I attended a public event at the London School of Economics this evening with speaker Mehdi Hasan discussing his new book ‘Ed: The Milibands and the making of a Labour leader’, co-authored with James Macintyre.

It’s a good thing that Mehdi touched on gossip and hearsay being taken as gospel for I only knew of the New Statesman Political Editor through Twitter and even then chiefly through less than complimentary comments from Guido Fawkes and Harry Cole etc. So I was surprised, delighted and a little bit embarrassed that Mehdi put on such a captivating, intelligent, insightful and humorous performance for the full 90 minutes. He certainly avoided the twin perils that these political events often risk of the main speaker being either too nervous or too up themselves for it to be an enjoyable performance.

Mehdi even managed to cover himself in glory with his analysis of Scotland when it was inevitably raised from the floor, an area that he freely admitted he wasn’t an expert in. Mehdi suggested that the Labour leader needs a bit of Salmond’s directness and confidence and noted that Ed’s assertion that Holyrood 2011 would be a springboard to success at Westminster betrayed his misunderstandings surrounding devolved politics north of the border (in more ways than one).

Don’t get me wrong, there were imperfections. The preamble talked of Ed Miliband’s ‘unique upbringing’ before discussing how the Labour leader went to the same school, studied the same subject at the same university, joined the same Labour party, went off to work for an MP etc etc, as his older brother. The upbringing wasn’t even unique with his own family let alone the wider world.

However, my real bone of contention amidst the mirth and merriment was Mehdi’s early and repeated assertion that Ed Miliband’s performance over the past 7-10 days may end up being his equivalent of Tony Blair’s Clause IV moment.

The weakness of this position, and indeed Ed’s, was laid out soon after as Mehdi talked of the anger with which Ed’s team directed Mehdi’s way upon learning that this book would be serialised in the Mail on Sunday. Now, how can Ed be a hero in facing up to the News of the World while begrudging an independent journalist serialising his unoffical biography in a certain newspaper?

With that evidence to go on alone, I’m not convinced that Ed Miliband wants the distance between politics and the media that he currently claims.

Anyway, the wider question as to what this hacking scandal will do for Ed Miliband’s prospects is surely undecided and, if positive, is not even really of Ed’s doing. Polling results may well show a bump for the Labour leader in the coming days but that will be more to do with Cameron’s shooting himself in the foot in hiring Coulson and Clegg’s continued ignominy rather than anything Ed has done. A Labour leader that is lowest in the popularity stakes while his party is riding high in the 40+%s is coming from a long, long way behind.

The chief arguments that Mehdi made were that Ed was quickest to call for an enquiry and the quickest to call for Rebekah Brooks to resign. The former is accurate but surely carries little credit for Ed. Nick Davies has completed some incredible journalism for the Guardian amidst this hacking scandal and, consequently, has indirectly rolled a square ball across the six yard line that even Wallace or Gromit could knock into the back of the net, let alone Ed Miliband.

A Clause IV moment involves bravely insisting and delivering something that 80% of your public is against, not calling for something that 80% of your public is already in favour of.

In calling for Rebekah Brooks’ resignation, Ed is hardly blazing a trail there and is probably stepping outside his mandate as a politician. We can have an opinion over who a private company should or should not employ but at the end of the day we have much say over which journalists they employ as, say, which footballer a football club selects.

Indeed, has Ed done anything that goes against public opinion since he became leader? He’s barely reached Clause I, II or III, let alone IV. He took a very weak position on the trade union discussion to the point of anonymity, he has depressingly suggested that the unemployed should lose out on Social Housing and he leapt to the right of Cameron and called for Ken Clarke to resign at the first opportunity. The only area that Ed should be populist on, the economy and the cuts, is the one area where he is most silent, preferring to worry about this strange group ‘the squeezed middle’ than those who are really losing out.

One possible candidate for an Ed Miliband ‘Clause IV’ moment is the proposed scrapping of rules that dictate how his Shadow Cabinet will look, a reasonable move that gives Ed more freedom but still not really comparable with Tony Blair’s staring down the unions.

Not that Ed Miliband needs to outdo any leader that has gone before him, comparisons were made to Neil Kinnock last night even. It is a constraint that Lib Dem and Tory leaders manage to avoid, having to endure your leadership being compared with one predecessor or another. ‘Let Miliband be Miliband’ is a line that Ed himself has used before and, for me, is the Labour leader’s simplest route to success. Slim down the PR team, forget about old-skool repetitive answers, don’t worry about finding something as distracting as an unnecessary Clause IV moment, give credit when credit is due to the coalition and hold your line as a centre-left party that will look increasingly preferable to a coalition that is inflicting pain on a frustrated public. Above all else, don’t overreach in claiming success with small victories, like this hacking scandal which in reality Ed is but a bit-part player in.

Mehdi Hasan gave many reasons for supporters of Ed Miliband, and his well-wishers (of which I include myself), to be cheerful. A key line from the evening, allowing for paraphrasing, was ‘you can’t learn what he can do, and he can learn what he can’t’ meaning that robo-answers and wooden TV performances can be fixed and, when added to Ed’s passion, policies and performance potential, could make for a powerful politician. Blair and Cameron were laughed off as lightweights when they first got going and look at them now.

Curiously though, and to lend a green-tinged ending to this little review, for a Labour leader that rose to prominence as an Environment Secretary and an envoy to Copenhagen, climate change barely got a mention as Ed’s route to success. We have had Red Ed, Blue Ed and now Clause IV Ed (apparently), but Green Ed seemingly doesn’t win elections and, if the Labour leader continues hius early tradition of not following public opinion rather than leading it, I suspect a dramatic push for more action on climate change won’t be Ed Miliband’s Clause IV moment either.