Damaine Gorman argues that Ed Miliband simply has to go.
As the third anniversary of Ed Miliband’s leadership looms, Labour are still attempting to cope with the awkward, incapable man they were saddled with by the Trade Unions in 2010. At first, the damage of Ed’s election seemed recoverable; David Miliband gracefully accepted defeat, Ed was being given room to develop, and the Party rallied behind their perceived ‘breath of fresh air’. But political pleasantries never last.
Ed was always going to be the person that succeeded political titans such as Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, whose personalities were extremely dominant – he was always going to be the small-footed man attempting to fill large boots. The unique political quality of Tony Blair, for example, was the ability to keep the Downing Street machine well-oiled, and to govern definitively with a small set of close political allies. Doubts as to Ed’s credibility are already widespread. Given his wavering leadership, and increasingly limp style: does he look like a leader? Can he control a situation in the way that a Prime Minister would?
Rather than the Conservative Party discrediting the Labour Party’s attack strength, most of the political damage suffered by Ed Miliband has originated within the party. Robust political figures such as Tom Watson and Ed Balls are unafraid to contradict and undermine their leader publicly; half of the Shadow Cabinet – despite collective responsibility – disagreed with their leader on his EU referendum stance. Kate Hoey has stirred political tensions by forwarding the ‘Labour for a Referendum’ group, and Chuka Umunna recently insisted that Labour need to ‘turn up the volume’, whereas Ed feels the party is loud enough.
…most of the political damage suffered by Ed Miliband has originated within the party.
Whilst it could be argued that these are all valid interventions from a moral philosopher’s point of view (in that members are helping to correct and better their leader in the long-run), in the political theatre, it’s disastrous. The Labour Party is lost for political capital under Ed’s leadership in all of the key election-deciding areas! The EU referendum debate is being led by David Cameron, welfare reform has been tackled by the Conservatives, and the sores of Labour’s lacking economic credibility are still raw. With no definitive direction under Ed, the Labour Party has no real appeal.
In summary, Ed Miliband does not have the political clout to lead his party, or to lead the country. The mandate he was given – unfortunately, for him – was never organic, and the poisonous effect of it was always going to spread without an extraordinarily capable political operator behind the scenes. At present, the most glaring weakness in the Labour Party – and the most favourable political advantage to the Conservative Party – is Ed Miliband.
Whilst Labour would suffer significant political damage in the short-run for changing leader, it would be the fundamental pit-stop need to help them contend in the 2015 General Election race. Ed Miliband is effectively deadweight, so abandoning the ship before it sinks and consolidating a strategy to minimise the political damage in 2015 would be the most sensible move they could take.
As to who would be a suitable replacement for Ed, that is a difficult question. It would have to be someone who starkly contrasted with Blair and Brown, for the sake of an election victory, but who could still demonstrate their key political powers: pragmatism, dominance, and a clear line of strategy. Regardless of who should function as the new leader of Labour, one factor is certain: Ed Miliband’s turkey is cooked, and he has to go.