Friday, 30 January 2015
90 days left.
Back in November Ed Miliband was under pressure. He might get booted out.
It was all a nonsense. Just backbenchers sounding off. There was no way he was being moved on. Mostly because it was far too late in the day to change leaders.
I wrote about it at the time. And listed 30 odd reasons why he would be the next Prime Minister. The advantages are all his. It seemed virtually impossible for him too lose.
And yet he continues, day in, day out, to try and lose the 2015 election.
The worst leader of an opposition since Michael Foot. Possibly even worse than him.
Ed Miliband beat his brother to the leadership of the labour party, by getting union votes and defeating his brother. he must be tough to have negotiated and undertook that. he must have had some vision? Some idea of why he wanted to be leader and what he thought he could achieve. He didn't appoint Ed Balls as chancellor. A brave act. They were both Brown's capos. To refuse him the prize he craved showed a political soundness. It was 'events' that made Balls chancellor.
Somewhere along the way, his spinners and Spads and graph guys showed him the 35% strategy.
Labour did not need any vision. It just needed to retreat to its core vote and prevent the Party fragmenting after its crushing defeat in 2010. Someone pointed out to him that in 2010, even after the disastrous premiership of the coup-king, Gordon Brown, with the economic crash and labour having totally lost its way, the party still retained 29% of the vote.
Someone will have shown him the constituency map that plotted the seats which Labour had lost, but could be sure of winning back just by virtue of not having Brown in charge anymore. They would have pointed to all the Scottish seats where Labour, incredibly, had gained votes in 2010.
"Sit tight Ed..Its all going to be alright. best not say too much..See what's happening first.."
He might not have been convinced. probably decided to try out some 'producer-predator-onenashion' phrases. Started to write down some ideas. tested out some theories on focus groups.
The Spads came back. "Ed..Ed ..the Liberal democrats are a disaster..they've dumped all over themselves. Their supporters are fleeing the yellows and joining the reds! That's going to boost us some 8%! We don't need to do anything .. just sit tight."
And then the boundary changes were dropped. That made his job even easier. And all that talk of cuts..cuts..cuts..It was a gift to the spending party. Tory incompetence at the budget lost the coalition its fragile public support by 2012. 3 years to go and he was ahead in the polls. Significantly ahead.
And the news just got better. UKIP turned up. The protest party began taking real bites out of the Tory votes. Marginal seats were going to fall like ripe fruit into his hands. Ed Miliband could be looking at Blair like majorities of 100+ seats. And all without even writing a manifesto.
Just some platitudes would do. Say lefty things to lefties..and say not a lot to righties. Who needs them? Tax 'em with a mansion tax. Say that tax will raise super-dooper billions to pay for the Tories-Liberals failed economic experiment. And oppose everything the coalition does. Everything. Don't even think about it. Just say its wrong. So when it fails, Labour look like they were right.!
The coalition is carrying out NHS reorganisation. Imposed from above. What a gift!
His advisers will have told him that voters liked labour, but they didn't much care for weird Ed. So, try not to say much about anything and keep out of sight. And they would have told him that even on his best days, he is only mediocre at PMQs . So.. best not say too much.
The only problem with this strategy was that it was dependent on the economic situation remaining bad for 5 years. Prices rising for 5 years.The coalition not changing tack for 5 years.
And that is why it was a bad, bad, bad idea. Ed Miliband has no fall back positions. He has no uplifting policies to offer an alternative to floating voters. He has chased his own and ignored the rest. His narrative about how beastly the coalition is and how heartless the Tories are, compared to cuddly old labour won back the labour lost and a big chunk of former liberals. But that's all.
Back in 2012, that was enough. He was going to win with a comfortable margin.
But in 2015 its not. The Scots are doing that rebellion thing again. The fringe parties are taking votes of him both for being too left wing and not left wing enough. As the economy improves, and the coalition begins to deploy its election power, Miliband is pushed back.
He has nothing in reserve. He has nothing to say that hasn't been said a hundred times.
For the big spring offensive labour have chosen its favoured muddy battlefield of the NHS. The one area that labour is consistently ahead on polling data. Which is why it will fail.
Labour already have those NHS votes in their pockets. They have had them since Lansley gifted them to Labour be foolishly messing in an area where messing should have been severely limited. The votes he is trying to win are by fear. And that's not going to be good enough to swing the 5-6% of voters that he is short.
This offensive , this weaponised conflict, is already failing. Andy Burnham, Labour's general of nurse, bogged down soon after leaving the trenches. Rear-Admiral Milburn sunk some of his own ships getting out of port.
Labour take comfort from recent polls that show the NHS is the number one issue for the public.And labour has a big poll lead on dealing with the NHS.
What they also know is that was just one poll. carried out after the newspaper 'NHS in crisis' week. For years the real top issue has been immigration. And labour is totally distrusted on immigration.
third is the economy. Labour can take very little comfort there either.
So they are reduced to going into battle with a very depressing message of failure and misery, and very few ideas to do anything about it.
Labour's advantages in this election are so great it would take a real lemon to fail.
Ed Miliband will probably still become Prime Minister in May.
But he doesn't deserve to be.
Posted by Bill Quango MP