The case for a change in leadership….
I supported Ed Miliband, enthusiastically, for the Labour leadership. I did so because his stated politics were closest to mine, excepting Diane Abbott who is simply not leadership material. When presented with a choice between him and David Miliband it was simply a no-brainer and I genuinely believed that he would grow into the role of leader. I thought his election would at least open up space for a flourishing, vibrant and more democratic Labour Party, if not create a beacon of socialism which Ed was never going to deliver.
He hasn’t grown into the role of leader. Why? Well, I think on a personal level he has yet to come to terms with the shock of beating his treasured elder brother to a post the latter has openly coveted and seen as his own in all but name for some time. He did so by the narrowest of margins too which has scarred his tenure from the off. His first decision was, rather than to firmly stamp his imprint on the Party, to conciliate the wounded feelings of the losing faction in a vain attempt to consolidate a weak position. Rather than provide the bedrock of stability Ed hoped for, this has had the opposite effect, Alan Johnson repaid this by undermining him at every opportunity and Ed Balls, at least thus far, his proved a loyal shadow chancellor. Furthermore, it was a mistake because it gave off the impression that this leadership was too self-conscious of its own narrow margins and definately was for turning. It is my belief that the Parliamentary Labour Party, which should have been dealt with by a firmer hand, will never fully accept Miliband and since he wont undermine its power through democratic reform this is a major weakness of his leadership.
This has all encouraged the barely concealed factionalism which, if we are honest with ourselves and the voters, Labour is still rife with. All sins stem from this first – it is fair enough to still be formulating policy but now, a thoughtful process looks to the public like dithering. Miliband is seen as weak because he is and the central authority is weak – so weak that a more organised shadowy cabal of Blairites seems to be outfoxing it at every step. On Party democracy, as on other issues, Miliband is too heavily influenced by thinking imported from America – restoring the sovereign role of Party conference in policy making, for example, is a priority which requires no consultation.
Electorally, Miliband’s performance is adequate but gains in the local elections we would have made as a protest vote were offset by a disastrous result in Scotland and the leaders political judgement tainted by his close association with the Yes to AV campaign which was resoundingly thumped.
This week has proven beyond reasonable doubt that this leadership is terminally broken – new leadership is required for Labour to make the move back to government. It has prospered electorally despite its leadership, which is a constant source of endless speculation, not because of it and the time will arrive, sooner rather than later when this leadership represents an objective barrier to the progress of the Party. What should replace it should the subject of urgent debate but, whether Labour can enter government again under its current leadership is no longer a subject of hope nor expectation in my mind, it is a matter of fact it will not. As such, new leadership is required….