17 April 2015

Dear Westminster (part three)

The final two stamps are there for MAC. This isn't a reference to the makeup brand, although I wouldn't put it past the political wives to go all-out for the Femail journalists.

Miliband and Cameron. The big two. The MC cheeses. One of these men will be leading our Great Britain come May 7th, or 8th, or 9th… it could depend how quickly Dave does a Gordon, waltzing out of Downing Street, with no elected government.

These letters draw in part from the ITV debate, but also look at the campaign kick-offs and manifesto launches. With 21 days to go, it's still all to play for.

Dear Ed Miliband

Firstly, I want to apologise. I never thought these words would come out of my mouth, but I do. In the past, I have judged you. I bought into the character onslaught by the media. I've called you Wallace. I've called you many things. Milipede, Mili-banned, Milibean - I think I might even have photoshopped your face onto Mr Bean... I wanted your brother as leader. In short, I've not been a fan of Ed. In my defence, you didn't always help the situation. 

source: the independent.co.uk
Declaring war against Murdoch, only to pose with his main paper… you should talk to Elton John, walking round with a Dolce and Gabbana bag the day after calling for a boycott of the brand. As for the second photo, the phrase is "lend a hand", not "give a finger". This is how I responded… 

To your credit, you nailed the expression of disbelief last night. It wasn't the only thing you delivered either. As I stated in the first post of my Dear Westminster series, I've tried to approach this election with an open mind. Just as I always say I am a girl with diabetes not a diabetic, I do not want to define myself as a Tory Voter or Labour Voter. Things are never so set in stone. This open outlook has allowed me to be less straitjacketed by a certain view. 

You are a case in point of this. You have grown into the role. Your oratory skills are  stronger, and last night you certainly appeared more statesmanlike than I have ever seen you.  Without Dave there to be Mr PM, you stepped into the role more convincingly than I would ever have anticipated. Your final call to Cameron was a little like one of those "let's take this outside" moments; this isn't a wrestling match, as much as you may have felt alone in the centre ring, with the three woman coming from the left. I think Nick would join you there though - on another debate, he agrees with you, Ed! 

source: independent.co.uk
Nonetheless, the polls today would suggest I am not alone in recognising your merits last night. You even came out above Sturgeon who, love her or hate her, is an orator to be reckoned with. On the other hand, as the member of a main party you do have the advantage of voter support. Last night was still a repeat of the "Nicola Show". Moreover, if PDAs = power plays, the picture below would suggest it isn't looking so good...

source: bbc.co.uk
Despite your bold protests against the SNP, Sturgeon will likely be sat at any hung-parliament negotiation table. I admired just how strongly you did speak out against the SNP, but the true test will come on May 8th. You will need to join that embrace, or risk the weakness of a minority government. 

Across these three debates, you have come across as more passionate then Cameron. You have also stood robust against the - at times - quite damning personal attacks. The Paxman onslaught actually worked in your favour. While Kay Burley positively fawned over Cameron, you were pressed far harder and held your own. You didn't fluster, and what emerged was a determination far stronger than the current PM. 

On policy, you've stood your ground in recent years; you wouldn't let the press go unanswered, and stood up to the energy companies. On Syria, you didn't simply go with the majority view. For someone who still harbours a deep-seated anger towards the last Labour government, I actually feel you have redeemed your party somewhat. I do believe you genuinely have good intentions for this country. Perhaps I am too optimistic, overlooking harsh reality that "all parties are the same". Or I could view it as open-minded.  

Credit to you for doing this 3rd debate tonight. You are pretty much entering a ring where, bar Farage, you are standing alone in the right corner - Nicola and Natalie make Labour look rather austere. I wouldn't be surprised if your crib-notes change from "happy warrior" to "happy Bolshevik". 

source: filmfan.co.uk
I actually felt resentful towards the media for mocking you, when the debate notes were released. Maybe the fact that "Happy Warrior" comes from a Wordsworth poem, makes me more sympathetic to your cause… on the other hand, I think it was the simple innocence of the situation. What's wrong with positive affirmations? I have them pinned around my bedroom! Go be a happy warrior Ed. Even if it does conjure an image somewhat like the one on the right… 

I do, however, have a few bugbears that can't be overlooked:

- The Language Rhetoric: "I get it, I get it, I get it" "If I am Prime Minister" "If I am Prime Minister"… .They don't quite have the ring of Churchill's "we will fight them on the beaches", if that is what you were going for. There's emphatic repetition, and then there's a broken record. If I were you, I would invest in an iPod, although I understand that might compromise your "man of the people" image.

- The Policy Rhetoric - again, repetition is good. Textbook for speech-writing. On the other hand, sometimes a song can be overplayed - this only works for a select few, Disney being one of them. One week it was tuition fees, the next it was zero hours contracts… what will you be saying come Monday? One thing is certain, it will be hard for us to miss. 

- The Hand: You have this speaking habit where your hand basically looks like you are permanently giving someone a lecture. Prodding and jabbing doesn't send the best message.

source: bbc.co.uk
That being said, if the Channel 4 Docudrama Coalition is anything to go by, this body language issue in the Labour camp isn't exclusive to you… 

Ed Balls, as portrayed by Nicholas Burns in Coalition, and Ed Balls… You can decide who is who.
source: (left and right) channel 4, (middle) bbc.co.uk
However, I understand you can't do a Balls and bring doughnuts as a peace offering. I hear your advisors have banned you from eating in public.  

source: (left) channel 4, (right) independent.co.uk

Due to human decency, I didn't feel the need to reprint the bacon sarnie photograph. I have less sympathy when it comes to 'That Balls man' (a quote by my old history teacher, not me!). Oh, that reminds me of another word of advice: Get rid of Balls. Please. 

Presentation is something Nick and Nicola have down to a tee. So imagine my delight when I saw you adopt there "open arms" approach when delivering your manifesto. Last night the hands were a bit less lecturing too - taking subtle pointers from the Queen Beyond the Wall, won't do you any harm.

source: bbc.co.uk

To conclude, I don't think you're useless. In fact, I have more respect for you each time I see you. Many people rank you well below your party, but I would actually place you slightly above. Get rid of Balls, Harman, and all the other sons of Blair… perhaps I could be swung by Labour. 

All the best for May 7th; I'm sure you will be relieved when it's all wrapped up. The election campaign, that is, not an actual wrap. Don't worry - I'm confident your PR people will keep any deli items well under wraps until the big day. 

Ps: Please do give Nick a call - if you're Wallace, the twittersphere are tearing him to pieces like a little lost Gromit puppy. 


I was intending to write to our Prime Minister too, but as he's gone AWOL I couldn't find his address. So I must join the masses asking "where is David Cameron?" Please do keep me updated. 


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