on 27 August 2011
Most biographies of newly-elected party leaders fall into the trap of being gushing hagiographies by star struck admirers , (I am old enough to remember some of the early biographies of Margaret Thatcher, which read like the biographies of medieval saints -with the godhead emerging from the woman as the story reaches its climax.)or (like many of the early Tony Blair biographies)- they make a number of factual errors.
This book does not fall into these traps.the authors are broadly supportive of Ed Milliband, but are willing to criticise him.they have done their research and make few factual errors.their style is accessible and readable ,even if you are not a political geek, you will find the book interesting.
I found the book particularly strong on Millibands family backgound and his time as a cabinet minister under Gordon Brown.
Of course , at this stage in his career- this can only be an interim assessment of Ed Milliband. His performance over the phone hacking scandal bore out the biographies main theme that Milliband is not quite the dud that the tabloid press thought -and hoped he was.
However, he is by no means a "Prime Minister-in -waiting " yet and the road to Downing Street may be long and hard , with no guarantee the destination will ever be reached.
I approached this book with some trepidation: I am a member of the Labour Party, a David supporter and I wanted to know what make Ed Miliband tick. My doubt concerned the prospect of the first biography being anything other than propaganda, either pro or anti Ed.
This book does not fall into this trap and is a worthwhile read. It tries very hard to be scrupulously fair to both parties and is as near the truth as we are likely to get. This does not mean that it provides all the answers; indeed, I would be more sceptical were it to promise so to do.
Ed is portrayed as the quieter, more thoughtful and more people orientated of the Milibands. He is obviously clever and willing to listen to others: of course, a strength can also be a weakness. As the Leader of the Labour Party, Ed should be leading from the front. He is not. His first action was to take two weeks paternity leave and, whilst I fully support the idea of a father being around for the early days of his prodigy's life, the timing was, to say the least, unfortunate. Even upon his return, Ed's approach seems to have been more, "So, what do you think?", than, "Here's what we'll do!"
The only clear message coming from Ed is that we need to ditch New Labour. For the first time in history, Labour won three elections in a row but, one defeat and everything must go. Why is this a leftist attitude? One does not see a defeated Tory leader say, "Right, we had better jettison the rich because we lost the last election."
The big question that this book fails to answer, but which I suspect will never receive a full response is, why did Ed decide to take on his brother, David? The, unproven, answer seems to be that Ed has spent his life following David to the same schools and universities and, for once, he wanted to beat David to the prize. On a personal level, that is great and well done Ed but, he seems to have genuinely not appreciated that in so doing, he was destroying his brother's career. Of more pertinence to the general public, the other problem is that Ed seems to have concentrated upon getting the post but have no idea as to what to do once there. Tony Blair announced his intention to scrap clause four of the Labour Party constitution almost before the votes were counted; Ed has said, "Er...."
The only part of this work that really irritated me was the description of the actual contest. If this book is to be believed, David was grumpy throughout in some expectation that he was to have been presented with the leadership. Were David to have behaved as boorishly as the authors suggest, it is hard to see how he ended up winning the vote of the general membership and, even less likely, the Parliamentary group, who, presumably, knew him reasonably well.
This book offers hope, to we supporters, that we have not entered another long spell of Tory rule. I fear that it may be false hope, but at least it is something to cling onto as the welfare state is slowly de-constructed.
I am writing this review as a total outsider, who is intensely interested in British politics. Blame BBC's "Democracy Live" and the UK Parliament websites. I have been watching the House of Commons debates since 2009/10, but I wanted to find out more from what I read on the political pages of the newspapers (on all sides of the political spectrum, incidentally). And, after reading "Ed", I did learn a lot about Labour Party politics as well as the selection process, which had been a bit of a mystery to me previously.
Although I recognise that the account is definitely pro-Ed, and is certainly designed to promote his credibility as party leader (with 2115 in mind), I nevertheless found the narrative compelling. I enjoyed the book immensely. The journalist/authors have included photographs (including one of the two Eds looking incredibly young); they have also used copious footnotes, admitting that because of political realities, they have had to attribute many of their sources to 'private information.' If one were to find a fault with the book, it would be in the subtitle: "The Milibands", for until the last third of the book, it is all about Ed and his considerable capabilities. His brother hardly enters the narrative until the Leadership contest.
Nevertheless, with its dynamics of interfamilial rivalry, not only within Mr Miliband's actual family but also within his political 'family', "Ed" reads like the scenario for a political thriller--or a Greek tragedy.
I simply could not put it down!
on 7 October 2012
If you're thinking you need to know a bit more about Ed Miliband having seen his most recent conference speech, which has made a good few people take him more seriously it seems, this is a good read. It won't detain you long, seems pretty well researched, and gives you what you need to know if you want to know what makes him tick. It's got three new chapters from the previous edition, which take you through the 2012 local elections and phone hacking so go for this one if you're looking for something more recent. Others have commented that the previous edition is pretty fair minded: I was surprised at how balanced this book is given that I'd expected both of the authors to be sympathetic to his point of view. It's not at all a puff piece. Worth a read, though like other Biteback books could have done with a bit more of an edit in parts.
on 25 July 2011
It is necessary to distinguish the book from its subject. Edward Miliband is noted for being 'rational, intellectual and political' according to this account, and that seems justified: it sounds as if the family talked about little but politics when most of us with children would talk about less intense things. But, to adapt another saying, what do they know of politics who only politics know? And Mr Miliband has only been outside the political world when he took a year off to study at Harvard. He emerges as a person of no particular political persuasion but one who got where he is because of the patronage of Gordon Brown and some unshrewd canvassing by his brother and his brother's team.
The book has its minor difficulties (the MP Chuka Umunna's name is rather variable in its spelling, and there are some typos) but as a piece of contemporary history it seems to me to be a good effort. The account of the ghastly extended Labour leadership campaign in the summer of 2010 is going to be a resource for future historians. The authors approach their subject from a leftish perspective: on page 279 "Ed" has 'rightly' resisted pressure to disown Labour's appalling fiscal record in Government. The account of Mr Miliband's time in the Cabinet concentrates on his propagandising on behalf of "climate change" (when in the view of many of us he should have been securing energy sources for the future, and not pursuing policies that would harm the third world). But the authors offer a sound analysis of Mr Miliband's background and attitudes, and I felt better informed after reading this.
They make a very brief reference to Mr Miliband's to me very curious way of speaking (someone once said that he seemed to have two tongues in his mouth: I find myself concentrating on his vocalisation rather than what he is saying) and perhaps this might have figured in their analysis. But this is not a eulogy and the account of the difficulties between the Miliband brothers is very well evidenced.
I recommend the book, whatever your (and my) view of its subject.
on 17 November 2013
Ed Miliband was relatively unknown when he successfully challenged his brother for the leadership of the Labour Party. This book provides an insight into the politics of Ed Miliband as well as the breaking down of the relationship between two brothers.
on 5 December 2012
This is a serious attempt to redress the balance after all the media distortion and character assassination that has been carried out on ~Ed Milliband since he became Labour leader. I found the research painstaking and the viewof Milliband perceptive. A timely and useful ray of light on our next Prime Minister who will be tasked with cleanign up the Augean mess left by the current band of Bullingdon vandals.
on 6 May 2014
Excellent book. great in-depth look at a political figure not much is really known about. Hasan & Macintyre have really done their research and you get a really good picture of Miliband and what drives him. Fascinating accounts of his rise to leadership and when i see Miliband as leader this book really places him in context
I know that he's not everyone's' favourite person, but I don't feel any shame in writing that I do like Ed Miliband, and consider him a good man with good intentions, although not ideal leadership material for the Labour party, his brother David would probably have been the better option. I just hope that people won't thumb this review down because of this, as my comments on the 'Daily Mail' website have so frequently been.
This easy-to-read book, seemingly well researched, is fairly written without any real noticeable bias present. The bio is a good insight into Ed Miliband, his life so far, what makes this ambitious man tick, his beliefs, principles, and interests. There is a wealth of information about the background of the Miliband family, as well as a good documentation about the breakdown of the relationship between the two brothers when Ed ran for leader of the party. Do I still like Mr. Ed Miliband after reading this book? Absolutely! Don't believe all what you read in the newspapers, I have always known that the man is no fool like he is often perceived to be, and I believe this book confirms this.
After reading 'Ed: The Milibands and the making of a Labour leader', I feel as though I know a lot more about the man who will never become Prime Minister, and enjoyed my many discoveries. Congratulations to the authors James Macintyre and Mehdi Hasan for producing such a readable, informative, and worthwhile political biography.
on 28 December 2013
I learned a lot from this book. It was enlightening about Ed Miliband' s family background, both parents having escaped persecution in different countries in Europe. His growing up in a household steeped in politics led to his understanding of the need for an underlying framework of political philosophy as a background to decision making. This,I think, will stand him in good stead when events demand quick responses. The book outlined the several occasions where he has surprised us with strong,courageous stands against powerful interests. I found it an enjoyable and fascinating read.