There has been all sorts of hysterical reaction in the papers to Ed Miliband’s decision to be ‘interviewed’ by Russell Brand on The Trews. Here’s mine.
First off what a dick David Cameron is – again – to dismiss it as a joke, something he does not have enough time for. That just shows – again – how out of touch he is, how stuck in an old-media rut the Tories are.
By this morning the full 15 minute interview had been viewed by more people than watch Newsnight. I’ll wager that by Sunday morning it will have been seen by more people than watch the Andrew Marr show that Cameron is happy enough to drag himself out of bed for.
Someone in the Labour war-room is switched on enough to know it’s worth Ed being on The Trews, on Vice, even on Buzzfeed (if they can think of twenty three things that make him interesting. Good luck with that). Brave enough even to let it happen in a kitchen. (But why in a suit?)
I thought it was not a bad performance. Way more focused and on the money than normal, demonstrating a real understanding of the alienation and frustration of younger (non) voters. Not overly aggressive. Listening and learning.
Unfortunately that’s my verdict on Russell.
He didn’t even give a straight answer to the first question.
Russell says he “must be bloody worn out?” Ed replies, “No. Busy. But happy to be here”. A much better, and from the look of him more honest, reply would have been, “Yes. Knackered. But it will be worth it to kick the still-nasty party out of Downing Street next week”.
He went on not really to answer any of the questions. He seemed to have nothing scripted and punchy up his sleeve ready for any of Russell’s pretty predictable questions. He was always going to be in a fight for airtime. There was never going to be any time for waffle or preamble. He knew that.
He says things can be done – about banks, tax avoiders, Murdoch and the rest – but cannot say what. He thinks another Tory government would be a threat to the NHS but fails to mention Europe, the single issue on which he has most common ground with the age group The Trews reaches.
He thinks change comes from the people (that’s an Oxford PPE for you). And he’s not looking to create euphoria around his potential to create change (ditto).
He let’s Brand run the conversation, goes with his flow, plays it like Mourinho plays the big games. It’s not about possession. It’s about not making mistakes. Let the other guy make the mistakes. Win one-nil if you can. A draw will do.
But his number one failing is his tone. He sounds just nothing like a potential Prime Minister. Just like at PMQs he speaks as if time is running out from the moment he opens his mouth. He doesn’t expect to get to the end of the sentence. He knows he will soon be cut-off, shot-down or shut-up.
It must be a product of his upbringing. The story of his life. Picture the scene. The family dinner table. Politics – as ever presumably – the subject of discussion. There he is, hopping up and down on his chair, trying to get a word in edgeways.
And Ralph says, “Wait a minute Edward, David is talking”.