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Tuesday, August 20, 2013

'Blairite cuckoo' lays into Miliband

A bit late to the party, I know,  but this piece by Dan Hodges in Sunday's Telegraph is worth a second look.

Mr. Hodges is described by the paper as a Blairite cuckoo in the Miliband nest. They say he has worked for the Labour Party, the GMB trade union and managed numerous independent political campaigns and that he writes about Labour with tribal loyalty and without reservation.  What are we to make therefore of this hatchet job?

Dan Hodges says that the People’s Party is scattering its marbles to the winds:

Its poll lead is crumbling. Surveys show that Ed Miliband is viewed as the new Nick Clegg, but without the gravitas and charisma. Fred Goodwin enjoys greater public trust on the economy than his Treasury team.

Some Labour activists and commentators seem stunned by all this panic. They point out that we are still two years from an election, that the cuts are biting and that the Tory brand remains contaminated. But for seasoned Labourologists, there is nothing surprising here. We are just witnessing another of the party’s regular collisions with the British people.

Seriously, what did Labour think was going to happen? That Ed Miliband’s brand of metropolitan liberalism would take the working people of England by storm? That pubs and supermarkets would echo to the excited chatter of people debating the merits of “The New Politics” and “One Nation Britain”? That in the midst of a recession caused by excess borrowing and debt, the voters yearned for a champion who would safeguard the livelihoods of those on benefits by whacking even more borrowing and debt on to the credit card?

It’s time for Labour to face an unpalatable fact. All those people who told the pollsters they couldn’t see Miliband as prime minister were telling the truth.

Labour’s leader is broken. The public have made their minds up about him, and they won’t be changing them this side of an election. It’s not a matter of more time, or getting to know him better, or him shouting louder, or listening harder. He has joined the ranks of those politicians that voters look at and think: “Nah, hasn’t got it”.

Labour has got to stop trying to fix Ed Miliband. They’re not going to win the next election because of him. Instead, they have to figure out how they can win despite him.

He goes on to suggest that the shadow cabinet  have to stop trying to work through Miliband, and start working around him. They also have to start saying “no” to him. He proposes a new golden rule for Ed Miliband: “The Coco Chanel strategy”, less is more, though he would prefer none at all is more but accepts that total invisibility is impractical.

He wants Ed Miliband’s appearances be kept to a bare minimum. Unless he has something new to say, he should say nothing at all. And he goes on to say that Labour should seriously consider whether to allow him to participate in the election debates:

With the interminable campaign run-in commencing, Labour strategists must adopt a Blitz mentality: “Is Ed’s journey really necessary?” More often than not, the answer will be negative.

You get the impression that Hodges does not rate the Labour leader, one iota.  He concludes:

There is still – barely – time to arrest it. If Miliband can step back, and allow his party to step up, there’s an outside chance Labour can still win. If the next election is a choice between Miliband and David Cameron, he will lose. If it is a fight between the Labour Party and the Conservative Party, he may yet prevail. Which presents Ed Miliband with a paradox: that his one chance of being prime minister is to make the British people forget that he may one day be their prime minister.

You cannot get any more damning than that.
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