The real reason Ed Miliband is targeting the middle classes

If Alastair Campbell is right, the 2015 election looks set to produce a Labour/Lib Dem coalition

Column LAST UPDATED AT 10:20 ON Tue 14 Jan 2014

ALASTAIR CAMPBELL, Tony Blair’s former spin doctor, has overshadowed the launch of Ed Miliband’s campaign to appeal to the middle classes by predicting that the Labour leader won’t win an outright majority at the next election. 

Campbell, a pretty fair judge of political races, is predicting in an interview in the Fabian Review that there will be a Labour/Lib Dem coalition after the next general election. “I think it will be Lab-Lib,” he said. “I was right in 2010, I knew it was going to be a Tory-Liberal coalition, it’s what the people wanted."

Not surprisingly, his quote was picked up by the Tory-supporting Sun newspaper last night as an admission that Ed Miliband has “no chance” of winning the 2015 general election.

Campbell fired off an angry tweet: “I said no such thing. Can you people ever stop spinning? Bring back Leveson.”

Apart from the guffaws at the idea that Campbell is outraged at someone else’s “spinning”, it explains why Ed Balls, the Shadow Chancellor, has been making overtures to Nick Clegg, the Lib Dem leader.

Campbell’s interview was actually conducted last November, and only published yesterday. But if anything, Campbell’s prediction is even more likely to be true now. The Guardian is splashing today on an ICM poll under the headline: ‘Support for Labour shrinks as faith in recovery grows.’

The poll shows the Labour lead over the Tories falling to just three points (Lab 35, Cons 32, Lib Dems 14, Ukip 10), down two points on last month and down five points on November when Campbell gave his interview. That is definitely hung Parliament country.

The Guardian says the economic news since last autumn - when Miliband seized the headlines with his pledge to freeze energy prices - has been “mostly positive”, with both inflation and unemployment falling, which could reduce the resonance of Labour's "cost of living crisis" pitch.

Campbell says that Miliband - unlike New Labour - has failed to establish his ‘One Nation Labour’ theme in the voters’ minds. He reckons Miliband has failed to follow up the rhetoric with practical policies to underpin it.

Miliband is clearly embarking on a mission to correct that. We can expect to hear about ‘One Nation Labour’ until we’re sick of it. Today, he’s seeking to appeal to the middle classes who - until now - have appeared to be ignored by Labour’s top team. The foundations of middle-class life – well-paid jobs, strong pensions, the housing ladder and university education – have all been “undermined”, according to Miliband.

Writing in the Daily Telegraph (the place where he thinks he can appeal to the middle class doubters directly), Miliband says: “There has been a hollowing-out of those white-collar professions that used to keep the middle class strong.”

He says that on Friday he will use a speech on the economy to set out his plans for restoring hope to the middle classes - and everyone else - by reforming finance, skills and wages.

But the really new factor in Labour thinking - if Campbell is right - is that Ed Miliband has another audience to please: the Liberal Democrats.  How long before the Labour leader is asking: “What does Nick think?” · 

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Hi,
“If Alastair Campbell is right, the 2015 election looks set
to produce a Labour/Lib Dem coalition”. I wouldn’t buy a vacuum cleaner or a refrigerator from Mr. Campbell my computer who I sometimes kick as it kick me, says a conservative and a UK Independence Party coalition will win.

...several likely benefits from your likely scenario, Terence. (Incidentally I, too, find it a bit rich for Clammy Campbell to rail against the Sun newspaper for "spinning" against Labour!)

First, the end of Miliband, second the end of Cameron - after all, he will have, again, failed to deliver a working majority and third, and by no means last, we might see some backbone again in British politics if UKIP are coalesced with the Tories.

"Coalesced" - do you like that word? We can now expect Nick Robinson to start using it.