An aside. Apparently EdM confided all this to Winter, who has kept his counsel for seven-and-a-bit years until the pre-election period came round. According to the piece Winter has grown disillusioned with Miliband and says of him "He is ignorant of the real values of ordinary working class voters and holds his nose at their lifestyle." By giving the vilest shit sheet in the land a front page and providing succour to the Tories, some might say Winter is equally as ignorant. He might want to look 'scabbing' up, for instance.
Did Ed Miliband say what he's alleged to have said? Who knows. Off the record usually means off the cuff. Nor is there anything particularly cynical about the observation. If you want to win in politics it's best that you choose the ground you're going to fight on, and undeniably had Brown not bottled the election that never was Labour would have walked it. Also, do recall that no one in Westminsterland and the media cocoon spun around it was talking about an economic catastrophe in the offing. There's no evidence either of the two Eds possessed an insight lacking among professional economists, city slickers, and those who track such things.
What Labour needs to pick up on quickly is this heralds a new wave of personal attacks heading the leader's way. For years we've had the weird/weak Ed meme and still Labour are in electoral contention. As Dave would rather be branded a coward than face Ed in a debate, the "weak" lines are going to be rested for the time being. Instead, the Tories are going after what are perceived by the electorate as his strengths. Poll after poll shows that, as a whole, people think Ed is a nice, genuine bloke who empathises and cares about those less fortunate than he. Lynton Crosby's job is to turn this around. Instead of cuddly Wallace, the Tories are trying to colour him Skeletor. They want to portray him as an inept, scheming manipulator whose veins run cold with the ice blood of cynicism. Another classic case of Tory projection.
Think about it. Osborne provided The Mail some words: "This first-hand account shows Balls and Miliband were more interested in saving their own skins than saving the British economy." And this line bears some resemblance to the "weaponising the NHS" teacup storm Dave spent time trying to whip up last week, again designed to show Labour up as a cynical exploiter of the NHS than a party ideologically and genuinely wedded to it. And, to a lesser extent - though a bridge too far for even the stretched credulity on which so much official politics hangs - Dave attempted to claim Ed's calls for the PM's participation in the leaders' debates was a cynical way of avoiding facing the Greens' Natalie Bennett. Yeah, I had to scratch my head a few times too.
We're going to see more of this. Cynical Ed. Calculating Ed. Even perhaps Sinister Ed. Oh what a joy British politics is.