TOM UTLEY: I’m certain what’s turned Red Ed nutty

TOM UTLEY: In my oh-so-humble submission as a saloon-bar shrink, I’m certain what’s turned Red Ed nutty

Did you happen to catch Ed Miliband’s unhinged performance in the Commons on Wednesday, during one of his rare appearances at Westminster since he lost the 2015 election?

If you missed it, and have access to the internet, I can’t recommend too strongly that you track it down and have a look.

For it’s a truly chilling reminder of what a fortunate escape we had, and what a weird creature might be our Prime Minister today if voters hadn’t had the sense to send him packing.

In my time, I’ve sat through quite a few nutty speeches in the Commons — for some ten years from a pew in the Press Gallery above the Speaker’s Chair, and for the 30-odd years since from the sofa in front of the TV.

Did you happen to catch Ed Miliband’s unhinged performance in the Commons on Wednesday, during one of his rare appearances at Westminster since he lost the 2015 election? 

But I can’t remember ever having witnessed a display quite as deranged as Mr Miliband’s on Wednesday.

There he stood, in a sparsely attended House, bellowing at the top of his cracking voice, flapping his arms around in a frenzy — in the words of one sketchwriter ‘like an auctioneer at a cattle-market’.

As my mate John put it more brutally in the pub at lunchtime yesterday: ‘It was like watching the local loony raging in an empty street.’

Crackdown

Eyes bulging, elongated forefinger wagging like a conductor’s baton during the Flight Of The Bumblebee, Red Ed couldn’t stand still. At times seeming close to tears, he kept turning left and right before spinning round to harangue the almost empty benches behind him.

As for what was exciting him so much, it was his abiding obsession with the media — the subject of three of his four speeches in the Commons this year.

Earlier, he had broadcast on Radio 4’s Today programme an unsubstantiated rumour that callous journalists had posed as medical staff to interview relatives bereaved in the Manchester bombing. He claimed this was a proven fact. It isn’t.

Now he was back on his hobby-horse, demanding the re-opening of the £50million Leveson inquiry, which led to a draconian crackdown on Press freedom. Not draconian enough for Mr Miliband.

He wasn’t pursuing a personal vendetta against my trade, of course. Champions of ever tighter Press regulation, to govern what the public may and may not be told, would never do any such thing. They think only of others less fortunate than themselves.

It’s surely coincidence that so many of these warriors for state control turn out to have had run-ins with newspapers over revelations their publicists would have preferred to keep from the public eye.

I think of Max Mosley, Hugh Grant, Steve Coogan and Zac Goldsmith, who sat together at the Leveson Inquiry, where they were memorably described by the Mail’s Quentin Letts as: ‘Our stern quartet of trouser-droppers.’ No, perish the thought that Mr Miliband’s relish for further Press regulation might be motivated by his own less-than-respectful coverage in the papers.

On Wednesday, he assured us he cared only about the victims of the voicemail-hacking scandal — victims to whom he, David Cameron and Nick Clegg had made a solemn pledge that Leveson would be a two-part inquiry.

‘No ifs, no buts, no maybes,’ he said, ‘a clear promise to victims of the Press. And here we come today, and we have the Government saying, “Let’s dump this promise. It’s too expensive — it’s a distraction.”

‘HOW DARE THEY?’ he howled. ‘How dare they say that to the McCanns, the Dowlers and all the other victims? HOW CAN WE BE HERE? I say to members across the House, in whatever party, that this is about our honour — this is a matter of HONOUR, of a promise we made.’

Bilge

At this stage, Jacob Rees-Mogg rose to point out, with his habitual impeccable politeness, that the Rt Hon member was talking bilge.

‘It seems to have escaped his attention that David Cameron is no longer Prime Minister, that Nick Clegg is no longer Deputy Prime Minister and that two former MPs and one existing MP cannot bind their successors. A new Parliament has the right to consider these matters afresh, and that is what is rightly being done today after countless police investigations and prosecutions, many of which ended in acquittal.’

But Mr Miliband was in no mood for reason. ‘I give way to the honourable gentleman’s constitutional knowledge,’ he said, adding with theatrical menace: ‘But I do not give way to him on morality.’

Blimey! When a crackpot like Mr Miliband lays a charge of immorality against one of the most moral members of the House, it really is time to call in the shrinks. So in the absence of the professionals, let me bring my own saloon-bar psychiatry to bear on the poor fellow’s condition, and his apparently pathological loathing of Press freedom.


Mr Miliband gesticulated wildly in the Commons as he claimed the failure to call the second round of the inquiry was a breach of ‘honour’ 

If you ask me, the former Labour leader was utterly shell-shocked by his defeat in 2015. Indeed, he was so convinced he would win that he is said to have been writing his victory speech when the exit polls came through, making it clear he was wasting his ink.

He desperately needed someone or something to blame — anyone but himself and the idiotic policies he espoused, which were only a few millimetres to the right of Jeremy Corbyn and equally guaranteed to reduce the country to penury.

So who better to blame than the ‘Right-wing media’ — those ‘running dogs of capitalism’ whom hard Left-wingers have always accused of brainwashing voters into forsaking their natural Socialism?

It never seems to occur to them that by far the most influential voice in the media — that of the BBC — is institutionally sympathetic to the Left in any contest against the Tories. Nor does it appear to cross their minds that millions choose to vote Conservative — and prefer papers such as the Mail to the Guardian, come to that — because they are small-c conservatives by nature.

Humiliation

By that, I mean instinctively patriotic and more concerned with getting on in life and looking after their families than with smashing the rich or setting up state-funded transsexual awareness workshops in every town and village.

No, to poor, confused Mr Miliband, the only possible explanation for his humiliation at the polls that night was the evil influence of my trade.

After all, hadn’t we been perfectly beastly to him about that unfortunate tussle he had with the bacon sandwich? And what about all the mockery that came his way when he delivered that conference speech, learnt by heart, in which he clean forgot to mention immigration or the UK’s terrifying deficit?

Even before his defeat, he’d shown the beginnings of paranoia when he announced in 2014 that ‘powerful vested interests’ were out to get him. This was despite the fact that the only PVIs to have much effect on his career were the trade unions who handed him the Labour leadership after he stabbed his better- qualified brother in the front.

In my humble submission as a wholly unqualified psychiatrist, therefore, I reckon it was his election downfall the following year that pushed him over the edge and turned him into the nutcase we saw in the Commons on Wednesday.

Yet there may be one grain of sanity behind his crackers attacks on newspapers. Could it be that somewhere in that disturbed mind, he realises the hard Left will never flourish in a Britain where Press freedom prevails, giving voters access to both sides of any argument? Indeed, only where the state can decide what people are allowed to think and know will his brand of politics stand a real chance.

Mr Corbyn certainly understands this. Hence his dark warning to the Press in February: ‘Change is coming.’ It’s a change no self-respecting freedom-lover could ever wish to see.

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