Three months before an election, do we know what Miliband stands for?

4th February, 2015 8:23 am

If there was a phrase to describe Ed Miliband’s years as leader so far it would be: unity over clarity. To many outsiders, the Labour leader should have been miles ahead of Cameron in the polls by now, slamming him every day on austerity, food banks, the cuts and the NHS. I hear this claim almost every day on social media.

Ed Miliband

But Miliband never had it that easy. He had to balance those who rejected austerity with those who thought Labour had spent too much; those who wanted a positive message on immigration with the fact that Labour lost massive trust on the issue; to make a break from New Labour while maintaining peace with the powerful bloc of Blairites.

For a surprisingly long time this delicate balancing act worked. But over the last six months Miliband has gone from being able to hold together a broad coalition to losing voters on all sides. Unlike the Tories, Labour is bleeding voters to the right as well as its left. How did we get to this and why is the coalition falling apart?

Miliband problems stem from an inability to make the switch from unity to clarity. I’m not going to say I predicted this all along or that it was inevitable, but what was once a strength has now become a liability.

There are caveats of course. This was never going to be easy – Miliband couldn’t deny the need for any spending cuts, nor ape Osborne’s ruinous austerity. The media was against him from the start and getting out an anti-austerity message would be impossible. He needed people to trust Labour on immigration again without telling them they were wrong and racist. Going too far either way wouldn’t have worked and triggered a civil war inside the party.

So we should reject claims – made by some on the left and on the right – that Miliband is failing because he neither went as far as Syriza nor embraced austerity; he was always going to choose a middle path. Plus, it’s not like Cameron and Osborne have a clearer message: their pitch is conspicuously missing any mention of Big Society, modernisation or the huge 1930s-style cuts they are planning. On the one hand they preach austerity, on the other they offer tax cuts to the wealthiest. This confused messaging (and a toxic brand of course) is likely why Miliband’s loss over the last 18 months hasn’t been Cameron’s gain.

But Miliband’s lack of clarity now exists on multiple levels. Three months from an election the leader is still unable to communicate to the public what he and his party stand for, in broad terms, beyond a somewhat pleasing shopping-list of policies. As one prominent commentator (privately) wrote over email: “Labour has never chosen the ditch it is willing to die in – economically speaking – and that flows into every other policy area.”

The other lack of clarity is around Miliband’s own ambitions. The leader’s argument was always that he would focus on changing the country in a way that wasn’t about tax-and-spend but deeper, structural reform. But there is little evidence of this: the community-organising revolution or voter registration drive he promised to activists didn’t materialise; challenging of vested interests has been haphazard and accompanied by pandering to the Sun; there has been pitiful focus on financial regulation or dealing with too-big-to-fail banks.

Can any Labour activist name three ways in which Labour promise to fundamentally reform the economy for working people? Miliband’s problem isn’t that he is bereft of ideology or a willingness to challenge inequality, it’s that he’s been convinced by advisors that he is already radical enough. The leadership now live in hope that if they repeat their messages enough, voters will get the clarity that had (mysteriously!) eluded them earlier.

We can say this for Miliband: he shifted Labour in a positive direction on most issues and has gone further than other contenders to the throne would have. But, as one ex-Milibandite said separately: “I can’t argue with a straight face that Ed is proposing radical change.”

When I meet advisors close to Miliband to talk about the lack of clarity, they admit it has been an issue and he would change closer to the election. But we are now three months away, and his team have spent half a week being derailed by one attack from the owner of Boots. The question of what Miliband stands for has become more urgent than ever before, but we are nowhere near finding out.

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  • Arron Blue

    Well, according to Brown, Murphy and McTernan he stands for more devolution to Scotland.

    • Tommo

      And more cost for us English taxpayers

      • Arron Blue

        Well, Tommo, I’m sure everyone in England thinks the “united” kingdom is worth every penny.
        Rule Britannia!

  • Tommo

    He doesn’t seem to know himself.

  • CrunchieTime

    Let’s be frank about this. Whatever he stands for might not be what he stands for in a couple of weeks time, depending upon how well it plays in the media.

    I watched him the other day talking in response to Cameron’s education funding announcement and it was pretty obvious that he was making it all up as he went along. It makes me wonder just what the Labour Party Conference is for, because it’s certainly no longer about agreeing policy.

  • Michelle

    Good analysis Sunny. I have no doubt that Ed is a man of strong principles, but his desire not to scare the horses has been acting as a gag, through which his message on inequality is being muffled. Time to rip off the gag and shout his message loud and clear. If he doesn’t the Tories will surely win.

    • Boy Charioteer

      Unfortunately when he took a photo opportunity by posing holding up a copy of “The Sun” newspaper, a shadow of doubt passed over his “strong principles” as far as I was concerned. Too, his muted or rather non existent “congratulation” of Syzira’s election victory in Greece not only smacked of churlishness, but also gave off an aura of bad advice and indecision. It’s almost as if someone is whispering in his ear: “don’t say this, don’t say that, it might be gift to the hostile media”. Unfortunately unless he sacks his advisers or starts making decisions that aren’t run by his spinmeisters first, he is always going to look without conviction and indecisive.

      • Michelle

        I agree. Some poor decisions have added to that sense of a lack of conviction. The Sun debacle shook me up too. The lack of exuberant congrats toward Syriza I get, but only because Labour tied themselves to the austerity mask, which I believe was a mistake. However I do believe the conviction is there. If Ed was a dictator I think his radicalism would come out. It’s his desire to keep a very divided party united that is leaching the colour out of Labours offer to the electorate. Sometimes you have to take sides.

        • treborc1

          The four times he did it including wearing the tee shirt just as the police were and the Sun were being highlighted for Hillsboro, this was not bad judgement this was to prove to Murdock Miliband was available and ready.

      • Doug Smith

        Why should it take “whispering in his ear”?

        Miliband must be responsible for his own actions. No one could compel him to participate in a publicity stunt for the Sun newspaper. No one could force from him his mealy-mouthed response to the Syriza victory.

        If he was advised he probably went along with the advice because it was what he wanted to do.

        The same goes for Labour/MIliband’s backing for TTIP and support for the private sector within the an NHS (as Burnham recently admitted on Newsnight).

        Labour no longer offers an alternative to the Tories.

        • Boy Charioteer

          Yes, unfortunately I think that you are right. The choice between the parties in May appear to be varying degrees of austerity. What Miliband’s position on this is, who can tell. His silence on what he should be screaming out on, like the example you gave on TTIP speaks volumes.

          • treborc1

            Well I think the answer is Blair is in the back ground screaming into Miliband ear, his other ear will have Mandelson locked onto it.

    • Sheik Rhat el Anrhol

      My understanding of the `inequality’ thing is that it is a euphemism for wealth distribution, which is itself is a euphemism for leftist dogma.

      The electorate does not like any of it as we can plainly see.

      • Michelle

        The electorate are ready for such ‘dogma’ hence the surge in support for the Greens and the SNP, both who are seen to be more left than Labour on several issues. Labours problems stem from being too Tory.

        • Sheik Rhat el Anrhol

          I suspect that this assessment is incorrect but I can see the (rather naive) logic. It may be that disgust with Labour and a dogmatic inability to vote Tory may be the answer to your question.

          • Michelle

            Disgust is not a word I would use, disillusionment maybe, despair even. Labour need to break from neoliberal dogma to turn this around.

          • Sheik Rhat el Anrhol

            My suggestion is that the electorate seems to be viewing this from an opposite perspective to your own if the polls are any guide, and they have been getting more accurate over the last twenty years.

            I don’t think that Labour stands much chance of a majority and the Tories, who are at present neck and neck do have the advantage of incumbency which on most previous elections has translated into a roughly 6% advantage during the last stages.

            If this repeats itself the Tories would win a clear, but small majority and this may indicate the electorate’s view of leftist politics.

            I live a broad most of the time so i don’t have much of an axe to grind but it is very interesting to see.

          • Michelle

            I am glad you have brought up recent polls . This was reported after recent polling – “Around two-thirds of voters support a 50p tax rate, a mansion tax, stronger workers’ rights, a compulsory living wage and the renationalisation of the railways and the privatised utilities (actually putting them well to the left of Labour leader.”
            Labour need to take this on board, stop trying to appease the Blairites and the right wing press and as I said before, make a break from neoliberalism, to win back enough support to win an outright majority.

          • Sheik Rhat el Anrhol

            I am just suggesting that all the indications are that you are misreading the Zeitgeist. I would be happy to see a link to this poll and read the question posed.

            It is interesting that there has not been a party in the UK elected from a leftist position for more than fifty years and it seems very doubtful that this is going to happen now.

            From my reading of the voting intention polls, this seems to be indicated.

            It is to be welcomed that there are lots of different opinions extant but I do not think yours will form the basis of an election victory. I may be wrong but Ed Miliband and indeed yourself, do not have long to wait.

            It is a common error that after a Labour defeat, people complain that the defeat was caused by the electoral stance being to far to the right and then those same people repeat the error.

            Einstein had a good description of this error.

          • Michelle

            The poll I quoted was reported in the New Statesman last May. Just google ‘the public to the left of labour’ and you will find plenty of polls. You could also check out a website called vote for policies .org. This asks people policy questions without attributing the policy statements to any particular party, so people answer honestly, free of bias. This is the current standing of each party based on the policies the public preferred –
            Green Party
            Lib Dems
            As you can see, the right wing parties policies are the least popular. Of course people are influenced by a predominantly right wing media that pushes the view that a turn to the left would be catastrophic, however with the growth of social media and the decline in newspaper readership, I hope that in the not too distant future, left leaning parties will have their day.

          • Sheik Rhat el Anrhol

            Polls all depend upon the question posed.

            It looks more than likely to me that the electorate, which should not be denigrated or politically underestimated will bury Labour in Scotland and Labour will lose the general election.

            It is looking more than possible now that the Tories will win a very small but clear majority.

            If this turns out to be the case, can you possibly still be right or are you changing the facts to fit your narrative or, alternatively, placing too great an emotional input into the probabilities?

            To me, it is all rather academic.

          • Michelle

            You seem to be missing my point regarding the website vote for policies. When you vote for the policies you prefer you have no idea which party they belong to. Tribalism, media bias etc, play no role. And in those circumstances, the vast majority favour left leaning policies. The reason Labour are being trashed in Scotland is because they are seen as a Tory lite party. In other words, labour have not gone to the left enough, supporting my argument that their support for austerity etc, is going to lose them the election.

          • Sheik Rhat el Anrhol

            People like to see themselves as altruistic but that is not how they vote en mass.

            The argument that Labour has not shifted to the left enough is always trotted out after a defeat and it is equally always the wrong reason.

            Blair knew this and he won three consecutive elections from the centre and the Labour left has known only defeat ever since.

            My assessment is that they will this time around too.

            I simply do not think that our politically sophisticated electorate will elect a left wing government (and all the embarrassing kindergarten dogma that goes with it) if you do not mind me saying this.

            But of course I may be wrong.

          • Michelle

            As vote for policies demonstrates, the vast majority of people are instinctively left leaning, however the majority of the media is right wing. Not just the paper media, but the supposedly neutral tv and broadcasting media, which regurgitates right wing headlines as if they are neutral. This influence cannot be underestimated. This is not an underestimation of the people, simply common sense. Labour always have an uphill battle on their hands with regard to funding and newspaper support. Tony Blair secured that support through his Tory lite policies. Ed has only moved a smidge to the left and already the headlines are almost rabid in their anti Ed hysteria. However I believe Ed can and must speak loudly and clearly over the heads of the press, to be in with a chance of being prime minister.

          • Sheik Rhat el Anrhol

            You look to me (from a far distance of course) as a person very anxious to adjust the facts to suit your required narrative.

            My assessment for what it is worth is that the election will result in a Tory majority and I am not thrilled by that.

            There is a common misconception about newspapers amongst the left who see them as a gang disposed to attack them purely dogmatically.

            Actually a newspaper is a business like any other and whose political views will change like a chameleon to support the majority if it wishes to stay in business and attract advertising.

            The very few leftist publications surviving in the UK are solvent because very few people read them and this is because the majority do not espouse their views.

            UK general elections tend to be won from the centre and my guess is that this one will be also.

          • Boy Charioteer

            “The very few leftist publications surviving in the UK are solvent because very few people read them….” ???
            Actually the three main parties have moved so far to the right (privatization, tax cuts for the wealthy, deregulation of the financial markets etc. all in a an unholy consensus) that they are in danger of pushing each other off an ever narrowing ledge.

          • Michelle

            I think the bottom line here is my narrative does not fit your narrative. As for your suggestion that the media switch to follow the mood/will of the people, I almost laughed. The media is run by the rich and powerful and will steer the overwhelmed, over stretched, self doubting electorate to vote for whichever party suits their personal interests. As vote for policies strongly indicates, the vast majority favour left leaning policies but the media do not and never will reflect this. I hope you don’t mind me saying this but I find your outlook a touch naive.

          • Sheik Rhat el Anrhol

            The Daily Mirror and The Sun are examples of titles who have changed their allegiance simply to attract readership and revenue. The Mail would do the same in a trice if your contention that the public was instinctively leftist, which is simply laughable, as we will see without doubt once again in the forthcoming election.

            You use the excuse so prevalent in leftist circles that the media somehow persuades weak minded and gullible electors to vote the way they say.

            The opposite is in fact the case.

            It is extremely easy to sell leftist politics to unintelligent and poorly educated people but it is impossible to do so to well educated middle class people unless there is a major political/financial crisis (as we are seeing in Greece and Argentina and France and Venezuela).I do not for a moment mean this as any sort of insult to anyone.

            Dogmatic people of the far left never change their mindset. I know that. But they are always in the tiny minority and are always very resentful of that. It is a sort of arrogance I suppose.

          • Michelle

            The sun only changed their allegiance once they were convinced Blair posed no threat to the neo liberal consensus. When did the mirror change its allegiance? It’s always been labour supporting, at least in my life time and I am 44. I am not calling anyone weak minded. My nan for instance was a strong woman and a kind woman, who left school aged 13 to help her parents support her 8 younger siblings in tough times. But when it came to politics, she always deferred to people she believed knew more than her, namely the right wing rag she read. Yes she voted tory even though they were the worst party for someone in her position. This is true for many people. I don’t suggest most people buy Ariel washing powder because they are weak minded. I suggest they choose it over others because the company who owns ariel spends more on advertising.
            The fortunate thing for the tories is they don’t have to pay for theirs. Just keep on favouring the rich and the rich will keep on influencing the poor. But newspapers have competition now in the form of social media, much utilised by the young. It’s little wonder then that young people massively favour labour and the greens.

          • Boy Charioteer

            I saw Charles Dance interviewed once. He said that his Father’s generation voted Conservative because they believed they should vote for their “betters” and not their equals. If my memory serves me right, he was quite depressed about it.

          • Michelle

            Robert Tressel named the paper in his wonderful illuminating book ‘the ragged trousered philanthropist’ the daily obscurer. That says it all.

          • Boy Charioteer

            Just out of curiosity in your “factual” expose, when did the Daily Mirror “switch allegiance simply to attract readership and revenue”? I understand that the Daily Mail was once upon a time in thrall to Oswald Mosley’s Blackshirts. A debate could be had on that fact alone, as to whether it’s allegiance today has changed or not. The majority of newspapers reflect the views of the wealthy and powerful. It is not a question of selling “leftist politics to poorly educated people”. How perverse: 1992 “It’s The Sun Wot won it!” Anybody who voted Tory because “The Sun” told them to, how do you define them? “Selling rightist policies to poorly educated people”? It is a question of the media instilling a climate of fear of any change from the status quo that manipulates people into voting Conservative. When Murdoch thought that Blair was “on the same page” and didn’t threaten Murdoch’s plan for media domination and the Major government looked tired and worn out Blair got the nod. When Labour were surplus to requirements and of no further use, they were ditched faster than an Everton scarf in the Liverpool changing room.

          • RegisteredHere

            I don’t think so, but someone has done a decent job of selling an opinion to you it seems?

            The Sun is a Murdoch rag, and it’s a politically right-wing paper like they all are whether in the UK, Australia and US, while the Mirror hasn’t changed its allegiance at all, and the Mail used to support Oswald Mosley!

            As for the claim that the country is generally more left-wing than right wing, you might like to cast your eye over the general election results form the last 60-70 years or so. Less of a laughable contention; more of a solid fact.

          • Adam Peak

            If the majority are, as you claim, left-leaning, then politics has found a way of defying logic and maths. The majority opinion should be seen as the centre ground. Normal people want to be normal, not way out on left field. Or right, for that matter. Aiming to be a left leaning government is dysfunctional and deluded, totally wrong for the country and really rather selfish if you ask me, not caring that normals don’t actually want to define themselves as left. Blair understood this and won three elections on the trot. NORMAL people want to be in the centre. Therefore that’s what makes the best position from which to form a credible and effective, electable government. Only weirdos on the fringes want a non-centrist government.

          • Michelle

            Right wing politics has big business and a rabidly anti left wing/Blairite media on their side. Because as you say, people don’t always automatically think of themselves as left or right wing, in fact an increasing number feel totally disenfranchised from politics, they are not even consciously aware of their own leanings. That’s where a website like vote for policies is so good. Generally people at their core prefer socialist policies because they instinctively know they produce a better, happier and healthier society. I recommend the book the spirit level.

          • RegisteredHere

            The Tories are heavily dependent on the electoral system used in UK general elections (Labour only slightly less so), which largely conceals the fact that the UK as a whole is generally more left wing than right wing.

            Wishful thinking either way isn’t going to make any difference.

          • Sheik Rhat el Anrhol

            Yes this certainly seems true in London but the incumbent Government usually (well always really) enjoys a boost (about 6% normally) near the end of the campaigning.

            I was reading a couple of days ago that a one term Government has not lost an election since the war but I have not checked the veracity of this.

          • RegisteredHere

            I don’t think it’s possible to predict very much in the current climate, because 2015 will represent another step-change in post-internet politics, where the main parties no longer have very much control over the debate and they have no control over the bulk of the media.

            In this environment, the collective intelligence of the electorate has arguably surpassed that of Westminster already.

          • Sheik Rhat el Anrhol

            Fascinating times to say the least, unless of course the chatrooms and social media turn out to make no discernible difference.

            It is the oldies in the main who do the voting – or did anyway.

          • RegisteredHere

            Yes, fascinating times.

            I think the English Parliament debate is an interesting example, because no party has proposed this, and the government has studiously ignored it for what I assume are protectionist reasons (see my point about FPTP and the Tories above), but it’s there nonetheless; likewise TTIP.

            I think the internet makes a big difference.

          • The Tory party is hugely unpopular. It is aging and non existent in large parts of the country. The trouble is that millions of people do not see the point of voting for Labour either and it is not because it is left wing. Social democratic parties are in trouble all over Europe because of their inability to offer clear solutions to the distress of the people and they are being overtaken on their left.

          • Sheik Rhat el Anrhol

            Well I am certainly no fan of the Tories but they seem to be polling about equal to Labour at present so does that indicate that Labour is equally unpopular?

            I just try to be unemotional and realistic. I’m not tribal by nature and I will always vote according to policy rather than philosophical dogma (or class hatred come to that).

          • As I said it shows that people are massively disillusioned with them and its been coming on for years.

      • Boy Charioteer

        Great that you can so consicely speak for the will of the electorate with such certainty. My congratulations on your perception and intuition, Sheik. But of course the electorate are quite happy with the massive transfer of wealth from the poor to the stinking rich, which is “rightist” dogma in action. No euphemisms needed.

        • Sheik Rhat el Anrhol

          `massive transfer of wealth from the poor to the stinking rich’ – this may be true but I don’t understand how it works. Perhaps you can explain.

          In any event, I was merely suggesting that perhaps the British electorate do not like the politics of the left and vote accordingly.

          This is the way it seems from previous elections and from the current polling.

          • Boy Charioteer

            Tax cuts for the rich. Benefit cuts for the poor would be a start. Zero hour contracts. Stagnation of wages in real value, how long have you got? And of course the public not liking the politics of “the left” mean that the right are going to steamroller their way to a massive majority in May, yes? Also a “vote for policies” poll put the Green Party in 1st. place in a “blind poll” where people did not know what party they were voting for, just the policies. It is widely surmised by some political commentators that the Green Party have a “left” position on the political spectrum. Not scientific, I will grant you, but I am not pretending to know how the electorate will vote in May.

          • RegisteredHere

            The politics of the ‘right’ hasn’t received a popular majority in any British general election since WWII, and in 2010 the Tories scraped just 25% of the vote.

  • treborc1

    The real problem is a simple one Trust, can you trust a labour party the last one tried it’s best to become the Tories .

    Now we have a leader who is not red he is not we are told blue he is in fact a Progress Purple , as one chap at progress put it a bit of red a bit of Blue makes purple.

    We do not hear near enough about the people of this country pensioners are now in the scrounging class with welfare scroungers, they take and do not give.

    We are trying to get pensioners to work so they can live on low pensions they work and our younger population sit waiting for a job.

    I’ve never seen a mess like this a banking crises and we have a labour party that is to the right not the left proclaiming they will take the center ground and stand up for the people in the middle, well how many are in the middle most will either be to the left or to the right those in the middle will be the swing voters who wait to see the best bet for them.

    The world is in a mess the banking crises and labour two wars has made this world a dangerous place with pilots being burned, Miliband says he did not agree with the wars but he said very little about it and was in fact Blair speech writer for those wars.

    You cannot sit on the fence because somebody will knock you off, and so far look at one of labour biggest policies announcements the Living wage, now it dropped down to well maybe one day perhaps.

    The people are looking for somebody who has a view which is not austerity look in Scotland but all the two parties are doing is austerity and labour has no answer to it.

    Sorry but I’m to the left I’m not in the center or to the right , nor am I easy to get back to vote on some ideology which is more Progress more New labour.

    I do not vote for puppets I vote for strong leadership, and sadly labour in the past few years have been more bloody Tory then socialist.

  • Markham Weavill

    Would it really make any difference who is Labour Party leader? I think not. Too many policies do not interest the floating voters, or even the core Labour voter. Too many are just austerity-lite. Voters look from one to the other of the two major parties and see differences only at the margins. The real impact of cuts to local authority budgets have so far only been felt by the voiceless in our society. Over the next three years both parties have promised to turn the screw more tightly, in my authorities case by £69 million. I’ll be interested to see what happens when the cuts affect the more articulate in the community.

    Too many voters looking at the major parties will decide to stick with the devil they know.

  • David Pickering

    Miliband stands for Miliband, and he is willing to harm almost anyone in his attempt to become PM.

    Just one example: Miliband introduced a statute that hurt millions of poor people, and then complained about the hurt the poor were suffering. In order to alleviate the hurt he caused, he decided the state should intervene in markets, which promptly hurt the poor even more.

    Miliband is either an incompetent, or his Messiah complex blinds him to the suffering he causes in his quest to give his sermon on the mount.

  • Ben Gardner

    Ed Miliband is not an appropriate candidate for Prime Minister – it’s as simple as that. He doesn’t have the necessary skill set to deal with the job. I want Labour to win in May but my concerns about him in number 10 are only outweighed by those of another Tory government. Labour should have had the courage to remove him long ago (also see Brown 2010).

    • RegisteredHere

      I’ve read countless stories relating the myriad ways in which Miliband is apparently useless, but for the life of me I really cannot understand why he’s considered any more or less appropriate than Cameron, Clegg, Bennet or Farage.

      • Ben Gardner

        First of all he has very poor communication skills, not helpful when you’re suppose to be representing a country. He’s also a poor debater, suggesting that he doesn’t think well on his feet. There’s no evidence that he has any sort of vision for the UK and his lack of real world background makes me worried that he doesn’t really understand it.

        But you don’t have to take my opinion – just look at the polling data. As poster put on another thread, he’s less popular than Cameron in Glasgow. Glasgow.

        • RegisteredHere

          I know the polls have Miliband well behind Cameron, but that wouldn’t exclude the possibility that everyone has merely assumed that everyone else thinks he’s a poor candidate and sat with the flow. As I said, I don’t understand the reasoning.

          I’d agree with you on his vision (although why we’d expect to see that in time for the Conservatives to think up an answer is another question), but he’s no worse than Cameron in a debate (Cameron can’t even answer a question!), and his communication skills and previous experience are certainly no worse than any of the other leaders.

          • Michelle

            He swayed me from voting for Andy B after I watched him at the leadership hustings. He is actually head and shoulders above Cameron. Last years conference speech was a bit flat but the year before was fantastic, awarded the best conference speech award by the right wing spectator! I sometimes think Ed is a bit of a Wayne Rooney, often a bit flat with flashes of genius. Makes him interesting at least.

  • bikerboy

    Ed believes that anyone and everyone has equal merit and acumen to be Prime Minister. So why not him?

    Answered that for you

  • Jimmy Sands

    “He had to balance those who rejected austerity with those who thought Labour had spent too much; those who wanted a positive message on immigration with the fact that Labour lost massive trust on the issue; to make a break from New Labour while maintaining peace with the powerful bloc of Blairites.”

    What does this even mean? You set out polar opposite positions and say they need to be balanced? Finessed? Fudged? Brushed under the carpet? What he had to to was not “balance” but decide and he doesn’t seem to be very good at this.

  • Malcolm McCandless

    It is never too late to change your leader to win an election.

  • Sheik Rhat el Anrhol

    It looks like Rotherham Council will soon be Price Waterhouse Council for the time being.

    • bikerboy

      www rotherham gov uk /councillors/63/roger_stone

      Not fit for purpose

  • paul barker

    As an outsider (Libdem) it seems to me that Labour supporters are slagging Milliband for doing what he said he would do, keeping Labour together. You had a choice in 2010, Milliband or split & you chose not to split. Milliband is no worse than Kinnock or Foot who were both Elected as Unity candidates.
    Its way too late to change course now, that decision is for May 8th.

  • robertcp

    Miliband’s approach seems to combine keeping Labour united and not scaring off the voters with anything too radical. It is not exactly inspiring but I have not seen a better approach suggested.

    • Grouchy Oldgit

      If you try to be all things to all men you end up being nothing to no one. The present gov’t is truly appalling but Ed’s poll ratings are consistently close to the 2010 debacle. Better Labour try to serve its natural constituency than appeal to those who will prefer real Tories to fake ones. The only real voice of the left these days is the Greens and thanks to stupid FPTP a vote for them essentially helps the right.

  • Grouchy Oldgit

    He could show some balls by committing to council housing and railway nationalisation. But he doesn’t. Is he saving the good stuff for the manifesto? Or does he secretly foresee another crash and doesn’t want the poison chalice of office?

  • Stephen Rogers

    I really don’t know why Ed even tries, because all he gets his advice from armchair politicians. I suggest you stand to be leader Sunny. How does it go, those who do, do, those who can’t, write critical articles in, so called, Labour supportiing papers. I am really fed up of reading negative articles and comments in this paper. Do people really want a Labour government in power ?

  • RWP

    “We can say this for Miliband: he shifted Labour in a positive direction on most issues and has gone further than other contenders to the throne would have. But, as one ex-Milibandite said separately: “I can’t argue with a straight face that Ed is proposing radical change.”

    You can say positive things about Neil Kinnock’s leadership, but so what? He lost. Let’s focus on winning.

    Meanwhile, Tony Blair didn’t promise radical change but he didn’t have to – if you look like a strong, decisive, energetic leader then you can get elected with a substantial majority without a radical agenda.

    • Michelle

      Tony Blair got in after 18 years of tory rule and the people were gagging for change. To be fair to Ed, had he been leader in 97 he would now be online to be our next pm with a stonking majority. Timing is just as important as the person.

  • MikeHomfray

    The reality is that whichever way the party falls they will lose a bloc of voters. There is no majority for any one party

  • KC Gordon

    Anyone who has met Miliband will realize that he is a genuine bloke. The trouble is that not many have met him – some thing I have been banging on to LP barons and grandees for two years now. He really needs to show a bit of leadership and get out on the stump like John Major did.

    • Web Weaver

      But he got on the stump today at his people’s questions time and got heckled by a Labour supporter, didn’t he?
      If you think Ed getting to talk to more people in the flesh is the solution you’re sorely mistaken

  • giselle97

    Heh Sunny – a more appropriate question for you to ask would be where are the meek and almost cowardly shadow cabinet whole sole job in life after breathing should be backing the Leader.

    I know where they are, the little sh1tes – with a few exceptions.

    Ed Miliband has told me by his behaviour alone all I need to know which is that he is a new breed of politician, unlike most of them, a person of honesty and stature who may just save the current sh1tty and corrupted, self-serving “parliament” for a time beyond the end of my life-time when it might wake up and smell the roses.

    Stop all the self-serving back-biting and start supporting him. He can’t fight the vile, vicious right wing bastards on his own.

  • treborc1

    If Labour wants people to vote for it then it has to be honest it has to speak to everyone not just those lucky enough to be in work.
    And to be honest if labour does not keep it promises after the next election we could see labour becoming as the Liberals did a political party on the way out.

    It’s taken a while for the liberals to be found out, I do think many on the left within the Liberals will now be heading for the Greens, they should be returning to labour sadly that’s not worth bothering with.

    Labour new card should read “once proud socialist party now the party of people in work, it’s in the name”.

    This is why labour are so interested in the young voters they think they do not really know what we are like so will fall for us, but I think parents and friends will remind them.

    It would be interesting to see who is the power within the labour movement today my guess it still Blair.


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