Dear political journalists.
Your job is to criticize Ed Miliband. Of course, this might be because he's doing a bad job. But it's also because you are well-paid and privately educated, and so naturally unsympathetic to most Labour leaders. You will, therefore, want to oppose him whatever he does.
In this regard, you can learn from your colleagues on the sports desk. After years of practice they have perfected the art of condemning Arsene Wenger regardless of facts or logic. Their tricks can be adapted to Ed Miliband, for example:
1. Everything can be redescribed; if a man walks on water, say he can't swim. When Arsenal played better in the second half than the first at Everton it was because Wenger got his tactics wrong in the first half, whereas when Chelsea did better in the second period against Leicester, it was because Mourinho gave a brilliant half-time team talk. You can do the same for Miliband. Redescribe his intelligence as nerdiness. And if he looks like being popular with Labour activists, say he is out of touch with "middle England" - where "middle England is the 5% of voters like you.
2. The double whammy. When Arsenal had Patrick Vieira, Wenger's teams lacked discipline. Now they have a better disciplinary record, they have a soft centre. The same trick works for Labour leaders. If they seem out of touch with voters, emphasize their weirdness. If not, accuse them of populism.
3. See problems where none exist. Just as every defeat for Arsenal is a crisis, so keep asking what Labour plans to do about the deficit, even though most economists and investors don't care.
4. Never look for reasonable motives. When Wenger said he would happily pay £42m again for Ozil, he was accused of being stubborn rather than of wanting to boost Ozil's confidence. Similarly, you must say Ed Miliband's inactivity during the Scottish referendum was due to weak leadership rather than to a desire to avoid someone else's mess.
5. Avoid details. Football pundits claim that Wenger can't coach defending - forgetting that only the money-launderers kept more clean sheets than Arsenal last season - without saying precisely how to improve the defence. Similarly, you should demand that Miliband appeal more to voters in the south, without saying how.
6. Confuse luck with skill. Pundits claim that Arsenal's long injury list down the years is due to Wenger's bad management rather than bad luck - though, heeding point 5, they never say precisely how. Similarly, you should say that falling unemployment shows that Labour's criticism of Tory austerity was mistaken, and not point out that this has only happened thanks to an unexpected collapse in productivity growth.
7. Ignore the fact that there are trade-offs. The pundits accuse Arsenal of defensive naivete because their fullbacks play high up the pitch. If they played deeper, however, the same gobshites experts would say Arsenal were over-run in midfield. The same trick works in politics. If Labour says little about the deficit, accuse them of lacking "credibility". If they have plans to reduce it, accuse them of tax bombshells and wanting to slash defence spending.
8. Never, ever mention the elephant in the room. Football writers (with the honorable exception of the gerat Matthew Syed) rarely point out that Wenger's relative lack of success in the last few years is because his rivals have spent hundreds of millions of pounds of stolen money. Similarly, you must never say that the biggest problem labour leaders face is that the power of the rich greatly constrains what any social democratic government can achieve. Pretend the game isn't rigged.