Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Squeaky bum time for Ed Miliband

“In terms of policy, but not in terms of values, we start with a blank page,” Labour leader Ed Miliband told The Guardian last week. The obvious good sense of this position from a man whose party was slaughtered at the General Election and faces another five years in opposition has gone down like the proverbial lead balloon among those at every point of the political compass.
Press commentators from both the Right and Left see the bread stolen from their mouths – in other words they fear having nothing to sound off about.
Meanwhile the public want to see the Coalition government forced to justify its swingeing cuts. But this exposes Labour’s vulnerability.
Firstly, as Miliband admitted it has no policies in place; secondly were it in office only the timing rather than the cuts themselves would differ much; thirdly, while this policy vacuum exists it is an easy target for Tory jibes as evidenced at today’s Prime Minister’s Questions.
The most immediate threat to Miliband, however, seems to be coming from within his own party, which was probably inevitable given he is leader only courtesy of union support.
There is a visible gap on the 50p tax rate and the graduate tax between himself and his shadow Chancellor Alan Johnson.
It isn’t difficult to believe that behind the scenes Ed Balls and his missus Yvette Cooper are not happy bunnies. Neither is it good news that “friends” of his brother David are letting it be known that political ambition has not been extinguished within his breast.
I almost choked over my porridge this morning when I read Matthew Norman in The Independent strongly supporting the idea that Ed Miliband should welcome Peter Mandelson back into the fold as a matter of urgency.
Norman’s piece spitefully entitled Bring back Westminster’s Barbra Streisand was prompted by Hannah Rothschild’s Tuesday night television documentary which followed Lord Mandelson in the final months ahead of the General Election.
Mandelson came across as a sinister. self-obsessed fixer who failed miserably in the task for which Gordon Brown invited him back from Brussels – to return Labour for a fourth term - knowing full well it was a lost cause and therefore fodder for a publishing deal.
When asked in the summer whether there was a place for Mandelson in the Shadow Cabinet, Miliband replied, “All of us believe in dignity in retirement.”
But the world has moved on since then. “All that binds Blairites and Brownites is the shared belief that Ed is callow, shallow, directionless and not properly elected, and that he can be taken out before the next election,” is Norman’s take on the current position in the Party.
“What he (Ed Miliband) needs at his side, right now, is a mixture of consigliere, media manager, tactician, strategist, elder statesman and enforcer, and only one figure fits that varied bill. Mandy, ever the tribal loyalist, is up for it.”
It is unlikely to happen but on reflection I’ve seen a lot crazier suggestions.


  1. Ah GC. Your best political blog so far. Says Jaffa. Yes Ed really does seem up against it; and yet. with 6 months passed since the election, and no obvious current coherent opposition strategy, Labour are ahead in the polls and would win an election with an overall majority if that election were held today. The coalition have announced a whole raft of new policies/measures, but they have not yet been implemented, only announced ! So the public/electorate is running scared of events that have not happened yet. The coalition have managed to frighten us all to death. [ie "the very thought of you"].

    Meanwhile, Ed, that rank outsider, that dark horse, that underestimated challenger to the Party's darling, [ie his brother David], keeps plugging away at question time [before and after his the birth of his new baby], keeps plugging away, keeps taking the flak, but rolls with the punches and is putting Cameron on the spot, from time to time with tough questions.

    Ed has indicated that Labour's strategy, will be to formulate a broad set of principles of what kind of society he envisages; rather than giving a kneejerk reaction, with a new policy for every new/changed event. Quite right at this stage.

    No my old [grape] fruit, ED and EVENTS are not to be under estimated. Watch out for the New Year and 20 per cent VAT, and energy increases, and food and commodity inflation, and train fares and student fees and welfare cuts. Need I go on? And then watch out for [and I give you] the Ides of March, and the next coalition budget. YES SIR, we have had [new] Labour's Budget, we have had the coalition's emergency budget and we have had the foreboded coalition's autumn/october announcement/statement. Is the next budget going to bring back thosr crazy hazy days of summer consumer spending? Those everyday property rises? NO SIR. Meanwhile mortgage famine and currency turmoil and ever fiercer cuts stalk the entrails of the conservatives and their 'bastard' libdem partners ["that dark and dank place, where he thee got",].

    Dont't let the pack confuse you GC. Ed does not 'have to do huskies', he is in there for The Long March. Alan Johnson has been put in there to be sacrificed, so that the possible premier to be, can flex his muscles and show his power by sacrificing the possible chancellor to be by replacing him before the next election.

    Dont let the pack confuse you; watch the polls !

  2. Jaffa,
    If only Labour's own MPs shared the same enthusiasm for their new leader as you do - hence the point of my post which you haven't addressed. The joke around Westminister is Labour does better when Ed's on leave. GC

  3. I know GC, that you do not like to enter into too much 'blogging' dialogue, but I feel I have to come back to you once more on ED. You attribute to me enthusiam for ED. I am not advocating that. What I am saying is that he should not be underestimated at such an early stage. I have also pointed out to you that the gov is already behind in the polls.

    You have outlined in your initial blog how many things Ed will need to be succeed and how others have indicated that Mandleson is the only politician around able to fill all those roles for Laour. But Ed has 'retired' Mandy and from his point of view, rightly so, as he, Ed has also publicly cut all ties with 'New' Labour.
    What distinguished New Labour was it readiness to embrace a 'compromise' "Third Way". ED will have to play a waiting game and take advantage of what will prove to be a very unpopular government. Meanwhile he will have to reorganise his party to get what will be the newly disenfranchised to come out and vote.

    What you and other commentators seem to be suggesting is that ED is a total incompetent. What I am suggesting to you and those commentators is that, it is too early to say that and meanwhile he should not be underestimated. The forces that brought him to Labour leadership power are well capable of also helping him to win an election. Why do you think the coalition is so keen to alter the election geography and procedures?
    All these sundry commentators are judging Ed with yesterday's history and yesterday's 'strong' economy. But they are forgetting that this gov will preside over the fastest decline in the public's/electorates' standard of living since the Second World War. And it was the aftermath World War 2 that brought the radical welfare state Atlee Labour Gov to power. I am suggesting nto you that all Ed will have to do is suvive as Labour leader and wait for EVENTS to turn against the coalition gov.

  4. Other than praise Miliband's "obvious good sense" I make no judgement on Ed's compotence. GC


What do you think? GC