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Saturday, January 01, 2011

Is harmony breaking out for the New Year?

This morning's Independent contains an interesting article that suggests that despite facing the open goal of a Coalition Government implementing unpopular measures to put right Labour's ecoonomic mess, the opposition themselves are far from united.

The paper says that a close ally of Ed Miliband has urged Labour to rally behind him and accept that he has a mandate for his policies:

Maria Eagle, the shadow Transport Secretary, hit back at sniping at Mr Miliband's performance since he defeated his brother David for the Labour leadership. He clocks up 100 days in his job tomorrow.

"Ed won, fair and square," she said, dismissing criticism that he relied on trade union support and won fewer voters than his brother among MPs and party members. "Everyone who entered that contest knew what the electoral college was and how it worked. That is the end of it," she said.

The paper reports that insiders admit there are tensions over whether Labour's official policies are those in the party's general election manifesto or "Ed's policies":

Ms Eagle argued that the central issues on which Mr Miliband fought his leadership campaign were now the "starting point" for Labour's wholesale policy review. They include a permanent 50p rate of tax and a graduate tax to fund universities – both of which have been opposed by Alan Johnson, the shadow Chancellor – and incentives to encourage employers to pay a £7.60 an hour "living wage", higher than the £5.93 an hour national minimum wage.

There is also talk of Labour losing momentum and of sniping from Blairites who claim Miliband is wrong to dump a New Labour brand which won three general elections. The paper lists a series of lows for the Miliband leadership, which are contributing to depress Labour's support. Admittedly, some of this is misplaced perception but they are important nevertheless. These are:

Shambolic interview on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, when he struggles to define the "squeezed middle"

Poor PMQs session in November in which Cameron asks when he was "going to start" doing his job

Not escaping shadow of his brother David, as some Labour MPs wonder whether the party picked "the wrong Miliband"

His two-week paternity leave fuelled criticism that the party is drifting and lacks vision.

It is right of course that things could be going better for the Coalition Government and the Liberal Democrats in particular, but it is a new year and nobody should write us off yet, certainly whilst Labour itself is still in disarray..
Labour in disarray led by Miliband with 42%, Lib Dems united under Clegg with 8% (YouGov). Hmm.
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