We’ve seen and heard little from Ed Miliband since his regrettable resignation speech the day after the general election. Even when the contest for his successor heated up, and many senior Labour figures were begging Ed to say something, anything that might avoid Corbyn becoming leader, he remained silent. Given the rigours of the election campaign, not least of which involved having to appear in front of the most mocked slab of stone in history, you could understand a little bit. Until you thought about the fact that he created the electoral system under which the whole thing was happening and thus bore some responsibility for it going the way it did, and that’s before we get onto the very real possibility that had he stuck around for a few months post-election, Labour could have been in a better space to be rational about its choice of present leader.
But then yesterday, Ed decided to do a BBC radio interview with Jim Naughtie in which he decided to open up about how he thinks Labour is going under Corbyn. Pretty swell from the sounds of things.
“I think it has a strength and depth in terms of our membership which we didn’t have before. Jeremy Corbyn has doubled our membership.”
Putting aside the idea of crediting Corbyn with the whole of the uptake in the Labour membership numbers being questionable – depth? Strength, okay but aren’t the members becoming more and more left wing? That a poll released today tells us that 66% of Labour members think Corbyn is doing well tells how politically shallow the new membership intake pool almost certainly is. But beyond that, the fact is that Corbyn really is having a rough time of it at present. Now, you can blame the right wing media, or the PLP, or any number of things, but you cannot say he isn’t having a difficult patch.
So why does Miliband choose this week of all weeks to suddenly come out of the woodwork? Particularly after the leak about his overheard conversation with Graham Stringer regarding how “you didn’t think it could get worse, did you?” To me, the interview and its timing struck the same tone as his resignation speech did – a slightly smug, aren’t I great and don’t you all miss me a little now sort of a message, all wrapped up in bland support for Corbyn that was immediately see-through. What did he hope to achieve with the interview other than reminding everyone of how Labour were not all that long ago a party capable of theoretically winning a general election? That is the sort of question which contains its own answer.