This poll lead is soft – here’s how Labour can harden it

27th March, 2012 10:21 am

So after a fairly disastrous budget and a Tory donations scandal, Labour’s poll lead is looking both bigger and more secure. It’s a verifiable budget bounce. And with more bad headlines for Cameron this morning, Tory attack lines on Labour and the unions aren’t cutting through (yet) to the front pages.

And that’s before a copy of the NHS risk register was leaked or the budget tax break for non-doms came to light.

But rather than rest on our laurels as we head into a parliamentary recess (and why do the Tories also get embroiled in these scandals just before a recess, eh?) Labour must take this opportunity to be big and bold.

We must accept, if we are being at all honest and realistic, that any polling bump that Labour has received is due almost entirely to a negative reaction to the Tories, rather than a positive reaction to us. We barely have any policies to speak of – how could it be otherwise? We have not, as yet, provided anyone with a compelling argument for why Labour should win the next election.

Reminding everyone that the Tories and their yellow friends are making a mess of things doesn’t count.

I agree in part with what Sunny Hundal has said this morning – Ed needs a big, bold policy statement that shows what he’s for (although I disagree some of the specific proposals that Sunny suggests). Not least because Labour canvassers are “naked on the doorstep” at the moment. The last thing Ed needs is to be looking to is Polly Toynbee’s “advisory council of far-sighted thinkers” to conjure up another meta narrative for Ed. We’re drowning in those at the moment (Squeezed Middle. Predatory Capitalism). We have enough wonks on the good ship Miliband, and more than enough intellectual theorising about the rough contours of what a better Britain might look like. What we really need are some policies – a big statement that will resonate (or be heard at all) outside of the Westminster Village. Ed should follow the central thrust of Toynbee’s message – “Be Bold”. Then maybe we can start turning this soft anti-Tory lead into a hard pro-Labour one.

If we can do that, then it might be, to recycle an old phrase – Game On.

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  • Amber Star

    Be bold – but it’s a bit too early for policy/ manifesto comittments; & anything could happen on the economy. Ed’s general concept speeches get zero attention from the media.

    I wonder what would happen, were Ed to give a big speech to business (does he have anything coming up with any biz groups?) about responsible trade unionism &/or responsible public spending; about how it underpins & supports responsible capitalism.

    ‘Lecturing’ biz on capitalism tends to result in Labour being mocked; there tends to be an attitude of: you sort out the unions, public spending etc. & leave the capitalism to us, the biz people. So I do think that a big speech in which Ed ‘takes ownership’ of the things he’s seen as being responsible for: Unions, public spending etc. is overdue. And, IMO, he needs to make a strong case for Unions. But it would be risky – but being “Bold” usually is.

    • Jeremy_Preece

       The point is that Ed M is not bold, and is vanishing into the background. This is not good.

      We do need some flagship policies, and above all else we need a sense of direction and purpose. The danger about saying that it is too early to go into detail is that you end up looking like you have not got a clue and that you are not relevant. This is where Ed M currently is. There are issues about Ed and his charisma, drive and ability to commincate with teh public, but there is an even greater danger that he cannot be heard because he hasn’t actaully got a message to deliver. That is serious.

      It is very difficult for us as party members to understand where Ed M is coming from, so it is impossible for the general electorate.

      • AlanGiles

        Well, Jeremy: Oppositions don’t win elections – governments lose them, and many weeks for Cameron like the last one.

        That said, the shadow cabinet needs a reshuffle to remove some of the more shopworn exhibits.

      • I think you will have to get used to the fact that Ed is not going to do the Blair-Cameron style of spin – thank goodness. Its now paying dividends as Cameron looks ever more slimy and slippery

        Ed has made it clear enough – this is a long game and there will be no election until 2015, so its much more a case of a slow build and developing the themes already set

        • Jeremy_Preece

           My fear is of a long slow build (slipping backwards) followed by a dull thud. Then nothing.

          • No reason why that should happen. Much more dangerous to make a lot of noise now about something which turns out to be out of date by 2015 or gets nicked by the government.

      • Mike Murray

        Why do you think that our  opponents keep demanding to know where Labour stands? Because they are genuinely interested? That in the interests of democracy they want to be sure that the public is aware of the choices three years out from a general election?  Why, of course they are. That’s why Blair was so clever: he never revealed to the electorate that he was really a Tory.

        • Jeremy_Preece

           My point is that in the real world people – as in the electorate, want to know what Labour is about. We can’t argue if we have to say “I dunno” everytime we are asked “what would you do?”
          We can hardly knock on doors and say “vote for us in the local election” and they say “why, what does Labour stand for” and we say ” just vote for us now and maybe by 2015 I can answer you”.

          • Mike Murray

            I am always able to tell people what Labour stands for — but that’s because I am Old Labour.

          • Jeremy_Preece

             So then, no answer to “what would Labour do”.

          • Mike Murray

            Old Labour have never had a problem with providing an answer to what labour would do. That’s New Labour’s problem because they are Tories not Socialists.

          • AlanGiles

            Mike I feel part of the problem “Newer” Labour have is that they feel they have to put themselves in little camps. For example here is what “The Purple Booker” wrote yesterday (on the “Lincoln” thread):-

            “- I truly see myself as a bit of everything but primarily Purple/Blue/Black Labour. 

            It reminds me of the early 90s when the Tories who were furious with John Major for not being Mrs Thatcher formed the “No Turning Back” group and you had the likes of Theresa Gorman, Tony Marlowe et al doing all they could to win personaly kudos and publicity.

            It seems to me it is time Labour just became plain Labour again, and those people on the right-wing of Labour to the point where they seem to have the same ideas and values as the Tories and Lib-Dems ought to make up their minds if Labour really is for them, or if they might be better off doing a Bozier.

          • Jeremy_Preece

             All I have ever said is that we need strong decisive leadership, flagship policies and a sense of direction. I have then received a string of “you are new Labour” thus a Tory comments.
            I joined this party to see it get elected, I have never made disticntions between old and new, black, purple red green or anything else I see this a self indulgant waste of time and a turn off to the voters.
            It would be nice if this energy was used to fight the Tories, and I still say that the “wait and see” and “let’s hope the Tories will self destruct before 2015” is no substitute for a proper strategy.

          • AlanGiles

            But all these ridiculous “colours” (flavours) of Labour: they are all basically to the right of the party, and in addition to dividing leftand right of the party they are further dividing themselves – a ludicrous position

          • Jeremy_Preece

            Which is why I have never used them. I do get them used against me.
            Dishing out labels is the easy way of dealing with someone who holds a different view, ‘label and dismiss as beyond the pale’ means you don’t have to bother with discussing the argument.. 

          • Mike Murray

             “All I have ever said is that we need strong
            decisive leadership, flagship policies and a sense of direction.”

            They count for nothing unless underpinned by a strong socialist ideology and value system. That’s where New Labour got it so wrong.

          • Mike Murray

            Agree absolutely, Alan. Perhaps the New Labour people should read Orwell’s account of the Spanish Civil War and reflect on the way that factionalism destroyed the anti-Franco alliance.

          • Dave Postles

            ‘Purple/Blue/Black Labour’ – isn’t that an intracutaneous hematoma?  Poor fellow.

          • Jeremy_Preece

             and Old Labour were happy to sit it out and loose 4 elections in a row, that would be five or six if New Labour hadn’t come along.
            No the New Labour were not Tories, Cameron is a Tory, but then extremists tend to see everything in extremes.

          • AlanGiles

            Jeremy: If you want to rewrite history – with respect base it on fact. Do you not remember how tired the Major government was by 1997? All the sleaze… anybody could have won the 1997 election for Labour, but having won Blair drove the party more and more to the right as the years went by – more CCTV than any other democratic country, privatisation of anything that moved, all the wars, etc etc.

            I despair of Labour sometimes – doesn’t anyone remember the  divisions the LibDems had with the “Orange Bookers” Huhne, Laws and Clegg versus the rest?. Labour go one better by having several different flavours. If you want a fragmented party go ahead, I can’t stop you, but anyone who thinks a return to the Blair years under his chief acolyte in 2015 will guarantee electoral success is sadly deluded. What might have been the answer in 1997 won’t be the answer almost 20 years later

          • This is probably the first election for a long time where there will be a relatively level playing field rather than a long-standing and unpopular governing party losing after a long stretch in government – which is what has happened since 97 onwards

          • Mike Murray

            Yes, New Labour had three terms and never once rescinded the disgraceful “Right to Buy Legislation” .
            New Labour gave wealthy companies shedloads of money through PFI but refused to nationalise or take back into social ownership a single thing. And it was New Labour that introduced more private companies into the NHS and gave the Tories a pretext for privatising the NHS. Thanks very much!

          • Mike Murray

            So Atlee was an extremist then?

          • treborc

            Old labour, the party which took the charity money from Aberfan to clear up the mess. Wilson who fought with Miners and closed more mines then Thatcher ever  would, who sacked Nye Bevan for daring to ask for a living wage.

            The Aberfan donation were repaid by Blair in 1997 and as we know Blair did give the min wage although to low, it took from 1900 until New labour.

            Old Labour OK old labour built council houses, it kept welfare, and the NHS was protected.

            Old labour new labour, what we need is a Labour party.

            Old and new had a lot which were good but a dam sight more that was not.

            Old labour kept wages so dam low, it fought with Union over decent wages, teacher and nurses were paid the lowest wages,  lets take the good bits from the Old labour and the new labour into a Labour party

          • Mike Murray

            ‘Wilson . . . who closed more mines than Thatcher ever.’

            I’ve never heard anyone suggest that. Where’s your evidence for that extraordinary assertion?

            “Teachers and nurses were paid the lowest wages”

            As a former teacher, I can tell you that the only decent wage increases I received were under Labour.  It was Thatcher who demonised everyone in our profession to provide a scapegoat to divert attention away from the Tories’ robbery of  state assets which were then  owned collectively by everyone in this country and are now, thanks to privatisation, owned by a few greedycorporations. ( Water aand  energy companies etc.)
            Really, your post is  riddled with right wing prejudices and inacuracies. On another thread you admitted that you were a Tory. That must explain it.

          • Hugh

            Wilson’s first term in office 1964-70: mine closures: 263 pits closed, an average of 44 per year.
            Second term, ’74 to ’76: 32 pits closed from ’74 to ’79, so 13 pro rata.

            Total: 276

            Then from ’79 to ’84, 47 closed, by which time there were only 174 left.

            So, yes, more closed under Wilson than Thatcher.


          • jaime taurosangastre candelas

            Just doing some head maths:

            Wilson closed 54.8% of all of the mines open at the start of his first term, an average rate of 6.8% of open mines per year through his 8 years in office.  ((263/480)/8).

            Thatcher closed 19.8% of all of the open mines through her period of closures (’79-84), an average rate of 4.0% of open mines per year through her years of closure.  ((43/217)/5).

            There are two qualifiers:  the figures tell you nothing about whether Wilson closed only small mines, while Thatcher may have closed big ones.  On the other hand, if you were a miner working for a small mine in Wales and were closed down, it was probably not of great hope to discover that a big mine in Nottinghampshire was kept open, so there was a geographic aspect as well.

            It is sad to see an industry shut down.  We have lost a lot of mining jobs in Chile to automation and fluctuations in the prices of copper, which mean that old mines sometimes get reopened if the high cost of extraction is worth it while the copper price is high, then closed again after 6 months.  You will all remember that the mining disaster and rescue of the 33 was from such a mine, with poor safety standards.  There is also a toll on the families as the miners leave to travel to re-opened mines on 6 month contracts, normally living in tents or very basic accommodation.

            However, nothing is for ever, and if the general trend is towards automation, or increased cost of extraction, or somewhere else in the world producing cheaper copper or coal, then there is nothing to be done.  It is senseless to keep losing money for the companies, so they will not.  

            What should be done is for new industries to be persuaded to come into the mining area.  I saw the film “Brassed Off” and it was clear that in the film, very little provision for new jobs was being made.  It may be a film of fiction, but I think that was the case in reality as well.  There were quite a few ex-miners in Darlington when I first came to the UK, and many had found no other work.

          • derek

            Good post @google-285908a073bfe41d26f162a0d9780abd:disqus and well studied! many of those mines closed were indeed the minor private mines that did lack proper standards.

            There is no reason why we can’t have good quality jobs and dare I say nationalised industries.  

          • derek

            Wilson, merely cemented the nationalised coal mines by closing many former private pits that weren’t fit for purpose, Wilson also introduced redundancy rights, Disability rights and payments and raised the lower income threshold significantly had we listened to Harold we’d have had a fair days work for a fair days pay.

          • Mike Murray

            And he kept my generation out of the Viet Nam war.

  • The problem is becoming a hostage to fortune. We need to find something which is safe enough not to be threatened by change of circumstance.

    However, I also think the public are totally fed up with the constant stress on reform, so we also need to avoid getting back into that refrain – it doesn’t convince any more

    • AlanGiles

      I think you’re right Mike. I think certain members of the shadow cabinet should be kept well in the background, because they are too much like their Conservative counterparts (e.g. Liam Byrne). It’s like being a football manager – I’d play Andy Burnham as much as possible. Let’ s just hope “Big Brother” (DM) can keep his mouth shut for a time!

  • Amber Star

    The Tories may be about to step on another banana skin – RBS sell off. Who can doubt that the proposed sale at a massive discount is driven by ideological desperation? The Tories aren’t sure they can win in 2015; the LibDems say they are against the sale (but does it even need a vote in the HoC? If not, they can posture to their heart’s content & never be called on it).

    The Tories & their friends are desperate to get the banks back into ‘private’ hands. The spectre of a left-leaning government having an economic lever the size of the RBS to ‘play’ with, it has them freaking out. A few are genuinely afraid it will be a disasterous failure, the others are afraid it will be a resounding success!

    Labour need a much more reasoned position than: It is a huge give-away of tax-payer’s cash. Obviously that’s very important – but we need an alternative strategy which the public can believe would recoup more of our money. “We’ll just wait for the share price to go up on its own”, doesn’t really cut it. And all the stuff about it being a bank which will lend to biz, if we keep it in public hands… I don’t think the public ‘get’ that at all. They mostly think that any & all banks will lend, if a biz has a profitable idea. Okay, they think wrong but telling  them that – or trying to educate them into thinking ‘properly’ – does not work in the short-term.

    So, at the risk of being a bore, I’ll repeat: Labour needs a ‘bullet point’ strategy for getting more public money back for the RBS or we’ll get no political gain from one of the boldest & best things which the last Labour government did! Instead, we’ll get the blame for ‘making a lousy investment in the first place’. So, Go to it chaps! We need a straight-forward, easily understood plan for making the RBS worth loadsamoney. And after you’ve done that, you can have your lunch. 🙂

  • We will see the real situation in 5 weeks, my guess is that “the polls” will be shown up as almost unconnected with the voters actually vote.

  • I agree the poll lead is soft – as usual when  it comes to the question of the economy Labour is way behind the Tories and until that shifts any thoughts of election victory are for the birds.  Which is why I thought Toynbee’s proposal was a good idea although I agree it is all to easy to overdo it with the “experts” (Gordon Brown loved nothing more than surrounding himself by such people at the expense of actually doing anything significant).

    I’ve not read Sunny Hundal’s piece yet but still I think a coherent economic message trumps everything else as it is the first thing I get confronted with when I tell them I’m in the Labour party.

    • Jeremy_Preece


      I would agree with you here. I am always accused of wanting
      to return to New Labour, but what I am saying is that the point of New Labour
      is that it had a very clear economic strategy as well as other policies that
      financial provision had been made for. The result was that it held together.
      In fact New Labour set out a position, and clear leadership. It paid dividends.
      To return to that type of clarity is an excellent goal. I have never said that
      the policies have to be identical, nor that the detail will not have changed,
      but to my mind having an aimless vacuum is not progressing forwards from New
      Labour, so much as going backwards into the bad old days of the 1980’s. 
      Right now we need to nail the Tory lie that the recession is all Labour’s fault. It takes strong leadership. 

      • I’d give up about the leadership – Labour doesn’t do regicide – so we have to work with what we’ve got. I’m more concerned that we’ve lost ground with the argument over the economy in the country. I agree absolutely we need to nail this lie the government have been spectacularly successful with that Labour was at fault for our current woes – it’s the first thing people say to me. But we’ve had two years of this and I think it’s now embedded in the public consciousness. If we had been clearer from the start then we wouldn’t have this problem but Miliband flirted with the left then spent six months making his mind up which direction he was going to go. Personally I thought his move left wasn’t wise but if he’d stuck with it it would have made sense.

        • Jeremy_Preece

           I blame Ed M for not nailing this lie Matthew. Just saying “mistakes were made” and trying to distance himself from the last government indicated that he was ashamed fuelled Tory claims that even Labour blames itself for the mess and wants to stick its head in the sand until it goes away. However I think that we still do have to nail it or we are not going to get past square one.
          Like me, you Matthew are also someone who meets people outside of the party and tries to communicate our ideas. I don’t get how so many inside the party think that it is okay for the leader to be seen as a no hoper by the electorate.

          • Duncan

             After an election result like that you can’t really not say “mistakes were made”; saying “we did everything right” is another way of saying “you were all wrong, wrong, wrong!” (which doesn’t tend to go down well).

            Anyway, why we are having this debate when the poll lead is hardening daily?

          • But the poll lead isn’t really hardening. I keep making this point but it needs to get through – the Tories have a clear lead over Labour on the economy. Labour enjoyed big leads over Thatcher when Kinnock was leader but, like today, they never lead on the economy. It only happened when Blair became leader. People might like Labour’s policies on the NHS, education et al, agree we need to invest more, then go in the ballot box and stick ‘X’ next to the Conservative candidate because they don’t trust Labour on the economy. As the saying goes – it’s the economy stupid!

          • Jeremy_Preece

             Exactly Matthew! This is why I cannot feel that the way forward is to return to some outdated old style clause 4 type of 19th c socialism, but like Blair did – get a grip on the economy, and fight back to recover some of Labour’s reputation.

          • Unfortunately there are a lot of younger members who don’t remember those days and seem to think adopting the policies of the SWP is a winning formula.

  • I’ve just just read Sunny Hundal’s piece and I’m guessing his suggestion Miliband should call for an EU referendum is what Mark Ferguson doesn’t like the idea of. I’ll admit I’m a bit nervous of that but it’s certainly bold and would have people listening to us.

    • Amber Star

      Once – & only once – I heard Ed Balls mention that Europe should discuss a new policy regarding the free movement of workers to allow individual nations to pursue policies which would have a national/local impact on [un-]employment.

      If Hollande wins in France, Labour may have somebody they can work with regarding either:
      1. Some restrictions which would facilitate local employment initiatives; or
      2. A major partner who just might be in favour of European wide interventionist policies to encourage employment.

      Because, IMO, a living minimum wage/ job for every unemployed young person/ job for every longterm unemployed person are almost impossible as policies without some European agreement/ restriction on worker movement.

    • treborc

      I doubt a referendum in Wales would be accepted do not know about Scotland, but Wales would not be happy leaving the EU that’s for sure.

      Seven major town centres in Wales are having revamps with EU funding

      • No offence but Wales is pretty tiny compared with the rest the rest of the UK which, judging by the people I speak to – both left and right – is pretty Eurosceptic.

        • treborc

          What an argument from the English we are bigger then you.

        • …. and as Labour’s position would undoubtedly have to be to remain a member of the EU, quite how would we benefit from it? 

          It would be a gift to UKIP and might well put pressure on the Tories but it would be a stunt which could very easily backfire

      • No offence but Wales is pretty tiny compared with the rest the rest of the UK which, judging by the people I speak to – both left and right – is pretty Eurosceptic.

  • Jeremy_Preece

    I would have to say that I really have to agree with this article, and I think that I have said so, many times in the various blogs.
    Labour is effectively now standing as the “not the Tory led Coalition Party”, and that is totally negative. If we have a soft lead (and I agree it is pretty soft) with no direction and policies then just imagine how we would be standing if we had flagship polices and a leader who many of the public thought might be the next PM.

    What do I think of Labour Leadship at the moment – well…  To misquote Ghandi -“I think it would be a good idea”!

    Labour is falling into the trap of being so careful not to make any mistakes that it is saying nothing at all. A party that has nothing to say is a party that will disapepar quite quickly.

    And of course, it is all about the economy. Up until 1992 the Tories in the minds of the majority of the electorate were the nasty party, but better trusted with your money. Labour were seen as the well meaning party, but unable to run the economy. The result was a long winter in opposition. It was the interest rate crashes that damaged the Tories only weapon and then people began to see Labour as better with the economy as well as the other issues. Result 1997 landslide, repeated in 2001.

    The present Labour opinion poll lead is soft because it is a protest. Come an election voters don’t
    on the whole say Okay I want these in to punish those others. They
    become more concerned that  the party they elect is going to have the
    ability to deliver.

    At the moment Labour has taken on all of the blame for the entire world wide recession and banking crisis. The result is that in any discussion the argument goes “it was all Labour’s fault” and then the discussion ends. That is why Cameron is still standing regardless of the blunders he makes.

    As I have said again and again, the world wide rescession would have been no different if Tories had been in power than it was when Labour were there. No one saw it coming, and so we have to fight back about the positive things that we achieved between 1997-2010. Again we really need to have the leader step up or ship out. 

    • I don’t think we can win power looking back to the past. Which is why we need to accept that we now have a different leader and the style is not the same as that pursued between 1997 and Blair’s departure (by which time he was very unpopular and certainly not trusted)

      We really can’t march in promising things which will be irrelevant or impossible in 3 years time

      And the leader of the party is staying, and I wish that those who supported someone else would stop trying to turn back the clock

      • Jeremy_Preece

         Just a few points Mike.
        1. I was not even a member of the Labour party when the current leader was voted in. I joined in November 2010 and stood in a local election May 2011. I publically supported the leader and the party as I knocked on doors, and I certainly wanted hope against hope to see Ed rally, or even switch on and light up. I have to say that this is not happening.
        2. I do not want to turn the clock back. If I was driving my car and realised that I had taken a wrong turning and was going to miss my detination, then I would want to change course and correct the error. That is not he same as driving back to where I made the error, just taking different turnings so that I could get back on track.
        3. I have never said that we need spin. Nor have I said that every policy of New Labour was a good one. What I do say is that if there is a clear direction, some flagship policies etc. then the public tend to pick up on the idea that the party is serious.
        4. What I think, or what other party members think is not what matters. Judgement will come at the hands of the electorate, and it is they who we have to look to. If they can’t see our leader ever being prime minister material – then we have a problem.

      • William

        3 very sensible posts again Mike. I agree with all of what you have said here. How sensible is it really to splash out a new policy here and now 3 years before an election? Governments lose elections rather than oppositions win them and this government seems hell bent on losing the next one at the moment. We just need a general sense of direction at present which imho we are beginning to develop but it will take time.

  • Holly

    Good luck to Labour in finding a anything ‘safe enough’ to talk about in public, without the mud, stats, facts & figures flung straight back at ’em.
    Tough ask eh?
    Miliband should be more selective on which bandwagon/moral high-horse he jumps on.
    It may get a temporary lead in the polls for Labour, but it continues to keep on biting him on the bum….Without Miliband’s poll ratings improving Labour can not win the next general election.

  • Mike Murray

    “What we really need are some policies – a big statement that will resonate (or be heard at all) outside of the Westminster Village.”

    Totally disagree, we’ve been here before when in opposition , and always played our hand too early, drawing the spotlight onto our own contradictions and difficulties and away from the government’s disastrous performance. We should not set out a big narrative publicly until the next election but continue expoiting the divisions and discomfort of the coalition as they arise articulating Labour values and providing a sounding board for the growing  anger and  discontent of the public. Every time a labour leader in opposition makes a speech it is traduced by the media and simply takes the heat off our opponents.

  • Jeremy_Preece

     I would agree with you here. And note that you seem to have contradicted what you said about being too early to have a clue, in the other comment.
    Boo- hiss is not an effective opposition tactic. We need to be ready to answer the inevitable question “what would you lot do then”. So back we go again to an overall direction and strategy.

  • mikestallard

    “We have not, as yet, provided anyone with a compelling argument for why Labour should win the next election.”

    Here are some real challenges which any government is going to face:
    1. Dwindling production and rocketing debt made yearly worse by a growing deficit. We are just not balancing the books. The person who will pay is you, gentle reader as your pathetic little pound shrinks and shrinks.
    2. Europe is more and more taking over our country which is also splitting into two as Scotland drifts away into Europe.
    3. Our civil Service is now linked at the hip with Europe. It is also running the country.

    So the Labour Policy will be 
    1. To hand out more and more goodies to anyone who cares to ask. This will mean more QE. But – hey – who is counting!
    2. More and more Union friendly legislation protecting the working class from the wicked Tory grabbers. He who pays the piper etc etc.
    3. One million public sector non jobs to kick start the economy.

  • John Roffey

    The difficulty to be overcome – almost in any circumstances – is that as the GE approaches both the Tories and the Lib/Dems will start to increase the ‘clearing up Labour’s financial mess’ mantra. In some ways, the harder the austerity measures bite the greater the effect of the mantra.

    Unless some strategy to counter this is started – and started soon – the Party’s chances at the next GE are bleak, irrespective of its poll rating in the meantime.

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  • R Soul

    I think a reality is that, personality comes into it these days as much as (if not more than) policies or being ‘bold’.  Ed doesn’t come across as having much of a personality and seems ‘wooden’ in front of an audience/the media.  His brother would have been much more electable (as PM) for the electorate (rather than the Unions) – he has more personality than Ed, seems more ‘relaxed’ with the media, seems more ‘in-touch’ and is (marginally) better-looking.  It may seem trite, but with often very little to choose between the parties, these things are as important as policies!

    • AlanGiles

      Mr R Soul (oh, well played, sir!). David Miliband is just as much as a geek as his brother – worse he is condescending and talks wonk-speak. A return to the past in the form of Mr Miniblair will lead Labour up a blind alley: it would also remind some of us of the expenses scandal. Ed Miliband, along with Hilary Benn was entirely innocent of any suggestion of wrong-doing. This cannot be said of DM who seems to enjoy making money as much as his mentor.

      Would I vote for an opposition led by David Blair-Milliband?. In a word – no.

      • R Soul

        Mr. Giles: Obviously, that’s your opinion and your choice, but I think to the more ‘casual’ voter (of which there are many) David would have been more electable than Ed. 

        For all of Blair’s faults, he was elected as PM 3 times – even after Iraq – so, on an even playing field, that could imply that your “Mr. Miniblair” would be (could have been?) equally electable.  Also, I think come the next election, the expenses scandal will have been long forgotten and, for many people (especially those voting for the first time), largely irrelevant anyway.  As for being condecending, it didn’t stop Cameron polling more votes than anyone else last time around! 

        I’m not saying that David Miliband would have made a better Labour leader/Prime Minister than Ed; just that I think he would have been more electable to a lot of floating/casual voters and increase Labour’s chances of winning the next election, ‘cos, as it stands – 10 points ahead or not – they don’t stand a chance.

        • AlanGiles

          With all due respect we don”’t want to turn politics into a beauty parade; Blair was very fond of caking himself in make-up, prancing round like a third rate actor.

          A very good job that be4auty wasn’t a pre-requisite to party leadeship in the cases of (for example) Churchill, Atless, Harold Wilson.

          I don’t think the expenses scandal will ever go away because some of them are still at it, claiming maximum “food allowance” etc, which they clearly don’t need. While we have greedy, venal politicians there will always be temptation and further scandal hovering in the background. The “Office of David Miliband” helps your pal to avoid tax on his earnings from News International, foreign investment firms etc.


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