8 May 2015

DUEMA closing statement


Friends. It is almost five years since DUEMA was founded. You might remember, or perhaps not, that the Don’t Underestimate Ed Miliband Association was established to make the case that the then newly elected Labour leader was not quite as much of an electoral liability as everyone was saying.

In 2010, in the minutes after he was elected rather than his brother David, it became clear to me (and several other desperate hacks seeking something counter-intuitive to say) that there was room for DUEMA in our national conversation.

Wasn’t the Ed Miliband I had encountered down the years an amusing, quick-witted and grounded individual? Hell, yes! He was ruthless too and he had the makings of an interesting (interesting, not necessarily correct) critique of big business. He was a decent man who deserved to be taken seriously. That was our view. The then Foreign Secretary William Hague was a secret member of DUEMA.

In my defence, even as a co-founder of DUEMA – and an admirer of Miliband’s persistence in the face of public ridicule – I criticised him frequently on the grounds that his quasi-Marxist ideas would destroy private enterprise, bankrupt the country and reduce Britain to ruins.

But as late as last night, at one minute to ten, just before the exit poll came out showing Miliband had been trounced, disappointed Conservative friends were telling me that DUEMA had been right all along and that Ed Miliband had fought a much better campaign than David Cameron. Now the results are in, and the Tories have a majority, one hears less of this view.

Here I must stress that the founding articles of DUEMA have often been misrepresented by others in the press and broadcast media. It was never our contention that Miliband would definitely win and become Prime Minister. We noted merely that he was tougher than he looked and that he would see off challenges and fight this general election with gusto. He should not, we contended, be underestimated. In this we appear to have overestimated Ed Miliband.

Of course, DUEMA has had a lot of ups and downs since the exciting birth of our great organisation five years ago. It has not been easy. Several of my co-founders and fellow commentators resigned, or tried to pretend they had never been involved. At one point we filed for intellectual bankruptcy. There was a period in which we may have been trading while technically insolvent, and then we went into Chapter 11 last autumn.

There was a sudden late surge in the share price on election day when the final polls showed a swing to Labour. But it seems that those in the markets were acting on imperfect information. In other words, the pollsters had managed to get it even more wrong than DUEMA and all the pundits who were relying on the polls.

Now, today, events have taken a course not entirely favourable to the long-term prospects of DUEMA. It is clear that Miliband has lost the general election quite spectacularly and he has resigned. His party is left facing an identity crisis so severe that his colleagues cannot even agree on what kind of identity crisis it is.

Let me be clear… I’m very proud of what we’ve achieved (not much) at DUEMA. But in these testing times it is absolutely right that we now close down permanently.

I want to thank all of you who have taken a close interest in the work of the Don’t Underestimate Ed Miliband Association, whether that involved emailing me or tweeting me to ask how DUEMA was going when Mili E had committed some horrendous blunder, or bringing up the subject at lunch, or even asking me about it on television or radio.

It has been fun. Now, that Dan Jarvis is worth a look as next Labour leader. Don’t write him off….

Iain Martin is Editor of CapX.