Recovery always makes for a great story. Coming back from the dead. Upsetting the odds. Remaking yourself. The lows in this business can be permanent. ‘He never recovered from...’ ‘She became a pastiche of herself…’ But there is also a good reason why the thick skin and selfconfidence, essential qualities in a politician, are not simple expressions of vanity. Those qualities let you cope when you’re written off, dismissed as a no-hoper, a nobody. It can all be worth it because politics allows you to get up off the ground and still reach the top. Look at Lyndon Johnson, miserable and under-used as vice president under JFK. The latest volume of Robert Caro’s epic work on Johnson’s life has reached Britain and is getting the political addicts in a state of delirious excitement. We all know what fate had in store for the big Texan. In fact, less than five years later, after unexpectedly becoming the 36th US president, Johnson had already managed to fit enough into his presidential term to hit another low. But look in awe at his domestic record in power. Ed Miliband is obviously not Lyndon Johnson. But he’s now showing signs of recovery from his own low. It is an incomplete process and his party is taking an uneven approach to opposing the coalition government. Reading Jim Pickard’s essential cover profile of the Labour leader on p56, you pick up the hesitations and consensus-hunting that gets in the way of Miliband becoming a forceful alternative prime minister. However, with the government having had a poor spring, the idea of Ed Miliband in No 10 is being taken more seriously. But you’ll understand his contradictions, and the work he has left to do, from Jim’s superb piece. Talking about recovery, how relaxed does Andrew Lansley look in our interview on p52? Good god, he’s beaming. A chilled-out, confident health secretary is now looking forward to what he really enjoys – putting his reforms into practice. Of course, those reshuffle rumours still swirl around him but it’s quite some change from a couple of months ago.
en Duckworth • Editor | email@example.com
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4 | June 2012 | Total Politics