Miliband wages class war on Tory toffs, but it could backfire
Labour leader’s conference speech will focus on ‘Ed the man’, but there is nothing normal about his background
ED MILIBAND has been accused of igniting a class war against Tory toffs David Cameron, George Osborne and Boris Johnson before he has uttered a word of his keynote speech to the Labour party conference.
The speech, dubbed 'Ed the man', has triggered a row this morning on Twitter over whether Miliband's alma mater, Haverstock comprehensive school in north London’s Chalk Farm, is middle class or not.
Patrick Wintour of The Guardian Tweeted: "Miliband's Haverstock school is not a middle class oasis. Pupils on free school meals 55.9%, first language not English 63.8%, special needs 45.4%."
Other Tweeters pointed out that Haverstock was middle class when Miliband was there. Old Etonian Boris Johnson got in on the act yesterday by revealing in his column for The Daily Telegraph that he went to the same Primrose Hill Primary School as Miliband E - "a coincidence that he is curiously disinclined to mention".
Miliband's spin doctors are already playing down the focus on the Labour leader’s background. Andrew Grice reports this morning in the Independent: "Labour officials denied that Mr Miliband is reigniting the class war."
Oh but he is! The Labour leader is planning to use his speech this afternoon to answer the charge made by deputy leader Harriet Harman only two days ago that after two years in charge, nobody knows who he is. He will apparently say he is proud to be a pointy headed, wonky geek.
What has got the Tories upset is that he is contrasting his own 'humble' background with David Cameron's privileged background. "My family has not sat under the same oak tree for the last 500 years. My parents came to Britain as immigrants, Jewish refugees from the Nazis.
I would not be standing here today without the compassion and tolerance of our great country," he will say.
"I was born at my local NHS hospital, the same hospital where my two sons were born. And I went to my local school with people from all backgrounds." Ed's briefing team were active around the press centre at the Labour conference last night briefing his plan to focus on the "forgotten 50 per cent" who don't go to university.
Dougie Alexander, the shadow foreign secretary and former election strategist, said: "It will be a personal speech setting out who he is. I think people want to know Miliband the man."
The trouble is, compared to many Labour voters, by the time Ed was born, he was living in a household that many would view as privileged.
He and David are the sons of the left-wing intellectual Ralph Miliband, the Marxist thinker and LSE lecturer, who flew the socialist flag along with Old Labour heroes such as Michael Foot and historian EP Thompson.
A cursory glance by the Mole at the Spartacus website confirmed that Ralph was indeed a Jewish refugee from the Nazis in Belgium. He came to England in 1940 on a boat from Ostend, only ten days after Hitler launched his Blitzkrieg, and understandably changed his name from Adolphe.
But Ed Miliband is surely on a loser trying to convince the public who don't know him that he is an average sort of bloke, who likes a pint down the old Dog and Gun, and has The Sun sticking out of his back pocket. The more faux-working class Ed tries to appear, the less the public will believe his narrative.
Patrick Wintour reports the speech today in The Guardian under the headline: 'Miliband's education vow - end elitism".
To any kid who went from school into manual work - those Ed is today championing with a 'technical baccalaureate' - Ed's progress might seem pretty elitist.
He went to Corpus Christi College, Oxford (PPE) and the LSE (Masters degree) and became a political adviser before joining Brown's team in opposition and going with him into the Treasury and eventually Number Ten (what a success that was). His only brush with 'real work' was a short stint as a television journalist.
The Mole reckons Ed's burly (ok, tubby) shadow chancellor Ed Balls could give his leader some good advice after trouncing the journalists' football team led by the FT's George Parker 3-0 at the Manchester conference. "Play the ball, not the man, Ed." ·