Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Super Ed.The Milky Bars are on him.


Imagine, if you can, the Milky Bar Kid stepping into a phone booth and emerging as Superman. Hang onto that thought because I am going to tell you about Ed Miliband.

It is now tradition that the Last Chance Saloon opens its doors for business every twelve months to allow Ed to barrel up to the bar. Each year, he has to find time at Labour's annual conference to remind them - and himself - that he is leader of the gang. 

To outside observers, it might seem like three years since he pulled off his Cain and Able act over brother Dave. But, regular readers will know that Ed believes in the two steps forward, three, four, or even more, steps backwards, approach to political power. Each year, he flowers as briefly as the broad-leaved epiphyllum - to paraphrase John Prescott - before disappearing from view once again.

Last year, unnerved activists were handed One Nation by their leader as the way ahead for party and country. But, they had not finished applauding his return before it, and he, disappeared down a nearby rabbit hole.

The less-than-often spotted Ed could be seen now and again biting the Prime Minister's ankles and staging obscure parliamentary victories. But, every time he did something substantial like Syria, a combination of Wallace and Gromit and Lynton Crosby seemed to squander it.

And, so the stage was set perfectly for the latest episode in the mini-series as Ed arrived in Brighton to re-apply, once again, for his job. Until today, the conference had revolved around two main themes- why are the bar staff in Brighton so snooty?, and Damian McBride.

It is now history that Damian, seeking catholic absolution, decided to trouser £130,000 of Daily Mail gelt for his memoirs as chief-liar to the Great Sulk. Luckily for Ed M - not to mention Ed B - the Mail money did not apparently spread thin enough to encompass these two other lieutenants of Gordon Brown.

But, the appearance of the potato-faced propagandist in Brighton was enough to encourage Alex Ferguson's "squeaky bum time." Just to be extra helpful, ITV News released a poll showing 61 per cent of people believe Ed does not come across as an election winner. Only 17 per cent think he does, which was useful because they were obviously the people the Party had booked to hear his speech.

It used to be the tradition that the leader stood on the stage to address the adoring faithful gathered below. But, everyone and his sibling made it to the stage today, the only qualification being, apparently, that you had a note from your mam.

Having learned from previous years, all steps were removed and Ed's space of movement was restricted to reduce opportunities for the silly walk so beloved of his critics. And so, suddenly it was High Noon - aka twenty past two - and there he was.

What was immediately apparent was that the Ed M of the previous 364 days had been traded in for brand new confident, relaxed, funny version. Mr Gawky had swopped his legs with somebody else, borrowed a sense of humour and was cracking jokes about action heroes.

He talked about his mum, not his socialist dad, got them to applaud wife Justine and reminded the juniors behind he was an oldie brought up way back in the 1980's. There was a pause in the room, some shuffling and then relief washing over an audience which suddenly thought maybe they hadn't made a mistake.

He ran through content, the NHS, vote at 16, an energy price freeze and they loved it.They got to their feet for almost spontaneous applause and he loved it. Alan Partridge - wotshisname - loved it, Justine looked nervous  but even Lord Prescott took time out from his sandwich to look suitably impressed.

Ed revealed he's had One Nation back in the body shop and a new sleeker "Britain is better than this" model has been outfitted. As for Dave - not the brother but the other one in Number 10 - well Ed's had it with having sand kicked in his eyes.

"You won't find me taking my shirt off on the beach", 

he said in an aside at Dave's summer antics.

Luckily the audience moved quickly on without dwelling too long on this reality. 

"Want to take me on?" said Super Ed in a message to the PM. 
"Be my guest," he said, with all the aplomb of someone who's been on a Clint Eastwood away-day.

And, as suddenly as he started he was finished; over an hour without notes, auto-cue or mistakes. The audience went a bit berserk, Ed grabbed Justine's hand, kissed everything that moved and fled for the door. He took a wrong turn up the steps, did the funny walk, waved his arms like a windmill and escaped.

The Milky Bars were on him.

Let's hope he didn't pop back into the booth