"I don't want to be too harsh on Ed Miliband because I think we've got a lot in common. I'm never going to be Prime Minister either."The Labour Party leader's appearance on the Andrew Marr show this morning reminded me of a story I was once told by Tom Graveney, the former England and Worcestershire batsman of the match in which he made his 100th first-class hundred. Graveney had got to 96 when the bowler, knowing of the landmark, sent down the gentlest of leg-side long-hops, expecting Graveney to smack it to the boundary.
But the batsman missed, so the bowler, being a sporting sort, sent another easier-to-hit ball down at Graveney and was duly the first to congratulate him when he reached his hundred.
Marr's interview tactic is similar, softer even than David Frost ("Good morning minister, and what did you have for breakfast?"), whom he replaced, and there are some who think that he goes easier on Labour politicians, although it could also be argued that the gentler they are treated, the more likely they might be to let their true feelings out.
Anyway, Miliband did get a soft run this morning and still came across as an over-earnest sixth former but he has hardly come up with any policy to be quizzed on in his four months in the job and bashing him for the policies of the last Government would just be dull.
What was interesting, though, were the strong terms in which he condemned the planned transport and public sector strikes due to coincide with the royal wedding on April 29.
They weren't weasel-words or prevarication, he said that he was "appalled" at the idea and that strikes were a sign of failure on the unions' part as much as on the employers'. I hope we'll see him walking with the police if there are any protests on wedding day.
Of course, having won the leadership only with union support, Miliband has to make it clear he is not under their thumb, but it is also true that Miliband can argue for the sort of change in the unions that David Cameron would find harder to achieve.
If Miliband is to take his party back towards the centre and reassure people that Labour is on their side (and I can't believe that most people agree with the militant unions), he has to take them on.
This needs to be about more than words. He should make it clear that he will not accept funding from unions that hold strikes nor invite them to social or political party occasions. The day that Ed Miliband tells Bob Crow to grow up and stop being such a selfish pillock would be the day when he becomes a credible alternative PM.