Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Ed Miliband can have the last laugh but Labour's leader has got to get a grip now

It wasn’t so much Ed Miliband had a poor Prime Minister’s Questions in the House of Commons today but rather he failed to give David Cameron the verbal hiding MPs and political commentators had been expecting.
Cameron came to the Dispatch Box well prepared and Miliband all but failed to land a telling blow despite having the Coalition’s U-turns on health and justice to aim for.
Does it matter? Probably not. PMQs – the weekly 30-minute knockabout which opens with six questions from the Opposition leader to the Prime Minister of the day – goes mostly unnoticed outside the Westminster village.
In any case William Hague was one of the best PMQ performers in living memory when he was shadowing Tony Blair - but was abandoned by voters come election time.
I don’t like the yah-boo-sucks confrontation of PMQs. It’s the only part of the work of the Mother of Parliaments that gets any peak-hour screen time – and then just Cameron and Miliband blowing raspberries at the other. The adversarial nature of PMQs is a relatively recent invention and must owe something to the arrival of television cameras. It’s a poor advert for democracy.
The Labour Party is going to have to wake up to the fact that in choosing (or rather in allowing the unions to choose) Ed Miliband as its leader, they have a man who will always be bested (to maintain the boxing metaphors) in a sparring match with Cameron, an Old Etonian and former PR man.
Miliband will never look Prime Ministerial. He will never ad lib a good joke. He will always be the cartoonists’ friend portrayed as Wallace, Gromit’s Plasticine master.
But none of this need necessarily bar him from taking up residence at No 10 Downing Street just as it didn’t stop the much lampooned, lifelong bachelor Edward Heath in 1970.
In fact Miliband’s media clumsiness may come to be viewed as an electoral asset if Cameron’s Tory Boy glibness grates on the nation’s nerves when the cuts start to really bite.
But first Miliband is going to have to get some proper policies with more substance than just trying to rubbish those of the Coalition, which is all that is coming across now.


  1. Yes GC, "Proper policies" [above] plus an overall strategy of attack. Several months wasted before picking possibly the wrong leader; no serious lead in the polls and none at all when it comes to Ed's personal popularity over David. Labour will have to be actually seen and heard harrying the government at every opportunity. Her Majesty's Opposition will have to work very hard to win the next election outright; especially with changes to constituencies and raised figure of 55 for a vote of no confidence, on the way in this parliament. At the moment, the impression is of 'laid-back' complacency. [Jaffa].

  2. Thanks for your comment, Jaffa. The impression I get of Labour is one of fear and disunity rather than complacency. GC


What do you think? GC