Left Watch

« Tower Hamlets council give £64,000 and a recruiting base to Unite | Main | The strange death of liberal interventionist Labour »

Ed Miliband should be delighted the Government are swearing about him - but events may soon spoil his mood

By Mark Wallace
Follow Mark on Twitter.

“No 10 and the Foreign Office think Miliband is a f****** c*** and a copper-bottomed s***..." said one Government source.

Red EdSo reports the Times, about the Labour leader's decision to go back on his earlier agreement with the Government's strategy on Syria. It's not every day the Government brief newspapers that the Leader of the Opposition is a bleeping bleep and an absolute bleep.

Miliband should be over the moon - where once the Conservatives laughed about him, now they swear about him. I'm serious; it's a definite step up, from inspiring ridicule to disrupting the Government's plans enough to make them angry.

The more successful the Opposition, the more they frustrate the Government of the day.

The polls also suggest Ed's decision to wreck Cameron's approach has the agreement of the public, and in some circles he's being praised as a hero.

There are two reasons he should beware, though.

The first lies in events in Syria. While a week may be a long time in politics, it can be an aeon in war. Delaying any action against Assad might look good now, but the ball is effectively now back in the dictator's court - if he uses the extra time to massacre more civilians then the shine will swiftly wear off.

That isn't a party political point, it's a grim reality. There were plenty of politicians who were supposedly wise and sensible for staying out of Bosnia, until a genocide was so clearly underway that everyone suddenly started forgetting the role they played in allowing it to happen.

The second threat to Miliband's newfound momentum lies in the tale of why he so suddenly changed tack.

As Dan Hodges reports, Miliband definitely changed his mind between meeting David Cameron during Wednesday afternoon and 5.15pm, when he called the Prime Minister to withdraw his support. The question is why did he do so?

I severely doubt it was down to the protests of Diane Abbott or the Stop the War Coalition. Nor did any new facts come to light which might have led him to reverse his position. I suspect elements of the Shadow Cabinet simply refused to back him - and they were strong enough to force an about-turn.

Everyone's views on this will understandably be coloured in the short term by their opinion on whether Britain should or should not intervene. The uncomfortable fact for Ed Miliband is that, just as his eventual reputation is now in the hands of Bashar al-Assad, his decision-making may well not be under his control either.