Ed Miliband, late of the Labour leadership. Photo: Stefan Rousseau - WPA Pool /Getty Images
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The reason I liked Ed was the same reason that everyone else thought he was useless

He talked openly and knowledgeably until Peter Hitchens got on to him about cod.

Poor, dejected losers, the politicians who no longer have seats or parties to run, who must not cry. It is only human to feel sorry for them. And I do. Being sacked in public is hard.

Some of them wander around in a daze for months, when they’re not shouting at their equally dazed staff about their empty diaries. And some of them have to re-enter the world. On foot. Their drivers are taken away. There were many tales in 1997 of silly Tories trying to get on the Tube and having no idea how to buy a ticket. Vince Cable will have a Freedom Pass, at least.

Ed’s “Hell, yes, I’m tough enough” statement is now reduced to being one of my 14-year-old’s favourite Vines – a Vine for an epitaph.

I did like him when I met him, years ago. He was smart, funny – sweet, even. But the main reason I liked him was the reason that other people didn’t. He talked openly and knowledgeably until Peter Hitchens, whom I am extremely fond of, got on to one of his issues. Peter’s “issues” require an entire tome but that night it was EU fishing policy.

This is the kind of subject that simply induces me to fall into a trance but Peter savaged Ed Miliband about stocks of cod. Ed said something like, “I don’t know much about this but I will go and find out.”

That impressed me – a politician admitting that he didn’t know something – but everyone else concluded then and there that he was useless. I remember saying, “I think he will be somebody in the Labour Party.” That the thing he would be was the leader never entered my head.

I liked the way he listened and considered things. When I banged into him very late at night in a bar, I asked him how he stayed up so late and got up so early. It’s not as if I expected him to pull out a wrap of anything illicit (although he does have that blissed-out look, on occasion). It’s more that I can’t understand how so many of them stay loved-up on the process: on the inner workings of the party.

But they’re different from us. We had an audience with David that year, too, and he was more important. My editor’s suite was at the top of the Hilton in Manchester. Four TVs, leather loungers, chrome. Loads of remote controls. Totally Footballers’ Wives decor. The guys were uncomfortable.

“What is that, Suzanne?” one of them asked me, pointing at the table. It was a flower arrangement. The unlikeliest forms of modernity frightened my colleagues.

In bounded David Miliband, wary, angular and media-trained to the hilt. Lots of first names, looking straight into your eyes, the weird handshake or semi-grope thing they do.

Everyone agreed that he wanted power. None of us then had any idea Ed would take that from him. 

Suzanne Moore is a writer for the Guardian and the New Statesman. She writes the weekly “Telling Tales” column in the NS.

This article first appeared in the 14 May 2015 issue of the New Statesman, The Tory triumph

Steve Garry
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The footie is back. Three weeks in and what have we learned so far?

Barcleys, boots and big names... the Prem is back.

Another season, another reason for making whoopee cushions and giving them to Spurs fans to cheer them up during the long winter afternoons ahead. What have we learned so far?

Big names are vital. Just ask the manager of the Man United shop. The arrival of Schneiderlin and Schweinsteiger has done wonders for the sale of repro tops and they’ve run out of letters. Benedict Cumberbatch, please join Carlisle United. They’re desperate for some extra income.

Beards are still in. The whole Prem is bristling with them, the skinniest, weediest player convinced he’s Andrea Pirlo. Even my young friend and neighbour Ed Miliband has grown a beard, according to his holiday snaps. Sign him.

Boots Not always had my best specs on, but here and abroad I detect a new form of bootee creeping in – slightly higher on the ankle, not heavy-plated as in the old days but very light, probably made from the bums of newborn babies.

Barclays Still driving me mad. Now it’s screaming from the perimeter boards that it’s “Championing the true Spirit of the Game”. What the hell does that mean? Thank God this is its last season as proud sponsor of the Prem.

Pitches Some groundsmen have clearly been on the weeds. How else can you explain the Stoke pitch suddenly having concentric circles, while Southampton and Portsmouth have acquired tartan stripes? Go easy on the mowers, chaps. Footballers find it hard enough to pass in straight lines.

Strips Have you seen the Everton third kit top? Like a cheap market-stall T-shirt, but the colour, my dears, the colour is gorgeous – it’s Thames green. Yes, the very same we painted our front door back in the Seventies. The whole street copied, then le toot middle classes everywhere.

Scott Spedding Which international team do you think he plays for? I switched on the telly to find it was rugby, heard his name and thought, goodo, must be Scotland, come on, Scotland. Turned out to be the England-France game. Hmm, must be a member of that famous Cumbrian family, the Speddings from Mirehouse, where Tennyson imagined King Arthur’s Excalibur coming out the lake. Blow me, Scott Spedding turns out to be a Frenchman. Though he only acquired French citizenship last year, having been born and bred in South Africa. What’s in a name, eh?

Footballers are just so last season. Wayne Rooney and Harry Kane can’t score. The really good ones won’t come here – all we get is the crocks, the elderly, the bench-warmers, yet still we look to them to be our saviour. Oh my God, let’s hope we sign Falcao, he’s a genius, will make all the difference, so prayed all the Man United fans. Hold on: Chelsea fans. I’ve forgotten now where he went. They seek him here, they seek him there, is he alive or on the stairs, who feckin’ cares?

John Stones of Everton – brilliant season so far, now he is a genius, the solution to all of Chelsea’s problems, the heir to John Terry, captain of England for decades. Once he gets out of short trousers and learns to tie his own laces . . .

Managers are the real interest. So refreshing to have three young British managers in the Prem – Alex Neil at Norwich (34), Eddie Howe at Bournemouth (37) and that old hand at Swansea, Garry Monk, (36). Young Master Howe looks like a ball boy. Or a tea boy.

Mourinho is, of course, the main attraction. He has given us the best start to any of his seasons on this planet. Can you ever take your eyes off him? That handsome hooded look, that sarcastic sneer, the imperious hand in the air – and in his hair – all those languages, he’s so clearly brilliant, and yet, like many clever people, often lacking in common sense. How could he come down so heavily on Eva Carneiro, his Chelsea doctor? Just because you’re losing? Yes, José has been the best fun so far – plus Chelsea’s poor start. God, please don’t let him fall out with Abramovich. José, we need you.

Hunter Davies is a journalist, broadcaster and profilic author perhaps best known for writing about the Beatles. He is an ardent Tottenham fan and writes a regular column on football for the New Statesman.

This article first appeared in the 27 August 2015 issue of the New Statesman, Isis and the new barbarism