Sunday, 2 January 2011

Approaching a hundred

That ever-useful commentator at the Spectator's Coffee House, Peter Hoskin, has written a five-point round up of Ed Miliband's first hundred days as Labour party leader - two days early, but who's counting!

The five points he covers are (with my own expansions here):
  1. Appointing Alan Johnson as Shadow Chancellor - yes, it kept the Balls duo (Ed and Yvette Cooper) out of that post, which was a good move; but Johnson flounders in this position as his knowledge and experience are next to nothing;
  2. Red's customary dithering, even on telling the country what he stands for: we are asked to wait two years to find that out, and meanwhile all we have is "a blank sheet of paper";
  3. Trying to find a component of the electorate to target: specifically what he calls "the squeezed middle", but without any policies he can offer in order to appeal to them;
  4. Very variable public performances: Hoskin highlights Prime Minister's Questions, but Ed's creepy Christmas message and other public appearances is likely to get people's neck hair standing on end as they wonder just what they've got here; and
  5. Red's attempt to ditch that very "red" perception of him by so many, and to be fair he has made some effort in that regard but with relatively little credibility. He's probably stuck with that label for life.
So, there we are. It isn't all that encouraging for Mili-E or Labour, who have become even more than before dependant upon friendly media spinning for them and him, most notably the BBC and The Guardian and (less credibly, as usual) The Mirror - also Labour activists posting on blogs even as illustrious as Political Betting (but read comments 3 and 4 to that thread for some realism).

In the event, it will be all that scheming by Gordon Brown to make any successor government look bad through his actions, that will score for Ed and Labour during the comings years of real austerity and cut-backs, not merely the anticipation of them as has been the case so far.

From April 2011 onward, when the new financial year's public sector budgets (especially within councils) are put into action - all the problems of which were generated by Brown's Scorched earth policy last spring - even the 'good guys' (and guy-esses, of course) elected to councils will come in for a lot of unwarranted stick, and will no doubt suffer electorally. That is how the baddies win so often, and are encouraged to continue with their evil practices simply because they do work.

Thus Ed-M can expect to do well in May's various local and devolved body elections, more or less by default, and will get a personal leadership boost as a result. He won't have earned it, of course, but it will happen nonetheless. Thus it will be not the first hundred-day period that brings him security as Labour leader, nor the second such period, but the third.

Meanwhile there is the Oldham East and Saddleworth by-election in ten days or so from now; but that is very likely to stay a Labour seat which will keep Red ticking over until May. If Labour were to lose the seat, though, that would be a fairly severe blow to Ed's standing - he would be tarnished with that failure in a quite safe Labour seat and would find it difficult to shake that off unless May then produced truly outstanding success for Labour, which is possible but not all that likely. They'll probably do well, but not that well!

So, we need to watch these crucial upcoming events to see how the present Labour leader fares and is perceived, especially among the party membership and supporters. If he should fall, there still isn't anyone still around who could be seen as a competent successor. Even with the bar having been set lower than it has been since the days of landing themselves with Michael Foot, there still isn't the leadership talent there...

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