Red, Dead and Scarlet: right-wing press struggle to define Ed

The Red Ed myth refuses to die. In spite of Mr Miliband's direct rebuttal of it during his speech yesterday, the right-wing press are not relenting in their attempts - reported by Left Foot Forward earlier this week - to portray Labour's new leader as the puppet of the trade unions.

The Red Ed myth refuses to die. In spite of Mr Miliband’s direct rebuttal of it during his speech yesterday, the right-wing press are not relenting in their attempts – reported by Left Foot Forward earlier this week – to portray Labour’s new leader as the puppet of the trade unions.

The Sun refuses to drop the nickname, and adds a new one to the mix: “Captain Scarlet”. It stresses that Ed’s speech was endorsed by “Red Ken” Livingstone, before directly addressing the issue at hand:

“He tried to laugh off his Red Ed tag – then provided evidence of it as he trotted out pet Leftie causes. All the old chestnuts were there, from a class war on the wealthy to a Palestinian state.”

The Sun appears to be alone in detecting “a class war” in Miliband’s address. For more evidence of Ed’s Redness, the paper was forced to stoop to this bizarre attack on the ordering of the speech’s content:

“But how will putting gender equality before thanking Our Heroes bring him closer to voters?”

This is something no other analysts have picked up on. It comes across as a desperate attempt to stir up jingoistic reactionism.

At the Telegraph, Simon Heffer attempts to rewrite history with his insistence that:

“Miliband E and his supporters in the parliamentary party are aware of how exposed he is because of the mark of the unions upon him, and his lack of support in the old shadow cabinet and scarcity of support in the Commons.”

Ed Miliband won 47% of the MPs and MEPs’ votes, and gained many of David Miliband’s second preferences: support is hardly “scarce” in the Commons.

Rhetoric also gets in the way of reality with Damian Thompson’s Telegraph blog:

“It’s hard to occupy the moral high ground when you’ve been pushed across the finishing line by trade union bosses.”

Although union leaders did endorse certain candidates, the union vote was certainly not decided by those at the top, as the Independent’s Mark Steel amusingly points out.

The Daily Mail are also fond of monosyllabic rhyming slurs to accompany “Ed”, but they have moved on from “Red” to “Dead”. In an article entitled “Red Ed? More like Dead Ed,” Stephen Glover attacks the leader of the opposition for wearing a suit and a tie:

“What depressed me, though it did not particularly surprise, was the generally predictable nature of almost everything else he said. Here was an opportunity, as he laid out his beliefs, to distinguish himself from his defeated Labour rivals and other major politicians. In his statutory suit and purple tie (not ‘red’, he joked), he came across as another well-presented, Identikit leader.”

In fairness to Glover, he went on to make the more perceptive point that Miliband resembled Clegg in substance as well as style, which other commentators have identified as an attempt to woo the Lib Dem leader.

The Daily Mail continues its concern with the anodyne in a headline story about Miliband’s failure to sign his child’s birth certificate. It also claims that “His personal set-up has caused consternation since he became the first major political leader in British history not to be married to the mother of his children.” While Miliband’s marital status may make history, it’s unlikely to make many more headlines, at least outside the Mail.

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