Simon Carr: All Ed really lacks are the qualities that make a good prime minister

Sketch: He needs perhaps just a tad more character, personality, poise, certainty, eloquence, precision, charm, wit, reach, grasp, grace, definition, depth...

Sunday 23 October 2011 02:57

Can we make a prime minister out of the materials presented by Ed Miliband? Failing that, might he be useful for spares? What can we do with him?

Let's not dwell on the negatives. The face. The body. The manner. The suit is good. He wears it well, when stationary.

Also, he has a new gesture that could be useful if they cast the next PM from a Hammer Horror film made before 1965. The arms are lifted wide and the fingers spread out towards the audience. Then his face darkens and he moves his head and torso sharply forward. For a moment you can't hear what he's saying as you're weighing the chances of him biting you.

The trouble is, he seems to have been assembled out of spare parts of other prime ministers. He's not a creature of cuts but offcuts. There's a lot of Cameron's language. Some Attlee. A little Thatcher ("Carry on: I'm enjoying this!" he said at one gently combative stage of the media questioning.) There's more than enough Gordon Brown, for the connoisseur. And Tony Blair, of course. He quoted one of that former PM's five most loathsome quotes: "He wanted a country 'where your child in distress is my child in distress, your parent ill and in pain is my parent . . . your neighbour, my neighbour'." What a confusion of private and public morality – one that if implemented would destroy society utterly.

We were in the world of Labour relaunches (they began six months after Gordon took over and have been appearing ever since). Care and compassion will be increased. The "yearning for a more responsible society" is going to be satisfied by a "national mission". Mainly: If you "give something back" (have a job) you'll be more likely to get a council house.

He referred to the agency problem mentioned by Keynes nearly a century ago (the great evil of businesses being run by people other than the owners). He was going to "encourage change" by publishing the wage differences in big companies – or at least "we should debate this". Vote Labour and we will encourage the need to debate change!

He summed it all up in one blood, tears and sweat line: "We do need society to send a signal that people should do their best if they can." He needs perhaps just a tad* more character, personality, poise, certainty, eloquence, precision, charm, wit, reach, grasp, grace, definition, depth, courage, power, glamour, manner, cunning, ingenuity, humour, generosity, ease, brevity, and popular, profuse, aphoristic intelligence. Then he'd really be something to contend with.* "Tad" is defined here as 11 million times more than existing levels of the resource.

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