Labour’s crisis of confidence…
It is the summer time, traditionally the time when footballers return from holiday and when politicians enjoy a particularly long one. However, no such luxury has existed for Ed Miliband who it has been announced this morning is planning a fourth reshuffle. This comes amid opinion polls showing a slow but perceptible and steady erosion of Labour’s position and news the economy is growing. Labour’s polling position and its decline is a vindication of all those who have been rightly insisting that even when the advantage was reaching dizzying heights that this was not built on solid foundations and does not necessarily precede a certain election victory. Who now can seriously insist that this was not true?
Andy Burnham has rightly spoken out and called for Labour to ‘shout louder’ and pointed to the very real risk of electoral defeat. I am not sure a Shadow Cabinet reshuffle is quite what he had in mind and neither am I convinced it is the panacea that is needed. It is certainly true that there are a dearth of ‘big hitters’ sitting around the top table and there are some, like Stephen Twigg, whose presence should no longer be required. However, it would be naive in the extreme to see this as the most pressing problem, it is rather a symptom of the wider malaise which is the lack of a discernible strategy and a broader vision for Britain.
If you don’t believe me, ask yourself why the main focus of the upcoming conference is internal Party reform. What special kind of stupid suggests to the leader and his advisors that in times when your poll lead is declining, the economy is recovering and the punch drunk government is pulling itself off the ropes that this is what you should be worrying about? Also, it is worth noting that ‘One Nation’ Labour, which was a success at last years conference and should be being built upon this year, seems to have fizzled and faded like a fire cracker under the sea.
What we have amounts to a crisis of confidence and that crisis of confidence stems from a lack of clarity, a lack of drive and vision right at the very top. When asked ‘How will Labour make Britain better’ Labour activists have no answers provided too them by the leadership which is too busy navel gazing (thinking a reshuffle is the answer proves this point beyond contention), the poll lead is shrinking, fundamental issues remain unaddressed (like the leaders poor ratings and Labour’s poor polling on the economy), in turn, Labour MP’s and even members of the Shadow Cabinet are losing confidence – how then can Labour and its leadership expect to inspire confidence in the electorate that they are fit to govern?