Thursday, 7 October 2010

Ed Miliband - is he still there?

Is that where Red Ed writes his speaking notes?
Labour party leader Ed Miliband has been trying to get some media coverage for the last week or so, but there has been little coming from him that has been worthy of mention, and certainly nothing of sufficient significance to warrant being compiled into one of my daily round-ups, which is why there haven't been any for a while.

Now, admittedly media attention has been concentrated on the Conservative conference during the past five days, and will continue to some extent for a few more days. Despite that, Ed-M could have been bolder and more leader-like and not limited to cautious comments regarding seemingly threatened public sector strikes.

I have been watching every day for something worthwhile to report, but there has either been nothing or I have managed to miss it! Of course, we have the new Shadow Cabinet to be formed: nineteen  from a pool of 49 Labour MPs who have put themselves forward, to be elected before Ed places them into his "Shad Cab". That will be news, and rightly so, whatever shape it takes, and there should be inferences observers can draw from those appointments by "Red Ed".

It's a fair assumption that the nineteen names elected will be some kind of mixture of left and centre-right, Brownites, Blairites and others not in or from either of those camps. The numbers from each wing of the party will be significant, as will the posts to which they are then appointed by the new Dear Leader.

Suitability versus cronyism/favours will be looked at by commentators, and I might produce my own assessment here, either before reading anyone else's or evaluating a range of other views - possibly both (a before-and-after double-post, perhaps).

In the meantime, I have just seen what Iain Martin has written today about Ed. He states that Ed is "starting at rock bottom" with "low expectations", and "needs a brilliant few months, starting now" if he is to survive as party leader beyond the end of this year. That last bit (the short time scale) seems unrealistic to me, but that view doesn't come from Iain himself and he is just passing it on.

I'd have thought, personally, that Ed would have until at least next spring's local and other elections (such as Holyrood) before any rumblings begin in earnest. It tends to be poor electoral results that cause a party to look severely at its leadership, as party members, including surviving MPs and councillors, feel their own positions are under threat and they really don't like that.

There has been some good news for Labour in recent months, including in by-elections. As public spending is reigned in during coming months, and the Liberal Democrats are perceived to be as much a part of the cause of that as the Tories, I am expecting that good news to continue and to grow for quite a while yet.

The so-called cuts will be a strong recruitment aid for Labour, and an electoral advantage in elections during the next two or three years; but it will pass as the country gets back on its feet. Thus Ed Miliband should be able to find a way to survive, as he has a number of good cards in his hand at the moment, with more yet to be dealt to him. It is my hope that he does stay as Labour leader, as it will make it easier to keep his party out of government at the 2015 General Election.

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