Miliband not a weirdo shock, and a replacement for Merlin

My earlier post suggested that the Labour party had had a pretty dire week last week, so by way of balance here's some good news for the would-be Labour supporter.

First off is the report on Labourlist that the party has increased its membership.  Once you acknowledge Labourlist as a cheerleader for the party, it is nonetheless the case that they have produced figures that would give some cheer to Ed Miliband as he looks at a membership rise that appears to be beating the Tories (at 194,000 Labour members to just under 150,000 for the Tories).  Mind you, the Tories' Grant Shapps also claims a number of 224,000 if you include non-paying 'supporters', which seems like a very dubious calculation.  None of those figures, by the way, is particularly cheering for the parties, representing as they do somewhere around 1% of the electorate.

If that isn't enough to cheer the Labour leader, he might also want to gloat a little at the results of a Lord Ashcroft focus group poll, reported by Guido, that has most voters likening David Cameron to Dick Dastardly when asked to compare party leaders to cartoon characters.  Not that Miliband's cartoon alter ego - Elmer Fudd - is much more encouraging.

Miliband has also been doing a Q and A with younger voters, and while his answer about his life experience outside politics might have been wanting (he noted he had been a Treasury adviser and a lecturer at Harvard - lecturing about politics!), the Spectator's Isabel Hardman reports that he generally came across well.  All the more effective for being so regularly lampooned as a sub-human weirdo.

And then there are the people who "really, really, really" like Ed Miliband, which is good news for students like my school's mock election Labour candidate, who maintain that Ed Miliband is in reality a visionary and articulate leader who will wipe the floor with Cameron.  Well, it turns out Tom is not alone, as the Spectator's 'Steerpike' discovers the tweets that rave about Miliband's amazing quotes.

Finally, it seemed that Conservative Home had ventured into popular culture when I noticed the sub-heading "A replacement for Merlin - at last".  Could this be a reference to the BBC's tortuous road to finding another popular family fantasy programme, after the cancellation of "Atlantis" in only its second series?  Alas no - the Merlin in this story was a rather prosaic voter contact database, now being replaced by the less ambitiously named "Votesource".  The BBC's search presumably continues.