By Simon Basketter
Downloading PDF. Please wait... Issue 2429

It’s the night of the living Ed as Blairite rebels chicken out

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Issue 2429
Ed Miliband has surrendered to austerity—but will he be forced to give up the leadership?
Ed Miliband has surrendered to austerity—but will he be forced to give up the leadership? (Pic: The CBI on Flickr)

David Cameron is on the brink of losing another by-election. He’s lost two MPs to the hard right Ukip and more than 20 think he should step down—but his leadership is not in question. 

Yet Labour Party leader Ed Miliband is the one staring down the barrel of a gun. 

For Miliband, winning the next election should be easy. Most polls continue to show a narrow Labour percentage lead. 

It would be possible for Labour to win more seats than the Tories without any percentage lead at all. But Labour has been stung by a crisis in Scotland and a disappointing by-election result. 

Further, two polls have suggested that Labour could lose as many as 30 of its 41 Scottish Westminster seats to the Scottish National Party.

A YouGov poll showed that Miliband was even less popular than Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg. 

MPs briefed the media while “senior Labour figures”—press code for past or present shadow ministers—twisted the knife a bit.

The resulting articles were then commented on and spun, leading quickly to a crisis. Various factions blamed each other and denied anything is happening. 

Tragically, none of the criticism of Miliband was coming from the left.

As the Times newspaper carefully put it, “Miliband was forced yesterday to deny as ‘nonsense’ that his leadership was in crisis.” 

Indeed, “Shadow ministers were forced to deny claims they were plotting against Miliband.”


There were reports that as many as 20 shadow ministers were prepared to call for Miliband’s departure. 

The fact that former Blairite Alan Johnson is their preferred candidate suggests both a lack of ideas and taste. 

This is a reflection of the root of the problem overall. 

Labour’s entire prospectus for the next government is no more convincing than Miliband. 

Miliband has responded to the internal crisis predictably. 

Allies said he would do more on the economy and immigration.

A senior Labour source said, “Ed will be out at least twice a week engaging with  the bread-and-butter issues that really matter to voters.”

Miliband showed how he wanted to connect with people on Monday, by going to the bosses CBI conference to say how much he loved business.

Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper, one of Miliband’s allies—or not, depending on the source—attacked the Tories for not cutting immigration.

Labour has committed itself to austerity and is pandering to racism.

It has a leader who does nothing to inspire, because he is an entirely accurate representative of the state of the Labour Party. 

We need resistance to austerity and racism—and that will have to come from outside the Labour Party whether led by Miliband or not.

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