As a Labour Party member, reflecting on the events of 2011 ought to be a positive experience. The Con-Dem coalition have been allowed ample time to revel their true motives; motives that have been exposed as the bulwarks of their governmental policy, issued from behind the political fig leaf that is the Liberal Democrats. At the same time, Labour leader Ed Miliband has been given time to establish himself as the voice of an alternative vision for building a better future for Britain.
It is certainly true that the politic of opposition is far easier than the duty of government, yet Miliband’s personal ratings have yet to reach the levels expected of somebody taking the fight to an unpopular government busying itself with the bloody business of ripping the heart out of regional economies, the welfare state, and the dying embers of British manufacturing.
Numerous commentators, in addition to many within the party, make disparaging comments about Ed Miliband, rubbing their hands in anticipation of the ‘inevitable’ power struggle that will surely follow as we all turn on ourselves, ripping Ed from office and tearing a hole in the party, as ambitious hands clamour to grasp the chalice of leadership.
Such views are misguided and will only condemn us to a generation on the sidelines as we watch the Tories wreck our country once more.
Whilst Ed doesn’t engage as naturally with television cameras and mass media as the likes of Blair, Cameron or Clegg, he has proven himself to be of immaculate political breeding, as well as having a brilliantly shrewd political mind. He is a facilitator, organiser, and a strategist, qualities vital for anyone intending to lead our nation and our economy away from blind cuts towards growth and jobs.
I concede the point that Ed needs to raise his profile, and those advising him need to work on the image he projects. As someone who will be knocking on doors once the next General Election comes around, I would advise Mr Miliband to pay much attention to the team he assembles around him over the coming months.
Those reaching nervously for the ejector button should hesitate. Looking back to the heady days post-1997, it would be easy to compare Ed’s early ratings to the abject failure of William Hague to press home his message during his ill-fated time as Tory leader. The striking difference, of course, is that the government of the day were investing in public services rather than starving them of funds, and the nation at large was on a high following the promise of a new start.
Differences aside, I would point my party colleagues in the direction of history when cautioning against Machiavellian manoeuvring.
Looking back at the recent history of the Conservatives, the ousting of Hague, Duncan-Smith and Howard show that the Tories were rudderless, disorganised, introspective and unelectable.
Now we face a fixed term parliament promising nothing except continued attacks on the unions and the public sector, austerity cuts, misery, mass unemployment, and a depressing cocktail of poverty and benefit dependency which will last for generations. We have a coalition government, glued together by the political ambitions of Nick Clegg and a small clique of Lib Dems whose betrayal of their principles and supporters alike unlocked the door to a ministerial pension pay day and access to the government car pool, together with a newly hawkish Tory party who are shameless in their hatred of the sweeping majority of people they govern.
Cameron has referred to himself smugly as “The heir to Blair” and it is clear that he has funnelled a large proportion of Tory supporters’ donations into massaging his image.
Labour should realise that there is strength through unity, and wealth through depth. Miliband needs to carefully examine the composition of his shadow cabinet with a mind to blazing new trails, building new bridges, and showing the electorate that the Coalition government has it all wrong.
Labour’s campaign should not solely be about Ed Miliband. It should be about the collective might that Labour can offer to the electorate. I believe that Ed can assemble, plan and direct such a team.
To focus the battle on Ed versus Dave would be a grave mistake. Labour needs to show that we have a wealth of supporters, strength through unity, and the courage of our convictions.
Cameron and Clegg have already assembled a ‘Coalition of the Willing’. For Labour to return to office, and right the wrongs of the present administration, Ed Miliband needs to assemble a ‘Coalition of the Ready and Able’.Tags: Domestic (UK)
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This post was written by Karl Davis