Miliband’s end of term report – How’s he doing on “The 3 Ps”

19th July, 2013 10:44 am

The parliamentary term came juddering to an end yesterday. MPs have packed up their files and returned to their constituencies, holidays have been booked and passports searched for. There are now less than two years until the election, so with that in mind – how’s Ed Miliband doing?

Here’s his end of term report – this year focussing on the delivery on The Three Ps – Polling, Policies and Party:

Polling – the question is, which polling? At present it’s unclear whether Labour’s lead is in double digits or low single digits – if there’s a lead at all – as the polls leap around all over the place. Things are certainly in flux. But until a few months ago Labour was retaining a fairly solid lead in the polls and had been for over a year. That’s less true now. But of far more concern for Miliband personally are his troubling (and falling) personal ratings, with IPSOS MORI rating him as unpopular as William Hague was at a similar point in his party leadership tenure. Yet for Labour to be back ahead after such a hefty thumping three years ago is an achievement, although the lead looks a tad flimsy at the moment. GRADE – B-

Policies – what policies? No, that’s unfair – the party does now have a range of policies that have been unveiled over the last 12 months or so. The problem is that none of them are, so far, the kind of barnstorming, pledge-card adorning, attention grabbing ideas that the party probably needs. The compulsory job guarantee is a good idea though, as is aiming for full employment. And the party could do with talking about its “zero based budget review” far more often when under pressure on cuts/spending. Clearly there’s an agenda under the surface, but when will be see it? And what will it look like. I’d bet the house on a house building programme – but it hasn’t been announced. Yet. GRADE – C

Party – Until a few weeks ago, it might have been possible to argue that Ed Miliband didn’t really have a passion for party organisation. Sure, he cares hugely about the kind of organisation that Arnie Graf is trying to deliver across the country. And he brought us Refounding Labour, which although it ended up being a bit of a damp squib, was at least an attempt to change the party. But the passion Miliband had during the leadership election for doing Labour politics differently and changing the party fundamentally appeared to have fallen by the wayside. Until last week, when Ed Miliband decided to completely change the entire way the party is run, organised and funded. Quite the turnaround. Only Ray Collins knows how his review will end up squaring the circle on some of the messy issues surrounding party reform. But we now have to say – whatever we think of Ed’s plans – that he has been “brave”, and that he’s sure as hell going to have to be passionate about the minutiae of party organisation now GRADE – B+

Overall – Not a bad year for Miliband or the Labour Party by any stretch of the imagination, although it looks worse right now, following the events of Falkirk, the resignation of Tom Watson and everything that came after. But this last year has had it’s share of highs – notably The “One Nation” conference speech and the spate of by-election wins in November (particularly in Corby). Yet there have also been disappointments too – the County Council election results were unspectacular at best, and the party has yet to develop a strategy for dealing with UKIP more generally. With two years to go the party could be in a far worse position – but the position could be far stronger too. If everyone is still saying the same next year, start worrying. GRADE – B

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  • Mandy Hall

    D- I think.

    When are Labour going to stop letting the Tories dictate the battlegrounds? When are Labour going to take the fight to them instead?

    I joined Labour because I saw them as the only ones that would stand up for a fair, just and inclusive society. I don’t see them saying anything much about welfare reforms or the way that the Government are painting those dependent upon benefits (because there is no work or living wage) as scroungers. Or the disgraceful dog whistle politics of immigration / Europe.

    Why can’t Labour for once ditch worrying about polls and the nuances of every statement and just stand up for what the Party believes in? Fair wage, full employment (as much as possible), equal access to good education (for all), a functioning safety net and a just, socially mobile and inclusive society.

    Aspiration is what is needed now not reaction. Tell us Mr Milliband what you want to see, give the country hope that you are the person to see us out of this mess, not what you think will draw UKIP supporters into the Labour fold.

    Too much analysis and nuance – just get out there and tell the country what you BELIEVE in. Otherwise you just sound like a Tory policy wonk anxious for another five years salary.

  • Hugh

    ” Yet for Labour to be back ahead after such a hefty thumping three years ago is an achievement”

    It’s not an achievement at all – or at least not his. The Lib Dems polled 23% at the election; as soon as they went into a coalition with the Tories, they lost their left-wing voters. Before the end of 2010 they were down to about 10%, where they’ve stayed, and – not coincidentally – Labour were back up to about 40%. Miliband, after three years of austerity, has Labour polling lower than the day he took over.

    What’s the achievement?

    • aracataca

      Can you remind us? What Conservative Association are you a member of again?

      • Hugh

        Sure: I’m not. Was there something you actually disagreed with in my comment?

        • aracataca

          Really? Just a bog standard right wing troll then?

          • Ben

            You worry me. Either don’t understand the meaning of the word ‘troll’, or you genuinely think that self-criticism is such an alien thing to the Labour movement so as to be indicative of a ‘right wing troll’.

        • aracataca

          It was a lazy comment Hugh.You could try using the words ‘may’ and ‘could’ now and again.
          First: -A great sweeping but ultimately hollow statement -‘The Lib Dems….. as they went into a coalition with the Tories, they lost their left-wing voters.’
          What all of them? Of course some of their left wing voters will have been retained and some Lib Dem voters may have gone to the Greens and the Tories etc.
          Second: ‘and – not coincidentally – Labour were back up to about 40%’. All (every single last one) of the new Labour voters were former Lib Dem voters were they?
          You’re just making baseless generalisations to suit your own prejudices.
          Besides as things stand Labour would have a majority of 84- I’d be happy with that.

          • Hugh

            I don’t think it was particularly lazy. It was a comment, not an essay. And it was a lot more insightful than your replies, including this one frankly.

          • aracataca

            Yet more baseless and unsupported statements Hugh- when will it stop? We deserve to be told.

          • Hugh

            I’d link to a research paper showing your replies are fairly uninteresting, but I can’t find one.

          • aracataca

            Stick to the sweeping, puerile and brain dead attacks on EM Hugh- it’s more in keeping with your style.

          • Hugh

            I think my original comment was backed by about as much empirical data as the post to which it referred – more in fact. The only difference I see is that my conclusion based on that data is one you don’t happen to like.

  • swatnan

    Fergusson really does need to get out a bit more.

  • charles.ward

    I’d give him an A+ on the fourth P: Posturing.

  • Alex Otley

    Ed seems nice but he’s still an unknown entity. McCluskey is absolutely right – Labour needs policies. Give people a reason to vote Labour and you’ll get more people joining too.

  • Grouchy Oldgit

    He seems a decent man but too few people know what Labour would actually do in office other be a watered down version of the Tories.

  • Mandy Hall

    I’d give them all a D-

    Time and again it appears that Labour have taken a policy stance only when the Tories have forced them into it – why are Milliband and co letting the Government choose the battlegrounds all the time?

    I joined Labour because I want a fairer, juster and more inclusive society. Why can’t Milliband stand up and pledge that? I don’t want detailed policies – there is too much of a mess to be cleaned up for that and yes there is less money but what about standing up and saying ‘We are Labour and we believe in full employment, equal access to an outstanding education, a safety net for the young, disabled and old, a justice system that works without fear or favour and an inclusive society where everyone (including immigrants) is valued for the contribution that they can make.

    Instead we get obsessing about polls and nuanced speeches to to entice voters away from UKIP and to ‘make sure we don’t sound too left wing’. This is time for politicians to say what they believe in not what they think people want to hear.

    We are Labour not the Conservatives without the toffs.

  • markfergusonuk

    Is that an offer?

    • swatnan

      I do have my reputation to think of!

  • RAnjeh

    Not so sure. I’d give Ed Miliband a C_ on polling, an A on policies and an A on party reform. But he should be getting A*s.

  • Mark Ferguson’s loyalty is admirable but I fear it clouds his judgement. Given the ineptitude of this government and the complete failure of its economic strategy to award Miliband a B grade seems incredibly generous. The excuses for lacklustre polling being blamed on Labour’s poor starting position is wearing a little thin. This may have been the natural order of things in the past (although I’m not sure that’s really true) but these are not ordinary times. I’ve just finished reading Thomas Frank’s Pity The Billionaire and he provides a devastating critique of Obama’s timid bi-partisan (I hate that word) response to the Great Recession – contrasted with FDR’s action during the Depression. Great leaders seize the moment, hit the ground running and shape public opinion rather than follow it. I never thought Miliband was an FDR but he has shown flashes of boldness (compared with his brother) but it just seems to fizzle out.

  • Daniel Speight

    The gurus, spads and bag carriers will triangulate Labour until it’s unrecognizable if they can. They are doing a good job of this these last couple of months and Miliband has gone along with them.

    • Mandy Hall

      I know and its so disappointing.

  • MarkHoulbrook

    Policies Grade E
    Performance Grade D
    Planning Grade D
    Persuasion Grade E
    Polling Grade D
    Party (Selections and Shadow Cabinet) Grade E
    Propaganda GradeA
    Potential Grade A
    Overall D
    Mark Ferguson evaluation Grade U
    The party can only be successfull if it rids Blairites, Harriet Harman steps down from her social engineering by gender and less career politicians. The organisational commitee having cemented Labours failure in 2015
    Get real Mark

  • Monkey_Bach

    Ed Miliband is turning out to be exceptionally poor presentationally as a front man. He is a nice enough guy but a remarkably poor debater and orator considering he has done nothing other than politics for most of his adult life. However, there is still a possibility that he may be a very good ideas man and that Labour may, eventually, bounce back into office with a manifesto full of enlightened and workable ideas.


    (I’m not holding my breath though because Miliband actually wrote the last Labour manifesto himself, which was full of vague and some exceptionally bad ideas that would make David Freud himself blush, e.g., stripping young single mothers of benefits unless they agreed to live sequestered lives with their offspring in special centres, called Foyers, reserved to accommodate groups of such people probably miles away from their former homes, friends, families, and support groups.)


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