Posted 25 Sep 2014 by Walaa Idris
You know the saying ‘behind every great man there is a great woman’? It might be an old fashioned way of giving women, particularly wives, some kudos. But to me it says most great people have someone or some people behind the scenes making them look great and perform well. That applies to everyone in the limelight and frontline, public facing professions.
More so in politics, particularly for party leaders: they might be charismatic and great orators, but that only works as far as attracting people’s attention. Carving out and delivering a good message, saying the right thing at the right time, anticipating questions and having the right responses at hand – and that being ready, unflustered, unrehearsed and spontaneous – all comes from having a well-oiled operation behind the scenes. These people are busy as bees gathering and readying, having at hand all vital and necessary information, making sure no small detail is overlooked.
To get an idea of how, I recommend watching the TV series The West Wing – thought it’s fiction – it gives a good insight to how many men and women it takes to keep a nation’s leader in check and fully briefed on every major and minor detail.
That brings me to Labour, Miliband, his team and their lack of attention to basic details!
I get that Mr Miliband enjoys speaking from the heart and have a conversation with the public, I really get it. But this week, by the end of his conference speech it was very clear he missed or forgot to speak about immigration, the deficit and most importantly the economy. His team should have anticipated questions arising from that and readied their leader with responses. After all it was his last conference speech before the May general election. That was his platform and opportunity to tell the nation why next conference he should be addressing them as the Prime Minister. Particularly, as George Osborne – who clearly was following the speech live – immediately tweeted about Miliband forgetting to mention the economy!
This is the job of the support staff. It’s their responsibility to watch the speech and fill in the gaps for the after speech dissection. After the conference walkabout and the hand shaking, the leader of the opposition’s team should have taken him backstage before facing any media questions and prepared him on the reactions to the speech. Plus, for uniformity the same should have happen with all key members of the frontbench. But clearly that did not happen! And don’t think for a second that all these reporters and network presenters don’t do the same. They too have their busy bees backstage preparing them for instant reaction, via earpieces.
Being prepared is not that same as ‘being unnatural’. It’s just being ready by having important information at hand for when it’s needed. Because information is power and relinquishing it is relinquishing that power.
This week the Labour Party and Miliband did just that, they relinquished their power.
And that made Miliband and his frontbench look and sound like amateurs. You can’t say you’ll cut the state pension without knowing how much the current basic pension actually is! You can’t promise to increase spending without talking about the economy, or addressing the current deficit. You can’t fend off UKIP while totally ignoring immigration. Simply put, you cannot become Prime Minister without a good, trusted, serious team behind you who can see beyond the obvious, anticipate the unknown and prepare you for every eventuality.
We’re a little over seven months away form a general election and Miliband can’t even see the country is on the brink of a war and might send troops to fight in Iraq. He insults war heroes by refusing to wear a simple band to support them. Not because he is anti-war, but because the last time he took a photo with The Sun newspaper he timed it wrong and it backfired. Guess what? This time his timing is again wrong and it’s backfired, again!
Politics is tough. And with instant responses, a 24/7 news cycle, and social media at every fingertip, it’s a hundred times tougher than it was just a few years ago.
Miliband’s performance this week was that of a novice, who is unprepared to lead and represent Great Britain on any stage.
I mostly blame Ed Miliband’s team, his bees. Surely they saw how he ate a bacon sandwich previously, and should have advised him to make meals a private affair. They heard the speeches and read the polls and the instant reactions. They know (or should have known) what he missed, what the polls are saying and what people, presenters and reports want to hear and were going to ask. How can he manage a whole nation if he can’t even manage his own personal team?
Plus, let’s never forget this is the man that backstabbed his own brother and chased him out of the country: would anyone ever trust him to be their Prime Minister?