ed miliband
Miliband has tackled his image problemGetty

If one word could sum up Ed Miliband's summer campaign speech, it would be "brave". And not only in the positive sense of that word.

It was brave, meaning courageous, because the Labour leader, clearly under heavy advice, has accepted there is an "Ed problem" and that the best way to deal with it is to address it head-on.

Apparently this is known in the US as "hanging a lantern" on it which, more simply, means shining a light on it. So the hand of Miliband's American aide and ex-Obama man, David Axelrod, appeared to be at work.

It argues that by shining a light on the personality flaws your opponents have latched on to, you can turn them into positives and, with a bit of luck, turn the tables. It takes some personal guts to do it.

So Miliband contrasted his clumsy, weird, brainy character against David Cameron's sophisticated, smooth shallowness. And he hopes voters will then see an ordinary, flawed, un-telegenic bloke versus a manufactured, out-of-touch image-obsessed toff.

He talked about his inability to eat a bacon sandwich in a photogenic manner, his likeness to Wallace (of Gromit fame) and his mistake of posing with the Sun newspaper.

"David Cameron is a very sophisticated and successful exponent of a politics based purely on image," he said.

"I am not going to be able to compete with that and I don't intend to. I want to offer something different.

"I am not from central casting. You can find people who are more square-jawed, more chiselled, look less like Wallace.

"You could probably even find people who look better eating a bacon sandwich.

"If you want the politician from central casting, it's just not me, it's the other guy. If you want a politician who thinks that a good photo is the most important thing, then don't vote for me."

What he meant was "you obviously don't want a square-jawed, chiselled, less puppet looking smoothie only interested in photo ops, so vote for me".

Prime Minister David Cameron at Lord Mayor's Banquet
Cameron is seen as smooth and sophisticatedReuters

The contrast he was offering was a leader who was not interested in image but would "stand up and say there is more to politics than the photo op".

"The current prime minister might take a good picture but he can't build a country that works for you," said Miliband. "It is not what interests him. And it is not who he stands up for.

"The leadership you need and the leadership this country needs is one that has big ideas to change things, with the sense of principle needed to stick to those beliefs and ideas even when it is hard, and with the decency and empathy to reach out to people from all backgrounds, all walks of life."

Then there is the not-so-positive use of the word "brave" to describe this tactic. That is to use it in the way civil servant Sir Humphrey, of TV's "Yes, Prime Minister" fame used to when the PM came up with what was clearly a disastrous policy idea.

And this is most definitely a potentially disastrous idea, for the simple reason it draws attention to his peculiarities, legitimises them and declares a free for all for anyone to throw them back at him.

Self-deprecation is one thing but only a few years back, disastrous Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith attempted something similar in response to the fact he couldn't project himself with any power whatsoever and had a permanent frog in his throat.

Fist he attempted the "don't underestimate the determination of a quiet man" then, when the sniggers had died down, he claimed "the quiet man is turning up the volume". He never recovered.

And the very last person Miliband wants to be compared to is Duncan Smith.