What does it take to be leader of the Labour Party? A passion for social justice? The ability to connect with middle Britain? Steadfastness? Intellectual rigour? Low cunning? Perhaps all of those things and many more.
However Ed Miliband seems to think it only involves the memorising and repetition of certain key phrases. Hence it appears that in order to be Labour leader the only qualification is that you are able to say any or all of the following at any given moment:
"It's the same old Tories"
"You can't trust the Tories with the NHS"
"Doesn't it show how out of touch he is?"
Ed Miliband is a graduate of Oxford and the London School of Economics (in its pre-Gaddafi era) and as such, one would imagine, is more intelligent and capable of formulating an opposition voice than the kind of 15 year old socialist that might be expected to pass off any of the above statements as an argument.
To give him some credit Miliband did make an attempt at original thought during his speech to the Labour conference last year, to somewhat mixed reviews. However he really needs to develop and clarify this whole "ethical capitalism" idea to show that it really is about promoting "ethics" (we already have the "capitalism" part) rather than it being just a euphemism for yet more state control and interference in business.
Hopefully Miliband will indeed develop this and other ideas to the point where we can decide whether to vote for or against him at a general election on his merits or otherwise. If he fails to do so and just sticks to his stock phrases then I can only propose that the next leader of the Labour Party be a re-programmed Woody doll from Toy Story.
Indeed one might not even notice the difference, although no doubt the Tory Party would have plenty more "strings pulled by Unite" or "puppet of the unions" jokes at the ready. Surely the party that produced Clement Atlee can press a more rigorous and coherent attack against a government, which by its very nature is more divided and more likely to collapse than any since the 1970's.