Ed Miliband, leader of the Labour Party and of Her Majesty’s Opposition, often comes in for some stick for being a bit “nerdy”, apparently because he is a “North London Intellectual”. We – for obvious reasons – can’t see anything wrong with being either a North Londoner or an intellectual, and we don’t get it.
But his political opponents use this perceived intellectual loftiness against him to suggest that he is not really in touch with The People, and this idea was recently put somewhat to the test when Mr Miliband visited a BAE Systems plant in Lancashire.
Here he was apparently attacked (verbally, not physically) by one of the employees for being too soft on immigration. Mr Miliband apparently responded as well as he could, but probably not sufficiently robustly for his audience.
And later on, at a “People’s Question Time” session, he took an unexpectedly positive line on immigration. He is quoted as saying “I think that actually immigration has benefits for our country.” And he went on to say, with undeniable accuracy, that “lots and lots of people working in the NHS caring for us are all people who came from other countries”.
This, we thought, was remarkable. It’s a long time since we heard a serving leader of the Labour Party being so positive about immigration. Perhaps Mr Miliband was thinking about some recent research which shows that immigrants, if they vote, vote strongly for Labour, and he might therefore feel in a rather delicate position on the subject.
Does this mark a decisive change in rhetoric from Ed Miliband in his General Election campaign? Well, maybe – time will tell.