Why? Why? Why? After holding it together for five weeks, UK Labour and Team Miliband lost it, lost it big time. Revealing that they had a great new way to guarantee keeping their promises, Ed Miliband unveiled — I can barely type this — a mock of an up eight-foot stone tablet listing five key promises. Ed promised … my fingers are curling away from the keyboard … that a stone version of this would be established in the garden of No. 10 Downing Street, were he to become prime minister.

#Edstone, as it quickly came to be known on Twitter, came days after Miliband appeared to have pulled off the Russell Brand interview, the move being widely seen as a great reach-out to those beyond any medium that might have something party-political connected with it. Edstone was seen, by contrast, as right out of a The Thick Of It script — an oft-said thing, but usually an exaggeration.

This was, well, you could write the episode in your head. “Heaviest suicide note in history” (a reference to the 1983 Labour Party manifesto, the “longest suicide etc etc …”), the tombstone of Labour hopes. What if it fell on someone, someone asked? By Sunday evening it had become clear that planning permission would be required (Crikey‘s similar hold-’em-accountable stunt fit neatly under a desk).

God almighty, will we come to look at this as Labour’s “Sir Prince Philip” moment? The Tories had made a similarly ridiculous promise the day before, announcing that they would bring in a law stopping themselves from raising taxes, something that impressed idiots who don’t know how laws are made.

Was Edstone cooked up in a panic session following that move? Fair enough, if so; by this point everyone’s crazy. But how many layers did it have to get through with no one saying This.Is.Insane? Blame quickly fell on a guy named Torsten Henricson-Bell, a 32-year-old policy wonk in Red Ed’s inner-circle, who may well be buried under his greatest creation.

God almighty, it is a heavy burden. Crossing your fingers, hoping that this crowd of tight-knit Islington wonks won’t screw it up, defending them against those who say they will. Then they not only bury our hopes, they buy the plot as well. Tread lightly, because you tread on the grave of our hopes …

Peter Fray

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