For all his love of American politics, Ed Miliband has not flown to Florida to watch the Republican convention. Only one member of Labour’s high command has been sent out to keep an eye on the rogues, but the rest view the gathering with humorous contempt. There is a tendency to picture the event as a political freak show where the high priests of sado-austerity are cheered on by Tea Party fruitcakes. Mr Miliband may sometimes struggle to articulate what he is for in politics, but he certainly knows what he’s against – and most of it can be embodied by the people on stage in Tampa.
But this time, Labour and the Republicans have more in common than either party would like to admit. Both have chosen relatively dull leaders, but are hoping to fight an election based on the failure of their rivals. And their opponents, David Cameron and Barack Obama, are using similar tactics: massively increasing the debt while promising (and failing) to halve the deficit within one term. They use cheery phrases (“we’re all in this together”) but govern an angry nation. For Cameron and Obama, a simple rule applies. If their next election is fought on personality, they win. If it’s fought on economics, they lose.