The claim:
“All these characterisations about ‘Red Ed’ are both tiresome and also rubbish.”
Ed Miliband MP, Labour leader, BBC One’s Andrew Marr show, 26 September 2010

Cathy Newman checks it out:
Ed Miliband’s victory was, one Blairite shadow cabinet minister told me last night, a “disaster” for Labour. The Tories are rejoicing, and one rightwing newspaper this morning called the next general election for David Cameron, five years before a vote has even been cast.

In short, everyone except Miliband junior’s supporters seems to agree that because he was propelled to the top job by the unions, the new Labour leader has vacated the centre ground of British politics. So this morning, he took to the airwaves to insist the party wouldn’t “lurch to the left” under his leadership. So, just how red is Ed?

The analysis:
50p tax rate: “I would keep the 50p rate permanently. It’s not just about reducing the deficit, it’s about fairness in our society and that’s why I’d keep the 50p tax rate, not just for a parliament.”

On the higher tax rate, Ed Miliband is clearly to the left of his main rival, his brother, who said he would keep the 50p rate only for one parliament.

Rethinking Trident: “Throughout this leadership election I have been clear that I believe the right approach is to include the decision about the replacement of Trident in the strategic defence review.”

Scrapping Trident has acquired a totemic significance for leftwingers, both in the Labour party and the Liberal Democrats. Ed Miliband doesn’t favour ditching it outright, but he doesn’t want a like-for-like replacement either. He has been known to have been in favour of a cheaper alternative, but he hasn’t yet nailed his colours to the mast on whether Britain should build new submarines or a more economical land-based alternative.

Living wage: “People shouldn’t just be paid a minimum wage of £5.80 an hour. I want to move towards a living wage of more than £7 an hour. You would make a tax cut for business conditional on them paying a living wage.”

It’s a policy you would consider left-leaning – until you realise it’s one espoused by the Conservative London Mayor Boris Johnson. He’s already increased the Capital’s living wage to £7.60 last year.

Bank bonus tax: “The right balance of maintaining the bonus tax, increasing the banking levy and introducing a new financial transactions tax can help rebalance our economy away from a reliance on financial services and raise in excess of £5bn revenue.”

Ed Miliband wrote an article for the Guardian during the leadership campaign, headlined: “I’ll make capitalism work for the people”. Sounds red enough, but it’s not just the left indulging in banker-bashing any more. Even the Conservative/Lib Dem coalition included plans for a bank levy in their power-sharing agreement.

Selling off banks: “We should look not just at selling off our stake in the banks, but at creating new financial institutions: mutuals, public-private banks.”

The coalition government wants to sell off the Treasury’s bank shares – acquired during the banking crisis – at the earliest opportunity. Ed Miliband doesn’t say he wants to keep the shares in public ownership, but he’s clearly resistant to outright privatisation.

Pay differentials: “I am calling on the government to extend its pay commission from the public sector to make it a High Pay Commission looking at the private sector as well.”

Capping high salaries sounds pretty leftwing, but surprisingly it’s a policy the two brothers share. And until we get more detail, it’s difficult to see exactly what he expects a high pay commission to propose.

Cathy Newman’s verdict:
Ed Miliband certainly wooed the left during his campaign – and reaped the rewards when the unions handed him the votes which counted. But this morning he vowed to appeal to the “squeezed middle”. That’s nothing to do with supportive hosiery and everything to do with positioning himself on the centre ground.

Who to believe then? The Red Ed of the election campaign, or the slightly paler hues of the morning after the night before? Many of the new leader’s policies are still too unformed to know with any certainty exactly where on the political spectrum he’ll sit. And that’s why it’s premature for the Conservatives to be popping the champagne corks just yet.