By Paul Goodman
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At least, that's the only sense to be made of Labour's selection of John O'Farrell – "The Joke Candidate" – to fight the Eastleigh by-election.
Miliband had a strategic choice in the Hampshire seat:
- To try not to take votes from the LibDems, run a campaign so low-profile as to be almost invisible – and boost Nick Clegg's chances of winning the seat, thus turning up the heat under David Cameron.
- To try to take votes from the LibDems, pick a high-profile candidate who may well do so – and harm Clegg's chances of winning the seat, thus turning down the heat under Cameron and giving him a bit of a breather.
You don't have to be a brain surgeon to conclude that, by making choice b), the Labour leader has made the wrong decision. I thus agree with hired Miliband contract killer Dan Hodges.
It would be a big mistake to write the Labour leader off as completely clueless, but there are times when I almost yield to the temptation…