By Bob Duncan
Labour leader Ed Miliband has compared himself to Margaret Thatcher, whom he described as a ‘conviction politician’, and said he wanted an economic shake-up similar to that of the former Tory Prime Minister.
According to the Sun newspaper, Miliband, who replaced Gordon Brown as leader of the Labour party, said there was a “big parallel” between his and Mrs Thatcher’s terms as opposition leaders.
Mr Miliband also criticised his predecessor, saying of Gordon Brown, “he didn’t have a clear enough sense about how he wanted to take the country forward.”
This apparent move to the right matches that of Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont, who last month set up a so-called “Cuts Commission” to examine the affordability of universal benefits. At the same time, it was announced that she would begin attending shadow cabinet meetings in London.
Miliband’s comments reinforce similar comments he made prior to replacing Brown. Before being elected leader, Miliband told the Daily Telegraph: “On a number of things, there are differences between us and the Tories, but on certain areas there are no differences between us, and I don’t think you should make them up.
“People don’t like pretending there are big differences when there aren’t. I think it’s a good thing that the Tories have embraced social issues more than they did a few years ago.”
Mr Miliband’s comments were seized on by the SNP who claimed that Labour had now lost its soul.
Commenting, SNP MSP Kenneth Gibson said:
“The Labour Party already has one Tory pin-up in Johann Lamont, whose Cuts Commission is out to roll back the achievements of devolution.
“But for Ed Miliband to say that he wants to be compared to Thatcher says it all about the current direction of a Labour Party which has completely lost its soul.
“Of course, Mr Miliband has previously said that there are no 'big differences' between Labour and the Tories – so these comments should come as no surprise.
“Given that Johann Lamont now attends Labour’s UK Shadow Cabinet meetings, the question is was Ms Lamont consulted and does she approve of Mr Miliband trying to become yet another Tory pin-up?”
Bizarrely, Mr Miliband's praise for Mrs Thatcher as a "conviction politician" is identical to comments made by Gordon Brown in 2007, when the then Labour leader and PM said: "I also admire the fact that she is a conviction politician ... I am a conviction politician like her."
Despite authoring a book in 1989, entitled: "Where there is greed: Margaret Thatcher and the betrayal of Britain's future", Mr Brown invited the former Tory PM to tea at Downing street in September 2007 when he was PM.
Meanwhile, Labour were dealt a blow after it emerged Ed Miliband is now more unpopular in Scotland than Tory Prime Minister David Cameron, as new approval ratings pile even more misery on the anti-independence parties.
The latest YouGov poll gives Cameron a net score of minus 37, Miliband minus 40 and Nick Clegg a dismal minus 62.
The Scottish leaders of the unionist parties fare no better.
When asked the question “Which one of the following people do you think would be best at standing up for Scotland's interests?”, Scottish responses were: