Sorry but Ed Miliband was terrible on Newsnight
The “what about the Londoners” Mansion Tax argument shouldn’t be a hard one. Rich people, who choose to live in London, just like anyone else who “chooses” to live in London, will be hit by the fact that property is expensive in London. That’s the price you pay for choosing to live in London. That’s what we say about everyone else, whether they’re unemployed, on low wages, or on more-or-less average wages. “I’m not rich, I just choose to live in a £2m house in one of the most expensive cities in the world” is not a convincing argument. At all.
Myleene Klass sounded good to a lot of people making such a daft argument because those people didn’t expect her to be so articulate, which is probably not unrelated to the fact that she’s a very conventionally attractive woman and she’s famous for singing pop songs and popping up in M&S adverts. She had the advantage of surprise.
Ed Miliband is a potential future prime minister. He should be able to respond, articulately and convincingly, to a rich person saying basically “I don’t like paying tax.” Of course he should. It’s absolutely fair to say that Myleene Klass “wiped the floor” with Miliband and “gave him a pasting.” The fact that her arguments were superficial and self-serving makes that worse for him. “I missed the ball but in my defence it should have been an easy hit” is not a very good defence.
This really gets to the crux of Ed Miliband’s problem. A lot of people genuinely think he’s right on key issues. A lot of people believe he more or less has a good heart and is an intelligent man. People know he can give good, long speeches when he needs to, and people know that the Tory party’s policies have been found to worsen the wealth divide in Britain. What people are nervous about is his ability to hold his own in a debate or a negotiation, and command leadership. I am not saying Ed Miliband doesn’t have these abilities, but to leap all over Myleene Klass for winning the argument, an argument Miliband really, really should have won, feels like a bit of misdirected frustration. I’m not saying it isn’t kind of amusing to set up a petition to help Myleene Klass pay her mansion tax and make fun of her ridiculous assertion that you’re somehow hard done by if you can only afford a couple of million pounds to buy – to buy! – a house in London because oh my god horror of horrors it might be kind of small, but it’s not Myleene Klass’s fault political debate has sunk so low that Newsnight brings her on talk about tax (instead of some boring old fart like, say, a tax expert). Nor is it her fault that the leader of her majesty’s opposition turned into a rabbit in the headlights when confronted with one of the major economic questions of the day. The reason the interview was annoying and embarrassing to watch was nothing to do with Myleene Klass being useless – it was entirely because of Ed Miliband.