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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Dithering Miliband faces more splits

The Times reports that Ed Miliband has been urged to stop dithering over the next Labour manifesto amid growing fears that he may duck radical measures and adopt a safety-first approach to next year’s election.

They say that friction has emerged between Douglas Alexander, the Shadow Foreign Secretary and election co-ordinator, and Jon Cruddas, who is running the party’s policy review, emerged over the scale of ambition for the manifesto. They add that the party has yet to fully set out its policies on issues such as social care, childcare, housing and the railways:

Mr Cruddas is pushing the party to promise a wider reorganisation that would strip Whitehall’s responsibilities for these areas and hand power to local councils. There are growing fears that many of the plans will be blocked by Mr Alexander, who is urging caution.

The issue has been given fresh urgency by a tightening in the polls, three of which put Labour’s lead at one point while a fourth, ComRes for The Independent, saw a fall from 8 to 5 points.

“Douglas wants a narrowly-drawn offer for voters, like we had in 1997,” said one senior Labour source. “That’s not an option this time.”

Mr Miliband’s office is also blamed for dampening the leader’s personal enthusiasm for radical change, with some arguing that there is little need to risk the remaining poll lead.

Mr Cruddas has forged a significant series of alliances from the right and left of the party, teaming up with Lord Adonis, the former Blairite transport secretary, who is holding a growth review, and Chuka Umunna, the Shadow Business Secretary. Yesterday their agenda was backed publicly by 19 leading figures from groups including the Fabian Society, Compass, the Policy Network and Progress. They said they were uneasy at the prospect of Mr Miliband going into the election without a radical programme of change. “If Labour plays the next election safe and hopes to win on the basis of Tory unpopularity, it will not have earned a mandate for such change,” their letter said.

One signatory confirmed that the letter is designed to boost Mr Cruddas against “forces of conservatism” in the Labour Party that are trying to hold him back. This suggests that there will be uproar from across the Labour movement if he avoids Mr Cruddas’s prescriptions for change.
One involved said: “There is good Ed Miliband and bad Ed Miliband, and we need good Ed Miliband — the friend of Stewart Wood and Marc Stears [two free-thinking aides, both Oxford academics] — to triumph.”

Presumably we will get much more of this sort of negative briefing by Labour insiders as we get closer to the General Electon and Labour continue to struggle to make any impact in the polls.
You write, " ... Labour continue to struggle to make any impact in the polls." You choose to overlook the fact that the Labour Party has been consistently in the lead in opinioin polls for the last couple of years, and that the Liberal Democrats are fighting for third place.
if you are satisfied with Labour's current position in the polls and you think they can win from this position then you are deluding yourself. They should be much further ahead at this stage, that is why Miliband is under so much pressure.
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