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By Peter Hoskin
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There
is, as Harriet Baldwin suggests, an air of humour about Michael Gove’s article
for the Telegraph
this morning. Its headline, after all, reads “Ed Miliband
is a blancmange in a hurricane”.

But
don’t miss the core of gelignite behind all the windswept gelatine: Mr Gove is
launching a serious and considered attack on the Labour leader. In fact, it satisfies
three of the weightier prescriptions in Andy
Coulson’s GQ article
from yesterday:

Expose Ed
Miliband’s weaknesses.
Is the Tory leadership going personal on Ed Miliband? To some
extent, yes: this article exists to give him a shoeing. But the personal stuff
is leavened in two ways. First, by Mr Gove’s sprightly prose, which creates a
sense of mischief more than malice. And then by the fact that the personal
attacks have a political basis. Mr Miliband is a “blancmange in a hurricane”
because he is not “clearly defined”, which is in turn because he lacks “a
programme of concrete policies”. The thing about this attack, however many times
we’ve heard it before, is that some Labour MPs may agree with it. Coupled with
Mr Miliband’s poll
ratings
, there are some who will think their leader is a drag on their
party’s chances, not a boon for them.

Sell the
Coalition’s good work.
Labour’s lack of concrete policies is here set of against the
Coalition’s own, rather rich, record. As Mr Gove himself puts it:

“Contrast
this with a Government – and PM – that has reduced the deficit, made the tax
system more competitive, reformed the welfare state, cut net migration, reduced
crime, made the NHS more efficient and compassionate, secured progress on the
EU budget, repatriated European powers, freed millions from dictatorship,
created a million new private sector jobs, presided over the largest number of
business start-ups in a 12-month period in recorded history, restored rigour to
GCSEs and A-levels, created 2,000 academy schools and ensured that no one on
benefits earns more than the average wage.”

We
are now, as I’ve said
before
, in the phase of Government when the incumbents cannot just blame
the last lot, but must also point to achievements that have already been made,
and those that are yet to come.

Sow division
where you can.
In GQ, Mr Coulson advised the Tory leadership to aggravate any tension
between Eds Miliband and Balls. There’s a touch of that in Mr Gove’s article –
he talks of “Miliband’s passivity in the face of his shadow chancellor’s
operating style” – but he goes further in pointing out wider divisions in the
Labour Party. Halfway through the article, he writes “there are substantial
figures in Labour’s ranks who are capable of fleshing out worthwhile
alternative courses,” before adding, “But, at the moment, they are on the
margins.” And, at its end, he names names: “Jon Cruddas and Maurice Glasman are gifted,
fascinating thinkers, but are held in scorn by Balls and the Brownite
restorationists.”

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