Tuesday, June 14, 2011
It's Early Days Still for Ed but he Must Raise his Game Soon or Risk Being Replaced
To be fair, Ed Balls came in for most of the apparent blame, but Ed cannot escape his past as a member of that tribal clique around the former prime minister. This would not have been so bad if Ed had not completely flunked PMQs on Wednesday, when Labour MPs, licking their lips at the expectation of the roasting Cameron would receive for his recent U turns over NHS and sentencing, had to watch, horrified, as Ed meandered feebly ion front of an open goal.
Then came the leaked speech his brother would have given had he won the leadership contest. Of historical interest only? Not really as David would have accepted some culpability for the economy's weakness and offered a reasonably clear way forward. Then came the4 Sundays with sniping articles and magisterial editorials telling him he wasn't performing to a high enough standard. The Observer cleverly led with a paean of praise to a vigorous act of opposition- that of Rowan Williams, and compared it to what Ed has so far managed.
The challenge for the Labour leader is much stiffer. In an age of presidential politics, he must turn himself into a person who inspires both trust and hope. In an era of deep scepticism about politicians, he must fashion his party into one that voters will want to return to power. On all those counts, he has a mountain to climb and is still only at base camp.
It has to be said that to date Ed has not really seemed presidential, prime ministerial or even like a leader of the Opposition. One of the key problems he faces is that the real opposition seems to be part of it: the Lib Dem bit. It's Nick Clegg's battle against Lansley's plans and the obdurate rightwing Tories who wish to see his forever seen off. Ed Miliband's voice has been lost in all that activity and diminished whatever attempts he has made.
This is not to say he needs to create a detailed paln so far ahead of the next election but he needs to indicate some themes, values and objectives designed to win back some of thoswe millions who deserted Labour during the past decade. Ed's job may be one of the toughest and most thankless in politics, but to win the next election he must appear to be a more effective leader or he will soon feel the hot breath of his would be usurpers on the back of his neck. One is clearly Ed Balls and the second, who knows, might even be his brother David.
On Monday, Ed Miliband developed a new theme - the big responsibility. Labour's new policies should be compatible with this theme.
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