Ed by Mehdi Hasan and James Macintyre

This biographical text of former Labour leader Ed Miliband was put together in haste. In places, it does read as if interview material has been put on the page in a barely processed form. The repetition of certain facts and opinions may irritate the reader. Nonetheless, the book is quite useful for those who want to understand why the Labour Party is in its present predicament.

The current problems of the Labour Party are not the responsibility of Ed Miliband. The difficulties in part flow from class fragmentation and a decline in political partisanship. However, the cliques around Miliband were inept in their responses to the rise of Scottish nationalism and English nationalism. Blue Labour did not articulate a clear enough alternative to the values of the Conservative Party, while Miliband struggled to project a compelling image via a hostile media.

The late Ralph Miliband was a great socialist thinker. His debate with Nicos Poulantzas has been somewhat unfairly constructed as a dialogue of the deaf by the insightful Bob Jessop. While Ed learned a lot from his brilliant father, the media used his background to depict him as Red Ed. Combined with the negative coverage generated by Ed’s defeat of his brother in the Labour leadership election, this caricature haunted his spell at the summit of the party. It can be argued that he failed to:

“apply the same sense of urgency and insurgency that characterised his leadership campaign to the job of party leader.”

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