Leading Labour, perhaps laboriously

Was Ed Miliband the best choice for Labour Leader? Whilst it’s critical to focus without fail on the enormous damage currently being inflicted by the ConDem Coalition, we still cannot ignore entirely the question of how well HM Opposition is performing.

When the election for Labour Leader was in full swing I became concerned that perhaps Ed Miliband was posturing and did not expect to win; he just wanted to show he was as important as his big brother David….  a classic case, one might even suppose, of second sibling ‘me too’.

Sadly, despite serious attempts to keep an open mind since the success-by-a-scrape of Ed in the contest, that sneaking doubt has grown in my own view to be a near certainty. I don’t think Ed expected, at least until very late on in the contest, to win.  And it shows.

Whilst for instance it was patently obvious that David could not serve under Ed (though the converse would have been fine), Ed apparently did not factor this difficulty in.  Perhaps that was because he didn’t expect he would need to?

Likewise, although, since the Coalition took power, Labour could have assembled a hugely experienced team of shadow ministers, Ed has chosen instead to appoint his own kind, often young, and / or recent entrants to Westminster – people with much less seasoned political antennae. And this at a time when the full force of a decade of hard experience in government would give Labour a huge advantage over the new (and, for whatever reason, multiply incompetent) ConDem ministers. 

Why was invaluable experience put aside, ostensibly to present a ‘new face’ for Labour? Where were the political strategies and pre-planning by Ed’s team to enable Labour’s long experience of government to be brought to bear, when so much should have, but has largely not thus far, been achieved by that party during the past year in opposition?

Why so many post hoc ‘apologies’ for Labour’s record – perplexing and demotivating at very best for those involved who gave their all – and so little pride in everything that, despite the well-rehearsed negatives, the last government (of which Ed Miliband was in fact a Minister) can rightly claim to have achieved in office? Has this bizarre extended act of mea culpa been in part to gain breathing and (hopefully) thinking space?

And – a final pointer in arriving at my uncomfortable view – why no huge profile attack now, day in, day out, on the ConDem Coalition, for their vicious act of bad faith with the UK electorate, as together they shove through a programme of radical state nihilism and de-governance which was almost nowhere to be seen in their manifestos?  Is the feebleness of Labour’s response because Ed and some of his team still feel insecure?

None of these issues removes the compelling need to focus constantly on the grim spectre of ConDem destruction which hangs over us all.  Unfortunately however they do raise some awkward questions.

We are seeing now some fine individual performances from senior Labour politicians, but the present total offer feels more like an indulgent and laborious re-exploration of the party, rather than the inspired political leadership of it which is urgently required. 

The only way I can explain that to myself is that Labour’s current leader wanted in the hustings to put down a marker, but didn’t expect to get the job.

What’s your view?

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