The Week in Politics: Mr Ed comes good… sort of

Miliband had a good week, apart from all the bad things that happened.
Sunny uplands? Miliband had a good week, apart from all the bad things that happened.

An unusual week in politics sees Ed come out on top, until he gets wiped off the news agenda.

By Ian Dunt

There were many unusual things happening in British politics this week.

It was strange, for instance, that an Honours Forfeiture Committee which decided Fred the Shred was a good bloke in 2008 (after the financial crisis) should suddenly conclude otherwise, mere weeks after the prime minister said so.

It was also odd to see a Cabinet secretary step down to battle criminal charges – the first time in recorded British history such a thing had happened. Or to have a banker refuse a considerable amount of money.

And yet by far the strangest thing to happen this week was Ed Miliband's newfound political fortune. He took on Stephen Hester, the RBS chief who felt that a sole million in his pay cheque simply wasn't rewarding enough, and won. He took on David Cameron, whose veto proclaiming peace in our time at the last EU summit turned out to not have quite the effect his backbenchers predicted. He even took on PMQs and came out with something approximating a win.

But even this week, as his victories started to tot up, the fates conspired against him. His devastating trouncing of Cameron after his statement on the EU summit was wiped off the news agenda by the Fred the Shred news. Then his brother popped up out of nowhere, with a political intervention demanding a Sherlock-level of deduction to establish its true meaning. The central message, it’s fair to say was: I'm still here and I'm still dithering. No-one dithers more violently than David Miliband. Then Ed's keynote speech on 'one nation banking' received zero publicity due to the tidal wave of interest that followed Chris Huhne's resignation on Friday morning.

Huhne is a cool customer and he dealt with the whole thing as if he was organising a teleconference. But he's now at the centre of a protracted legal case, much of which will centre on his contorted love life. After all, the accusations only emerged from his wife when he left her, although she's presumably ruing the day she did that, given that she also found herself facing criminal charges. A minor Lib Dem ministerial reshuffle took place afterwards, with Clegg maintaining a frankly optimistic assessment of his former rival's chances of returning to government.

It was a good old British political scandal: Sex, speeding tickets and constitutional precedent. More of the same next week, one can only assume.


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