Ed Miliband is often cited as being weak, but those who do so; fear his strong convictions against a backdrop of consensus politics.
Politicians need to appeal to people, not just to get elected, but to create an identity that people can trust.
Getting a message across needs a mixture of style and substance, which means either good communication, or having something to transmit.
Or a bit of both.
Ed Miliband has been continuously labelled as weak, because of his supposedly dull character and social awkwardness that fails to ignite political passion.
His aesthetics are not complementary to a modern political age, and he is presented as someone without the necessary steel to lead the country as a result.
But if he is weak, then it’s only a certain kind of weak, in terms of image and perception.
Even Ed admits it, if the Sun is to be believed.
I’m weak, admits Ed Miliband in leaked general election doc: http://t.co/HJdghCczDb
— Sun Politics (@Sun_Politics) June 23, 2014
He has admitted he is weak in terms of image and presentation, here.
But he isn’t weak politically as some have argued. In our political era, dominated by an airbrushed Blairite political class, we should welcome conviction politics over image politics.
Whatever your views of Ed’s aesthetics or charismatic talent, it is clear that he’s politically ruthless. Some despise him for that.
Upon ruthlessly defeating his Blairite brother; this supposedly weak politician stood up to Rupert Murdoch, then the Unions, then Cameron over Syria and now finally Gaza. He has announced plans to stand up to energy companies too.
In 2011, he said this, as quoted in The Guardian:
Ed piled on the pressure, calling for Rebekah Brooks to go. He called on Rupert Murdoch to face MPs for a judge led public inquiry, and he scuppered the BSKYB Bid by News Corp, which was eventually withdrawn.
In addition to taking on his Blairite Brother, he has taken on another Blairite.
The Prime Minister, David Cameron:
He stood up to Cameron’s accusations about Union influence, and in doing so, he has also been one of the only Labour leaders to actually address the issue.
At the meeting in London surrounding the Union issue he wanted to “open up our policy-making, clean up the lobbying industry and take the big money out of politics. We want to let people back in.”
This is not being weak. This is dealing with internal and structural political problems head on. It takes guts. More than anything, it is taking on the people that elected him, supposedly; which shows, once again, political ruthlessness.
I think not.
And on Syria? He spearheaded the argument which prevented Cameron from arming the rebels.
Syria caused his popularity to go UP, because in spite of the vile criticism of aesthetics, he is standing for things people identify with. He is speaking up for a popular opinion. It’s not a beauty contest.
Damn it, Ed even went the whole nine yards and called for Iran to be invited to the negotiating table.
If ever a politician could NOT be seen as weak or dithering, it is to call for Iran.
And on Gaza, he was also largely praised.
He has been consistently the figure levelling criticism of David Cameron’s silence.
For some internal members, this has made the situation uncomfortable, because sometimes Politics gets in the way. Sometimes when people speak their mind, they lose support, because they actually stand for something.
— Sadiq Khan MP (@SadiqKhan) August 5, 2014
Great majority of Labour MPs will back Ed Miliband on the disproportionate use of force by Israel in Gaza including many friends of Israel.
— Paul Flynn (@PaulFlynnMP) August 7, 2014
Labour leader Ed Miliband speaks out against carnage in Gaza, says PM Cameron has failed http://t.co/s9Q8CPYqMa
— Murtaza Ali Shah (@MurtazaGeoNews) August 6, 2014
Infact Labour’s supposedly weak leader was so dominant on Syria, The Guardian have even argued this led to a ‘character assassination’ by the Tories.
Weak, funny looking and speech impediment ridden, Marxist, Jewish, bacon eating, Wallace lookalike, needed a ‘character assassination’?
It begs the question, in what regard is he weak, and why would he need a character assassination if he was weak?
Even upon a consistent personal assault or character assassination, Ed has admitted that he is not going to win the battle of image which has been committed against him.
More importantly, he doesn’t want to.
He wants to win the battle of politics.
But rest assured, the news that dominates is that of image and character.
Ed Miliband branded ‘pathetic, bland and catastrophic’ by Labour grassroots http://t.co/fGQ7RWb271
— HuffPost UK (@HuffPostUK) August 11, 2014
Some MPs are even willing to bail over Ed. Trying to save their own skins. They do this, because in today’s world; looking right and sounding right, is much more important than being right.
There are still politicians willing to stand up for another politician if they are doing the right thing though, even if it means a loss of support from some.
He took on his brother, Murdoch, Unions, Cameron, Blair, and the Gaza Crisis.
But all he receives is analysis about his appearance and style, and accusations of weakness.
This poses a much more sinister questions about the symptoms of a failing political system, dominated by the media and by shallow image; over substantial policy on the one hand.
On the other hand, it also suggests that what is needed is a concerted attempt at re-politicising politics
Many reject Cameron’s airbrushed media style politics, as out of touch and insincere, but at the same time, there is criticism for Miliband for being the antithesis of just that.
He is sincere and inherently political, and he wants to change politics from politics, not from image.
So let’s back him.