CCHQ gets the result it wanted - Red Ed, the mouthpiece of the unions
If there was a better result for CCHQ in its dreams, I don't know what it could have been.
This is a woeful result for Labour, for two - no, let's say twin - reasons. First, because Cain's slain Abel by the narrowest of margins. Second, because the trade unions backed the winner..while MPs and Labour members backed the loser. As Stephen Pollard's just tweeted, Ed Miliband will be pursued from now until the next election with the question: if you're so great, why did Labour MPs back your brother?
David Cameron will use the line again and again in the Commons. And CCHQ will be sure to contrast this tightrope election, in which a divided Labour limped back to its comfort zone, with Cameron's triumphant 2005 leadership win, in which he took two-thirds of the Party with him as he boldly set out for new horizons.
In short, Downing Street, CCHQ - and for that matter the Tory-leading Liberal Democrats - have the Labour winner they wanted - Red Ed, the mouthpiece of the unions!
I began Labour's leadership contest by believing that Ed Miliband was the best of the candidates. I ended it thinking that Ed Balls has fought the best campaign, and the younger Miliband the worst - risking the long-term pain of shifting left for the short-term gain of sewing up the union vote. It has to be said that the gambit worked for him.
My present view could be wrong, my former one right. Ed Miliband starts from a high base. His party was only ten or so seats short of forming a rainbow Coalition. I see that he's positioning himself to campaign alongside Clegg in the AV referendum. He could turn on his left-wing backers.
But the last Labour leader to try that trick was Neil Kinnock. It didn't work for him. And if Ed Miliband speaks in future in the lacklustre way he did a few moments ago, it won't work for him either.
All in all, this is a win for the Brownites and a defeat for the Blairites. Tony Blair's the only Labour leader in modern times who won elections. Anyone care to bet that Ed Miliband will follow in his footsteps?