I don’t know why some of us nurture the hope that a Labour leader might someday articulate a little of what we feel, but we do. In these days of the internet, the shadow cabinet is a bit like the Top 20: people have a vague idea of who might be in it but it doesn’t really count for much.
If we want to know what’s inspiring young people, social media offers a better indication than the BBC. But the Beeb does give massive exposure to whoever’s at Number 1, even though he won’t be there for long. So maybe we can be forgiven for minding that he’s being so useless.
Ed Miliband is clearly determined. He crushed the dreams of his brother, a man I wouldn’t like to cross – mainly because I’d fear being bundled onto a plane by the CIA and flown to Bagram air base. It’s possible Ed was more worried that David’s creepy relationship with the US state department would come back to haunt Labour if it elected him.
It’s also possible that Ed intended to offer the country something more progressive than his brother. If so, he doesn’t seem to know what it is. Moreover, he appears to be terrified. He’s so desperate to dissociate himself from union militancy that he sees it in everything unions do, thus trampling his only hope of overcoming the Blairites baying for his downfall – a strong alliance with the unions around an alternative to New Labour.
My stab at amateur psychology is this: the reason he’s terrified is that he knows in his heart that capitalism doesn’t work. He knows because he was taught that from birth. He rebelled as a young man but has been forced back to the realism of his parents by his experience as climate change secretary if not by the banking fiasco.
But anti-capitalism is now the belief that dare not speak its name at Westminster, and what if someone found out?
That’s a generous interpretation, anyway.
Jeremy Hardy is a comedian and writer who regularly appears on BBC Radio 4's The News Quiz and I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue.