Thursday, September 30 2010
The election of the “wrong” brother to lead the Labour Party is unlikely to be good news for business.
That Ed Miliband owes his position so much to the trade unions will be a running sore. If activists threaten a winter of discontent, he may try to restrain them but they will always be able to retort “we put you there - keep quiet.”
Employers may find a revival in union militancy insufficiently curbed by a new leadership that is likely to be more pro-union than New Labour.
I read a lot about the end of New Labour and getting back to core support under a “new generation.” But surely it was Tony Blair’s creation of New Labour and its shift to the centre ground of British politics that ensured those election victories. It engaged Middle England and that engagement is vital to Labour if it wants to get back into power.
I’m sure that most Middle England voters in Kent would have preferred David Miliband, and it is strange that Labour rejects a man with so much experience at senior level in favour of someone with so little. I suppose it’s a bit like businesses that turn their back on an experienced employee in favour of an outsider with shiny-new appeal. But that lustre often fades as the organisation has second thoughts about their choice.
It is curious to think that had David been more ruthless about deposing Gordon Brown, he may well have been PM today, rather than playing second fiddle to his kid brother and quitting frontline politics.
I interviewed him at the Thames Gateway forum a few years ago and even then he seemed a leader-in-waiting, with an accessible personality, lots of intelligence and popular support.
Ed may surprise us, but he has a lot of obstacles to surmount if he is to win the wholehearted support of business and a majority of Kent voters.
Monday, September 27 2010
What does Ed Miliband need to do to restore his party's fortunes sufficiently for Labour to be in with a chance of recapturing the seats it relinquished to the Conservatives in May?
I've been trying to ask some former Kent Labour MPs this question. One I contacted this morning said rather cryptically that he wasn't making any public comment on party politics.
But Paul Clark, the former Gillingham MP and Labour MEP Peter Skinner who I have spoken to both identified immigration as ther party's achilles heel - both at the election and now. Their analysis is that the government was not direct enough about telling voters what it was doing to tackle the issue and introduced measures - such as the points system - too late.
Read my latest story on Ed Miliband
Both also said that the recession had made the subject even more combustible - unlike 2005, when it was still there but because there was no economic downturn and people were not losing their jobs.
They also complained that the government had somehow managed to think that it had got its message out when all the experiences they were having while canvassing and talking to voters on the doorstep was that no-one thought enough was being done. A classic communications breakdown and a surprising one given the party's supposed reputation for being able to spin.
I must admit to predicting the wrong result while watching the live coverage of the event on the BBC on Saturday. David Miliband positively radiated optimism while Ed looked like he'd swallowed a wasp and washed it down with neat lemon juice.
Still, I was in good company thinking that Dave had got it. So did the BBC's Nick Robinson, who also called it for the elder brother.