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Sunday, August 11, 2013

A summer of silence

Today's Observer argues that Labour's virtual silence over the long summer recess is losing it support. More importantly, it shows that the party is devoid of ideas and fresh thinking:

This weekend, the shadow health secretary, Andy Burnham, admitted that Labour needed to "speak louder … put our cards on the table." Today's Opinium/Observer poll shows Labour dropping three percentage points from two weeks ago to 36%, taking its lead over the Tories to only seven points. Some senior figures in the party suggest that Labour's silence for much of the summer is symptomatic of a lack of resources and forward planning – the email sent to shadow ministers in July asked for ideas, not necessarily fully worked-out ones, by the end of the next day. More worrying still, others say the lack of response to that rather panicky email suggests a party devoid of fresh thinking.

Michael Meacher MP, a minister for the environment under Tony Blair, is not necessarily of that mind. He is a firm supporter of Miliband, voted for him over his brother David in the leadership election three years ago, and believes in him. But his frustration at a lack of counter-narrative to the Tory message of austerity, in particular, is widely shared within the Labour ranks. "I would like the Labour party to speak out more strongly about the positive alternative," Meacher told the Observer. "Maybe it will when the manifesto comes to be published, but there is, I think, a lack of wider discussion and a bit of a void."

The main opposition party is faltering, without any clear leadership. It is no wonder that complaints about Ed Miliband are growing.
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