THE Blairites never wanted Ed Miliband to win the leadership.
Since he unexpectedly did, they have never missed an opportunity to gossip about him from the sidelines. Some, like Dan Hodges — son of Glenda Jackson — regularly spit out their vitriol and bile against Miliband in the in the Tory press.
Others more insidiously give unattributed briefings to the media which Blairite journalists, like Nicholas Watt in the Guardian at the weekend, shamefully repeat without naming the source.
The bitter irony in all this is that Miliband has bent over backwards to placate Progress — the Blairite tendency — in order to maintain party unity.
They gladly swallow all the concessions he makes to them, but that never earns their loyalty.
They always return to bait him at the next available opportunity.
But what is particularly contemptible about the latest bad-mouthing of the leader seized on by the right-wing media in recent days is that they are indulging their prejudices at the expense of seriously damaging the party’s prospects with the general election only 10 months away.
What is so galling about this latest febrile outbreak is that it is based on such trivia and wholly ignores the real underlying stature of Miliband, who is by any standards one of the most underrated leaders in modern times.
He rightly took on Murdoch over his attempted takeover of BSkyB, which was a high-risk call, and triumphed.
David Cameron on the other hand was so much in hock to Murdoch that he did all he could to wave the deal through, and Blair — and, let’s be honest, David Miliband — would certainly have done the same.
Miliband deserves enormous credit for the courage he displayed then, since a Murdoch takeover would have delivered Britain to the kind of Berlusconi-style monopolisation of the media which no democracy should ever contemplate.
Miliband also had the guts to take on the Tory tabloids in support of Leveson’s demand for an honest and accountable press, which his brother or Blair would certainly not have done.
And let’s not forget this — Miliband actually stopped a Western missile strike against Syria, with all the murderous destruction and carnage that yet another US-British Middle Eastern war would have entailed.
Miliband has never been given the enormous credit we owe him for that act of defining personal courage, when Blair of course would have been gung-ho for another war and David Miliband would have perhaps been pulled along in the slipstream.
Blair achieved nothing when in opposition before 1997 and, for that matter, nor did Thatcher before 1979.
For a leader to achieve so much without executive authority in opposition, no leader in modern times can stand beside Ed Miliband.
Michael Meacher is Labour MP for Oldham West and Royton. Read his blog at www.michaelmeacher.info
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