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Friday, January 03, 2014

2013 was a bad year for Ed Miliband

Glancing through the websites of the national newspapers today I came across this assessment in the Telegraph by Dan Hodges of Ed Miliband's year.

Dan Hodges is no friend of the Labour leader, but even so his opinion is worth listening to and he pinpoints precisely why Ed Miliband is failing to make a wider impact:

Ed Miliband has entered 2014 with a spring in his step. It was on prominent display in his New Year’s message, which basically consisted of a video of our putative next prime minister walking around a lot.

Where he was walking wasn’t entirely clear. There was a clip of him proceeding alone down the concourse at Waterloo Station, looking a little lost. Then another clip of him wandering across

Waterloo Bridge, where he appeared to stop to give someone directions. Finally he doubled back on himself and started hanging around the South Bank, apparently in the hope that someone would ask him for a selfie; which, fortunately, they did. At that point it was starting to get dark, so Ed got into his car and just sat there for a bit, looking thoughtful.

In between, there were some shots of him in front of a large Christmas tree empathising with people over the cost-of-living crisis. “People don’t want the earth,” he said, philosophically. “They’d prefer some very specific promises.” So I waited for them. But all we got was a repeat of the energy price-freeze pledge, and a vague commitment to do something about loan sharks and the cost of child care.

There is a common perception – one shared by Ed Miliband and his inner circle – that 2013 was their year. They retain what has come to be described as a “solid” poll lead. Miliband himself is seen to have again seized and set the political agenda. Victory in 2015, while not a racing certainty, is now viewed as a distinct possibility.

Those in Labour’s ranks who look back over the past 12 months through that comforting prism are wrong, however. The new year is only a few hours old. And already we have discovered that in 2013 the Labour Party learnt nothing.

He says Ed Miliband needed to seize the initiative on the issue of the moment, the flatlining economy:

He had to build a solid policy framework to support his new One Nation narrative, especially in those key areas where he had so far ducked tough decisions, such as public spending cuts, welfare and immigration. Crucially, he had to answer the question bedevilling his party since the 2008 crash – how does a modern Left-of-centre movement make itself relevant at a time where there is no money to spend?

Yet Ed Miliband did none of those things. The past year saw him gripped by paralysis. Rather than set out a compelling alternative economic prospectus, Labour instead took to mouthing a repetitive chant: “Too far, too fast. Too far, too fast.” There was a half-hearted effort to match Tory spending targets, but only on what was called “day-to-day expenditure”. A commitment to crack down on welfare unravelled after Miliband refused to confirm that he would actually cut benefit payments for anyone. The attempt to recycle Gordon Brown’s “British jobs for British workers” line on immigration was mockingly dubbed “rivers of blunder”.

And on the most fundamental question of all – how does a progressive political party recast society in its image in an age of austerity? – there was no answer. In fact, there wasn’t even an attempt at an answer. A year that began with calls for Labour to recapture the spirit of 1945 ended with a promise to cut energy bills by £5.80 a month, ban fixed-odds betting terminals and tackle the pernicious sexism of Thomas the Tank Engine.

He concludes that on the two issues that matter in politics,  the economy and leadership, then in 2013 Labour’s credibility deficit in both areas has widened. On the economy, the party has now effectively given up trying to win the argument, whilst negative public perceptions surrounding their leader are hardening rather than softening.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but you've just posted Dan Hodges' article in its entirety with one line at the end that basically says "I agree". Well you would, wouldn't you?

It has been a good year for Miliband, whose only problem has been that it is so far out from an election and he has to keep up this momentum for 18 months. Similarly, it has been another terrible year for the Lib Dems, whose polling nationally remains resolutely around the 10% mark. You will come 4th in the European elections and may well do so in 2015. Can you really post anything with such a triumphalist headline about opponents who are likely to take 75% of your seats next time round?>
Actually, I missed out about five paragraphs of the article. A year is a long time in politics and I think we will wait to see what happens in 2015 rather than make assumptions made on the basis of polls. As for Ed Miliband having a good year well I think Dan Hodges has shown otherwise.

P.S. Blog is short for weblog which is a log of things of interest on the internet. That has always been my approach. It does not always have to be original.
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