What Next for Labour?
A few butterflies to pin to the board before entering the parallel universe known as the family Christmas. (Which reminds me of one of Chris Dillow’s apologies for lack of blogging. He had a family disaster, he said. “They came to visit.”)
First, I have a complaint to make about my dear friend Jackie Ashley. Not that she says I am wrong, or uncharitable to the leader of The People’s Party,* but that she describes me as a “former Blairite”.
I don’t know if she might be described as a “former Brownite” but there is nothing former about my iteness, even if I disagreed with the finest peace-time prime minister on something the other day.
It does not help her case that there seem to be rather a few former ites around of another stripe, namely the former supporters of the present leader of TPP.
My excellent colleague, Jane Merrick, political editor of The Independent on Sunday, interviewed Tom Scholes-Fogg at the weekend. He was a volunteer on Ed Miliband’s leadership campaign, and has since edited What Next for Labour? The answer is a new leader, apparently, this time a woman:
When Ed gave his speech to conference in 2010, I was sitting behind him on stage, and I was thinking I have backed the right person to get Labour back into Downing Street. A year on, I do regret backing him. If there was a leadership election with the same five candidates I would now back David Miliband. David is more of a statesman. He would be taking on the Government much more, and laying out his vision for the country and the Labour Party.
Ed Miliband, on the other hand, is in the middle of nowhere. He said he will fight for the centre ground, but he hasn’t identified where that centre ground is. I don’t know what he stands for, or where he wants to take the country.
Ed is very personable, while David was more arrogant and expected the leadership to be handed to him on a plate. But arrogance isn’t necessarily a bad thing in politics.
Ed has largely been a disaster at PMQs. He did quite well over phone hacking, but it is about being in tune with the public on more than one issue.
His conference speech in September just wasn’t a speech from a leader who wants to be prime minister. There is not very much he can do if he doesn’t believe in himself.
With female voters leaving the Conservatives in droves, the Labour Party should seize on this and perhaps consider a new female leader.
Then there was this, by James Macintyre, co-author of a “sympathetic” biography of the Labour leader, in the Guardianon Wednesday:
He has yet to justify standing against his brother.
“David had a plan,” Ed admitted to an ally recently. “I didn’t.” His operation, as he himself has been known to concede, so far lacks maturity and government experience. The leader is shielded from criticism. Shadow cabinet ministers are instructed to portray the Tories as “out of touch”, as opposed to ideological and rightwing, yet this line is having little effect.
There is a sense of complacency and drift, with no medium- or long-term vision of where the party is heading. Labour unease came to a head last Wednesday, when Cameron hit a nerve by laughing off splits with Nick Clegg over Europe, saying, “it’s not like he’s my brother”.
Why does the David issue matter still? Because Ed always had to make a special effort to get off the thin ice below his leadership. First, he caused real family and party trauma by his decision to stand against David, the circumstances around which remain so murky that the brothers cannot agree on when – and whether – Ed made his intentions clear.
Second, David won a “moral” victory in the contest last September, winning more votes among members and MPs and leaving Ed to rely on the trade unions.
He, too, tips Yvette Cooper as a possible successor.
I wonder what Mehdi Hasan, his co-author, thinks?
Picture: Wide-Eyed Nation
*Mind you, I draw the line at “vicious”. I hope I have never indulged in personal abuse (I did call him a panda once, but that was a misspelling, because I thought he would pander to oppositionalism; which he did).
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