Monday, 22 November 2010

He's back!

Going 'Ed to 'Ed
Yes, Ed Miliband has returned to political life after his two weeks of paternity leave, looking after the baby son who "looks like me" and is (therefore?) "gorgeous"! Hmm...

Anyway, what has he done so far? Well, an interview in The Guardian today tells us that he is to have a big review of the Labour party's direction as the first step in what he calls "the hard road back to power".

In practice, there is to be a policy review and a look at how the party operates internally.

This is predictable enough stuff, and we generally tend to get a "policy review" whenever a new leader takes over in any of the major political parties. It also fits in with what Andrew Rawnsley wrote in the same paper (Okay, its Sunday version called The Observer) yesterday.

However, policy-wise, we again see Red Ed seemingly clashing with views expressed by his Shadow Cabinet members. Specifically mentioned is Ed's intention to retain the 50p upper income tax rate permanently, whereas his Shadow Chancellor, Alan Johnson, has come out against doing so and believes it should be a temporary measure. Ed says the party needs to "go beyond New Labour", but that is a retrograde step back toward the mire of the Lefty "soak the rich" tax (and, presumably, spend) kind of policy, pre-Blair.

The party isn't using the same hymn sheet, not helped by Johnson referring to his leader as "Red" instead of "Ed" on the BBC today(!) Yes, it was just a slip-up, but a rather telling one. here's the (now available) clip:

All of this is therefore good news for everyone except Labour fans and supporters. That party looks like ripping itself apart, probably doing nowhere near as well at next May's local elections as they really should under the circumstances of the time, and will have to decide about their leadership. They can then either limp on with Ed-M as leader, or they can learn from the Tories and change leader again, even after just a short period.

Not that they have, even now, anyone who would make a good leader, though the other Ed (Balls) is probably, politically, the nearest they currently have. Although I still can't see how Balls won any aspect of The Spectator's annual awards (he was judged the Parliamentarian of the Year, no less), there's no denying his political skills, and that is what the Labour party needs at its top, both internally and in the wider world including a largely Labour-friendly big media sector.

This could actually happen! As Ed-M didn't make Balls his Shadow Chancellor, there is nothing to hold back the ever-ambitious "Big Ed" from scheming for an ejection of "Little Ed" and once again standing for the party leadership. If he'd been Shadow Chancellor, he'd probably have been happy there, but not where he is now!

As always with these things, only time will tell which way events will unfold. The Oldham East and Saddleworth by-election that looks likely to need to be held, and would then be called quite soon now, might be seen as a kind of barometer for Ed-M's leadership, but it's too soon and even parliamentary (as distinct from, say, council) by-elections aren't taken by those in the know as an absolute test of a party or its leader.

No: it will be next May when a large number of elections will be held up and down the country that the Labour party will make a collective judgement on how their party is performing and what if anything needs to be changed. That could well include a change of leader, so Ed Miliband must use this time wisely if he is to stand much chance of remaining in his position at the very top of the Labour party!

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