Thatcher handbags Ed Miliband from beyond the grave
Problem for Labour's leader is that the Thatcher dissidents – Scargill, Kinnock, Hatton – sound like political pygmies
HOW DOES Ed Miliband get his May local elections campaign back on track? With hours of praise on the BBC and wall-to-wall coverage in the press, Margaret Thatcher effectively sabotaged yesterday's Labour launch from beyond the grave.
All three parties are forced to put their campaigns on hold until after the Great Warrior Queen's 'not the state funeral' next week at St Paul's. But only Miliband has to contend with the 'Thatcher factor' - and it won't be easy.
The Labour campaign is based on the lethal accusation that David Cameron is only in it for himself - an elite Tory Toff who looks after his rich banker pals in the City, while Miliband pushes national unity under the banner of One Nation Labour.
With its five-point pledge card, Miliband's campaign is a dry run for the general election. The central strategy attacking Tory elitism was being bench-tested for 2015 until 12.54 pm yesterday when the Press Association put out Lord Bell's statement announcing Lady T's death.
Since that fateful moment, the BBC has sounded at times more like the state broadcasting service of North Korea after the death of Kim Jong-il and Miliband knows that it can only get worse.
Tomorrow, MPs will break their Easter holiday for a special session in the Commons so they can add their words to the mountain of praise for Lady Thatcher. Even after the funeral, all eyes will be on the memoir being published post-mortem by her biographer, Charles Moore, who has taken up acres of today's Daily Telegraph for a eulogy to the Great Lady.
Moore had access to Thatcher's private papers and, because the deal was that his book could only be published after her death, political observers reckon there must be some good stuff in it. So far, Moore will only reveal that she wanted her memoirs to be entitled Undefeated - because she didn't even lose the leadership election which caused her to resign.
For Miliband, it's not just that the coming week is a political write-off. There is a far more worrying issue that has to be included in his political calculations. In all this tidal wave of praise for Thatcher and Thatcherism, the cries of the dissidents - the likes of Ken Livingstone, Arthur Scargill, Neil Kinnock and Liverpool's Derek Hatton - sound like the moans of political pygmies.
What if the hours of praise for what the Lady did for Britain and the criticism of what Labour Britain was like before she took office have a more lasting effect?
Miliband has based his campaign on the defence of the poor whose benefits are being cut this week, while the millionaires get tax cuts from Dave. But opinion polls show that the voters support the Tories on tackling welfare scroungers and this morning The Sun is reporting that Miliband's own parliamentary bag carrier, Jonathan Reynolds, has backed party colleague Simon Danczuk's call to get tough on scroungers.
In yesterday's Sun, Danczuk, MP for Rochdale, said: "The Left has to accept there are some people on the dole that don't want to work and we need to have a plan to get them into work." Reynolds was one of several Labour figures - including Tom Harris, Gloria de Piero and Ivan Lewis - who tweeted links to his remarks.
Thatcher's death has revived all the old Labour ghosts, giving Cameron the sort of boost he could hardly have imagined. ·