Fratricide – is that the only thing Ed Miliband is good at?

Jan 12, 2012

The Labour leader keeps saying his party needs a new approach – but what is it? And can he provide it?

IT HAS NOT been a good week for Labour leader Ed Miliband. His new year 'relaunch' speech was given the thumbs-down by commentators, and a tetchy interview on the BBC Today programme didn't help. He may have scraped through Prime Minister's Questions, but many commentators are wondering if time might be running out for Miliband to prove he has the right stuff to lead Labour.
Relaunch speech with no substance

Ed Miliband used his "relaunch" speech to say Labour needs to find a "new approach".  He used the phrase "new approach" about six times, writes Michael Deacon in The Daily Telegraph but he didn't tell us what it was.
The Labour leader wants to be taken seriously, says Deacon. The problem is that the media are against him. Not the people who work in it or run it, but the media itself. Miliband doesn't come across well on TV or radio. He doesn't look or sound like a Prime Minister. "Even at the age of 42 he has the air of a work experience boy: keen, well-meaning, determined, lost."  

Right-wing press ganging up

It was to be expected that Miliband's speech would get the thumbs-down from most broadcasters, writes Alastair Campbell on his blog. "The right-wing press has moved up a few gears in its negativity about Ed." The broadcasters tend to take their lead from the press and "become a kind of echo chamber for their views".
So 'public opinion' becomes a combination of what the papers are saying, and what the broadcasters say the papers are saying, Campbell goes on. The public tend not to get much of a look-in. "Stand by for a lot of 'Ed flops' polls while this cycle is worked through."
Ed scrapes through PMQs

Every parliamentary performance is now billed as "make or break" for Labour's leader, says Dan Hodges in The Daily Telegraph. Acutely aware that every slip may be his last, Miliband is playing it safe-ish during Prime Minister's Questions. He asked about rail fares and Scotland, but failed to make any breakthroughs. But he hoped if he was clever, "perhaps no one would notice".
Labour must be relieved that Miliband survived PMQs, says Lloyd Evans in The Spectator. "Their leader has the knack of turning near-certain defeat into absolutely-certain catastrophe."
While an incident-free PMQs suited Miliband this week, some in Labour will feel that he should have been bolder and gone for a win, says George Eton in New Statesman. "Instead, after one of the worst weeks of his leadership, he focused on damage limitation."
Ed's mission already over

It's been a week of toe-curling interviews and relaunch speeches of mind-blowing blandness, says Matthew d'Ancona in the Evening Standard. It is now painfully obvious that he is not a very good party leader. Neither is he a great orator, strategist or policy-maker.

The question arises, what is Ed - or what was Ed - ever good at? Only one thing, d'Ancona concludes. He was good at sabotaging his brother's chances of becoming Labour leader. "He was really, really good at that."

Having fulfilled that mission, "his work is now complete".

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