Chuka tries to wipe egg off Ed's face – but Tories cannot gloat
Shadow cabinet man defends Ed's record while Tories prepare for power-sharing with Lib Dems again
WHETHER it was gallantry or a bid to keep his job in the shadow cabinet ahead of a promised reshuffle, Labour's business spokesman Chuka Umunna stepped in yesterday to say that the party has taken great strides under Ed Miliband, winning back support all over the country, and will everyone please stop getting hysterical.
Sadly Chuka wasn't there to cheer up his boss when the Mole's mole spotted Ed and his wife at the Gourmet Burger Kitchen in Belsize Park, north London on Saturday night, looking glumly at an iPad while they awaited their order. If they were looking for encouragement from the weekend news websites they were having no luck.
Writing in the Sunday Mirror, former deputy leader John Prescott called for a "radical" improvement from the party leadership in delivering a clear set of policies and principles. "There are millions of people looking to us as the only alternative to this heartless coalition," he said.
Another Labour peer, Lord Glasman, who entered the Lords at Miliband's request, wrote in the Mail on Sunday that the party "gives the impression of not knowing which way to turn". He said it was time for Miliband "to show he is a grown-up politician big enough to lead this country".
These attacks follow a miserable spell for Miliband, who was pelted with eggs at a south London street market last week only days after a member of his shadow cabinet – health spokesman Andy Burnham - said Labour risked losing the 2015 general election if it didn't "shout louder and speak in a way that captures how people are feeling and thinking".
Riding to Ed's rescue, Chuka Umunna told the BBC that Burnham's comments had been overplayed. "The point that Andy was making is, of course, by the time of the next general election we need to ensure that people know what Labour's agenda is. We have made huge progress ... but of course we've got a lot more work to do."
Umunna dismissed criticism of the party leadership as "hysteria" and insisted Labour were capable of winning the 2015 general election.
"We have got a big job to do. We are looking to make history - to achieve the remarkable feat of being re-elected to office after one term in opposition and so we are seeking to do something very big."
As for Ed's leadership, "I have been on the road with my leader since he became the leader of the Labour party and seen the fantastic response that he gets from people all over the country."
Apart from the man with the eggs at the East Street market, that is.
Meanwhile David Cameron cannot afford to gloat. According to the Daily Telegraph, he has been holding private talks with Cabinet ministers about drawing up new Conservative party rules which would make it easier to strike a second coalition deal with the Lib Dems.
"Under the plans," says the Telegraph, "backbench Tories would be consulted on the new power-sharing agreement with the final text being put to them in a vote."
Cameron wants his backbenchers to "put their names to any second coalition agreement" and "dip their hands in the blood", a party source told the paper.
In other words, Number Ten might have had fun watching Ed Miliband suffer in recent days, but they still don't quite believe that Cameron can win an outright majority in 2015. ·