I was in the room at Manchester’s TUC conference when Ed Miliband was asked if he would attend the anti-cuts TUC rally tomorrow in London. “I’ll attend the rally, definitely,” he replied. As I wrote at the time it was a significant moment, not least because David Miliband sounded much more ambivalent. Their different replies may have made a difference in terms of crucial votes from union members.
Now Polly Curtis at the Guardian is reporting that Mili-E will not be there tomorrow; instead he will have some private chats with union officials. It’s a striking U-turn.
Some may see this as proof of Ed Miliband’s wooliness in the face of tough decisions. I have a different theory; that is, it reflects his ability to tell one audience one thing and another audience another. That is, political aptitude.
Last month the union brothers were astonished that David would not show willing to attend their march (not a strike). “It’s not like we could have done anything if he’d told us ‘yes’ and then not turned up,” one told me at the time. Ironic in retrospect.