Socialist Worker

Labour's problem is bigger than Ed Miliband

Issue No. 2403

Labour leader Ed Miliband

Labour leader Ed Miliband (Pic: Anthony Mckeown)


With a matter of days to go before the European and local council elections Labour was overtaken by the Tories in two new polls.

One in the Guardian on Monday of this week showed the Tories with 33 percent support and Labour down to 31 percent. 

Ukip came next at 15 percent and the Liberal Democrats trailed with 13 percent. 

On the same day another poll, this time by Lord Ashcroft, put the Tories on 34 percent, Labour on 32 percent, Ukip third on 15 percent and the Liberal Democrats way behind on 9 percent. 

This is the first time the Tories have been in the lead for two years and it’s the lowest Labour has been since June 2010 after it lost the last general election. 

How can Labour not be thrashing the Tories in the polls? 

People have been suffering four years of cuts and attacks on their living standards. 

The Tories are seen by millions of working class people as millionaire public school boys who look after the interests of the bosses and the rich.  

Some say Labour’s problem is Ed Miliband—that he comes across as a dry ineffectual leader cut off from ordinary people’s lives. 

All of which is true. But Labour’s problem is not about their leader’s charisma or lack of it.

Limits

The real problem for a social democratic party like Labour is that it is unable to offer a real alternative to working within the limits of the system. 

Under pressure it will come out against some of the most extreme attacks on welfare. 

But that doesn’t mean it will challenge the status quo where the rich are allowed to hang on to most of their wealth while the poorest are deemed scroungers.

And when it comes to one of the defining issues of these coming elections—racism and immigration—Labour will not take a principled stand. 

Instead of targeting Ukip, which is cashing in on people’s disillusionment with official politics, Labour is using its fire to attack Nick Clegg and the Lib Dems. 

Yet the Lib Dems don’t offer any electoral threat to Labour, having held up the hated Tories and pushed through their policies. When Labour does criticise Ukip it goes for its economic policies but daren’t go for its racism. 

The reason Miliband doesn’t take a principled stand against Ukip’s immigrant bashing is simple. 

His party has decided that promoting its own immigrant bashing is what will win votes. 

People are faced with an opposition that doesn’t oppose, and a selection of privileged politicians who preach various versions of the same austerity. 

We need a different sort of politics, one rooted in resistance and struggle and committed to taking a principled stand over attacks on the most vulnerable in society.


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