Ed Miliband - from Wallace to Stalin in just seven days
Right-wing press goes to town on 'Red Ed' Miliband - just as Osborne asks Brussels to allow bankers bigger bonuses
ED MILIBAND finds himself this morning the target of the most vitriolic media attack in a generation. The headlines against him in most of the right- wing papers are the spikiest since The Sun ran a headline against Neil Kinnock in 1992 saying that if Labour won, 'would the 'last person to leave Britain please turn out the lights'.
The energy companies have launched a blitz against Miliband's plan to freeze their prices for 20 months if he wins in 2015. Rather than back the cause of the consumers who - as even some Tories admit - feel ripped off, the right-wing press has piled in on behalf of the energy fat cats.
Leading the chorus is the Daily Mail with the headline: 'Miliband's bid to fix fuel price blows up in his face.' Underneath, it reports: 'The lights will go out over Britain: shares in energy firms drop 5% amid warnings of blackouts from Miliband's plan to freeze bills.'
The Mail has wheeled out its resident social historian Dominic Sandbrook to describe how Ed Miliband gets his inspiration from his Marxist intellectual father, Ralph (pronounced Raif). Under the headline 'Miliband's Marxist father and the real reason he wants to drag us back to the nightmare 70s', Sandbrook reports that Ralph's grave is appropriately close to Karl Marx's tomb in Highgate cemetery, north London. Miliband pere's headstone bears the inscription: 'Writer, teacher, socialist.'
It is a point that was made earlier this week in The Times by Rachel Sylvester. What's the betting that in the coming months, there will be a well-beaten path to that grave by film crews wanting to highlight the socialist beliefs of Ed Miliband.
Of course, Miliband knew he would get hammered the moment he stepped out of the shadow of his brother, David - a middle-ground Blairite and therefore more acceptable to the media.
Polly Toynbee, the Guardian commentator and cheerleader for Ed Miliband, said on Sunday's Andrew Marr Show that Ed was braced for attacks by the Murdoch press because he had broken with the Blairites' cosy relationship with Murdoch over the News of the World hacking scandal - a point Miliband himself highlighted in his conference speech.
But even Ed must have been taken aback this morning by the strength of the vitriol poured on him, not just in the Murdoch papers, but in the Mail and Daily Telegraph, too.
Only a week ago he was caricatured on the covers of both The Spectator and the New Statesman as the hapless Wallace from Wallace and Gromit. Today he is reviled as a Soviet Dictator, threatening state intervention.
To misquote Vince Cable, Ed Miliband has gone from Wallace to Stalin in just seven days. [See footnote.]
The Daily Telegraph - whose front page headline says: 'Miliband accused of economic vandalism' - quotes Neil Woodford, head of equities at Invesco Perpetual and one of the UK's most influential fund managers, saying that a price cap on energy bills would damage the investment case for the UK and block the billions of pounds of new money the Government admits it needs.
"Here we have a serious politician, standing up and saying what he said which I think at a stroke torpedoed any chance that any of that investment will happen between now and the next election."
The Telegraph has also commissioned a piece by Jesse Norman, the Tory MP, accusing Ed Miliband of "a masterclass in dishonest populism". The paper even runs an attack on Miliband by Robin Knox Johnson, the yachtsman, for suggesting in his speech that yachts were for the privileged elite.
As if that were not enough, Lord Mandelson - the keeper of the Blairite flame - attacked Red Ed yesterday for state intervention, arguing that it gives the impression the party is going "backwards".
And yet, in their rush to condemn Miliband, the press have given far lower billing to a more telling story - that on the same day the Labour leader was having to defend his decision to stand up for consumers (a point supported by Which?, the consumer magazine), the Chancellor, George Osborne, was launching a legal challenge in Brussels to stop the EU capping bonuses for rich bankers.
That could be a pointer to the stark choice that will be put to the electorate in 2015 now that 'Red Ed' has pinned his socialist colours firmly to the mast.
Footnote: It was Cable who told the Commons on 28 November 2007 that Gordon Brown had undergone "a remarkable transformation - from Stalin to Mr Bean". ·