I bumped into Ed Miliband in Parliament the other day. He greeted me with a warm hello and we stopped to chat for a while about recent events. We’ve always got on, and it was good to see him looking very well. I said so, and he admitted that there had been many changes in his professional life, which struck me as an understatement, but that life was treating him well.

We touched on various matters, but the most impressive thing about Ed’s comments were those he made about his work. For example, I invited him to appear on a radio programme which I present, and Ed responded immediately, courteously declining. He told me he was staying away from that kind of thing at the moment, and focussing instead on the issues which he cared about – and which he wanted to make a real difference in.

I was impressed. Ed wasn’t saying this to look good or to generate any kind of admiration. He obviously really meant it. Even after all the hassles of leading his party and having to endure all the very public disappointments of the General Election, Mr Miliband had lost none of his campaigning zeal. Since he has nothing to prove – he’s been Leader of the Opposition after all – I don’t doubt his sincerity.

In my view, this reflects the difference between the inaccurate perception of him as portrayed in the media, and the mettle of the real Ed Miliband. Even before May 7th, I frequently expressed my view that Ed was being given an unfairly hard time by journalists who seemed to delight in making him look weak or clumsy.

I suppose that’s part of the cost of doing business in our rather aggressive and insensitive political system. It seems to be acceptable to ‘run people down,’ regardless of the justification of such commentary. I suspect this feature of politics probably puts some good people off standing altogether.

As Ed and I ended our chat, I could see he accepts what’s gone on without bitterness and embraces the future with optimism. He’s a decent bloke, and I’m proud to know him. It’s a pity so many others refuse to salute his positive thinking – prefering to portray him as a ‘cardboard cut-out caricature’ of the person he really is. I wonder what kind of politics we’d have if we valued inclusiveness and empathy. The thing is, we don’t and that will not change anytime soon. All the same, Ed is certainly doing more good to society than the scribblers who never gave him a chance.

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