Ed listening is a sight for sore eyes. He crouches slightly and goes very still, pointing his face at the questioner, concentrating his whole being in their direction. He may quiver slightly, like a greyhound.
It’s what people who don’t listen do to show they’re listening.
He speaks human too. “I want some gender balance,” he said, taking questions. “There’s a lady over there.”
She didn’t say, “How dare you talk to me like that!” But how did he dare?
“I want some ethnic balance, you sir with the headgear, and the um, the you know,” (Rubs his hands in a circular motion over his cheeks). He knows you can’t do that, at least.
He didn’t actively empathise with anyone, God knows how he would have done that and who would have cleaned up afterwards.
A journalist got hold of a microphone and asked if Ed would accept there was a crisis of confidence in his leadership.
He said, “My answer is no.”
Straightforward denial of reality. Very important quality in a leader. If you can describe Ed as a leader.
He said they were going to “change the way the economy works.”
Big job, that.
His speech offered to probe the causes of the current discontent. It might have made an interesting brief for a speech in 1992. Globalisation. Immigration. Wages.
But he didn’t draw any conclusions – for the conclusions damn him and his record in office. His government helped create an underclass debauched by benefits and incapable of work. His policies have held down wages by shipping in millions of minimum-wage workers from the poorest countries in Europe.
And he is promising to change things that can’t be changed while we belong to the EU.
And yet: “There is no greater threat to our prosperity than leaving the EU.”
Leaving the EU sends a signal we are closed for business, he said.
The voters of Dudley will hear that and will deduce they have not been “listened to”.
According to Ed, even talking about leaving the EU is an error. A fault. A betrayal. A treason.
There will be no compromise with the electorate on this.
The poor boy is so out of touch.
As they start their canter into the Valley of Death, it is possible to imagine next May’s election reducing the Labour party to a metropolitan rump, despised and ignored by the rest of the country.
And Ed getting in Harvard something he could never get with the Labour party: tenure.