The Tories want to brand Miliband as "weak". But McBride presents him as strong

Damian McBride's account of Miliband's political ruthlessness in his new book doesn't suit the Tories' narrative.

The Tories have long counted down the days until the serialisation of Damian McBride's memoir in the Daily Mail in the hope that it will provide them with plentiful ammunition to hurl at Ed Milband in the run-up to Labour conference. But judging by the extracts published today, it could prove less helpful than they'd hoped. 

If there is one word that David Cameron has sought to associate with Miliband in recent months it is "weak". But rather than a feeble, spineless character, the Miliband who emerges from the pages of Power Trip is a strong and ruthless figure. Here are three notable examples from today's extracts. 

1. McBride confirms that Miliband "effectively threatened to resign from the cabinet" over the planned third runway at Heathrow, a move that successfully torpedoed the policy. He adds that Ed Balls was angry that Brown "had been made to look weak" in front of his cabinet by "having to kowtow to a supposed ally". The story of how Miliband defied the PM and his political patron hardly suits the Tory narrative. 

2. We are also reminded of how Miliband dared to stand against his brother, long considered Brown's heir apparent, for the Labour leadership. That might not seem significant but the Tories have recently stopped referring to how Miliband "knifed" his brother out of fear that it undermines their framing of him as "weak".

McBride also writes insightfully about how Miliband's loyalty to his father's socialist ideals may have prompted him to run against David:

It’s hard to listen to any of Ed Miliband’s occasionally tortured, over-academic speeches without hearing his father’s voice, especially when he talks about recasting the capitalist model and re-shaping society through the empowerment of ordinary people. 

And that’s not just about Ed’s politics; it’s also undoubtedly central to how he explains to himself and to the rest of his family why he challenged his older brother for the Labour leadership.

What better reason than needing to achieve his father’s vision and ensure David Miliband did not traduce it? An act of supposed disloyalty to his brother becomes transformed in his mind into the ultimate act of tribute to his father.

3. At PMQs in 2012, David Cameron mocked Miliband over claims in the Daily Mail that he used to fetch coffees for Ed Balls when the pair were both Treasury advisers to Gordon Brown. He said: "Apparently, he still has to bring him the coffee. That's just how assertive and butch the leader of the opposition really is."

This fits with the Tory narrative of Miliband as a put-upon junior to Balls, Brown's star pupil (a relationship, they suggest, that is unchanged). But McBride scotches this account: 

At the Treasury, the two Eds were a double act. The idea Miliband was ever made to feel subordinate to Balls is baloney, along with the myth of him bringing Balls his morning coffee.

Ed Miliband delivers his speech on reforming the Labour-trade union link at The St Bride Foundation in London on 9 July 2013. Photograph: Getty Images.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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Iain Duncan Smith says what most Brexiters think: economic harm is a price worth paying

The former cabinet minister demonstrated rare candour by dismissing the "risks" of leaving the EU.

Most economists differ only on whether the consequences of Brexit would be merely bad or terrible. For the Leave campaign this presents a problem. Every referendum and general election in recent times has been won by the side most trusted to protect economic growth (a status Remain currently enjoys).

Understandably, then, the Brexiters have either dismissed the forecasters as wrong or impugned their integrity. On Tuesday it was the turn of the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS), one of the most revered bodies in Westminster. In response to its warning that Brexit would mean a further two years of austerity (with the hit to GDP wiping out George Osborne's forecast surplus), the Leave campaign derided it as a "paid-up propaganda arm of the European commission" (the IFS has received £5.6m from Brussels since 2009). 

The suggestion that the organisation is corrupt rightly provoked outrage. "The IFS - for whom I used to work - is not a paid up propaganda arm of the EU. I hope that clears that up," tweeted Brexit-supporting economist Andrew Lilico. "Over-simplified messaging, fear-mongering & controversialism are hard-minded campaigning. Accusing folk of corruption & ill intent isn't." The Remain campaign was swift to compile an array of past quotes from EU opponents hailing the IFS. 

But this contretemps distracted from the larger argument. Rather than contesting the claim that Brexit would harm the economy, the Leave campaign increasingly seeks to change the subject: to immigration (which it has vowed to reduce) or the NHS (which it has pledged to spend more on). But at an event last night, Iain Duncan Smith demonstrated rare candour. The former work and pensions secretary, who resigned from the cabinet in protest at welfare cuts, all but conceded that further austerity was a price worth paying for Brexit. 

"Of course there's going to be risks if you leave. There's risks if you get up in the morning ...There are risks in everything you do in life," he said when questioned on the subject. "I would rather have those risks that we are likely to face, headed off by a government elected by the British people [and] governing for the British people, than having a government that is one of 27 others where the decisions you want to take - that you believe are best for the United Kingdom - cannot be taken because the others don't agree with you."

For Duncan Smith, another recession is of nothing compared to the prize of freedom from the Brussels yoke. Voters still reeling from the longest fall in living standards in recent history (and who lack a safe parliamentary seat) may disagree. But Duncan Smith has offered an insight into the mindset of a true ideologue. Remain will hope that many more emulate his honesty. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.