. Will Ed at his wither-wringing best plead the cause of primary school teachers? Or will he calculate he'd rather be dead than Red Ed?

It's a defining moment but at his big speech, he wasn't what you call definite. He lacked what you call definition... Both sides were at fault. Each had to give ground. "A strike is always a failure."

That may not go over as well as he hopes, facing a million of them in Hyde Park. He strides to the microphone, opens his arms in that Freddy Krueger way, puts on his alien's face and directs his furious, glaring eyes at them and shrieks: "FAILURES!" It's not what they want to hear.

What was disgraceful was – obviously – David Cameron. The out-of-touch, complacently-risky leader of the same old Tories. "I honestly say to you," Ed Miliband said with a wriggle of sincerity, "your plan isn't working." That's true. The Prime Minister has said as much. "I never thought I'd hear a government saying 'There's nothing we can do'." But that's not quite as true, is it? They're doing all sorts and nothing's working. When they do kick in the extra £20bn stimulus, that won't work either. Ed more or less admitted it.

It was in response to a question I asked. Normally I don't interfere but it has been bothering me, and here he was, a sometime-economic adviser to the Treasury.

That £20bn from Labour's five-point plan – would it produce more than £20bn of activity or less? If more, how much more?

He seemed confident it would help rather than hinder over the years to come. If anyone else is as confident, perhaps they'd put a figure on it for us?

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