So, Ed Miliband is a geek. I think that’s always been fairly well-known, but the media is convinced that being “weird” in his particular way means that he unelectable (Come on, you must be a *bit* weird to be a politician, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing, so they all are IMO). The evidence is meant to be unassailable: he can’t eat a bacon sandwich, unfortunately he looks a bit like Wallace from Wallace and Gromit, he has a nasal tone of voice etc etc.
I find the narrative irritating, but the solution to his perceived personality problem even more so: his wife, Justine. The last few days have seen a flurry of articles about Ed playing the “wife card” , columns on how Leader’s Wives is no longer a derogatory term, and a long profile of Justine Thornton in the Times.
Despite the earnest attempts to dress up this accessorizing role, it remains exactly that. It’s ridiculous that Ed should seek or expect a boost because he had the good sense to marry what appears to be an accomplished, smart and beautiful woman. He is the elected official, not her. And while the role of a leader’s wife is high profile, this is not the USA. You wouldn’t know it, but we vote for parties, not presidents. It’s ridiculous to expect Justine to assume the role as a foil to Ed’s career – and I salute women like Miriam Clegg who seem to have mostly eschewed the role.
I don’t know if it reflects badly on the media for appearing to require this farce, or for the politicians for trying to use it, or we the public for buying into it (they wouldn’t do it if it didn’t work, right?)