Published on June 17th, 2013 |
by Robin White
Image © 2012 Andrew Duffell
What is wrong with Labour?
It is becoming an undeniable fact of the political landscape that Labour are simply not doing well enough in the opinion polls. The Conservatives preside over a complete mess; the Liberal Democrats have almost lost the last vestiges of respectability. So why is it that Labour fails to hold a commanding lead in the polls? What is Ed Miliband doing wrong?
Tony Blair recently felt the need to step slightly back into the political limelight and weigh in with his ideas as to what is wrong with Labour at the minute. Blair, and other commentators simply think that the current labour lead is nowhere near big enough given the unpopularity of both Conservatives and Lib Dems, and given the catastrophic state of the economy. Blair has tried to reinforce the idea that the Labour party is falling into the trap of becoming nothing more than the opposition party. It is not good enough to simply disagree with the Conservatives and suggest Labour would do a better job; Miliband needs to start coming out and saying that this is how we will do it.
Miliband has devoted much time and effort to reinforcing the idea that the new Labour party is not ‘New Labour’. The exact reasoning behind this denial of a political system that achieved three consecutive general election victories has never been properly explained. In fact failure to explain things is becoming a hallmark of the Miliband leadership. It is time for Labour to start showing people that they do have clear objectives and policies for governing the country. At the minute they seem to spend most of the time lambasting Conservative policy without providing any real or tangible alternatives. The phrase constructive criticism, which is often bandied around school classrooms, comes to mind; there is simply no beneficial element in criticism for the sake of criticism.
Undoubtedly ‘New Labour’ is a dangerous term and one that many people will associate with the current economic problems. So I think it is perhaps right for Labour to put to bed some aspects of ‘New Labour’ but let us see them replaced with something coherent, let us see clear objectives, let us see Miliband step up and deliver policy ideas that will appeal to the nation and that will help the nation.
This lack of policy is also compounded, in my opinion, by the fact that ‘Red Ed’ simply doesn’t look like leadership material. His demeanour, his mannerisms and his general effect just do not scream out Prime Minister. The time is fast approaching that the Labour party need to consider whether they actually want this man to run the country. That is what is currently denting the poll lead for Labour; people are failing to see Miliband as a possible Prime Minister. Maybe for Labour to push onwards and become an obviously viable alternative they need to find a leader that can both command the respect of a majority and who can control his own party with ease.
One thing that must be avoided though is a statement for change that is never clearly followed up by the actuality of change. Recent suggestions have been made that one of the main problems voters have with David Cameron is a perceived lack of change from the old world of the Conservative old boy system. Cameron promised us a new Conservative party that had a place in the new climate of the world. What he has given us though is the same old Etonian set. If Miliband wants to distance himself from Blair and ‘New Labour’ then that is all well and good, but he actually needs to be seen to be doing it. To do this though, and I apologise for reiterating it time and again, he needs policy! It is no good to say he must be seen to do. Now is the time for Labour to begin there election push with a view not simply to getting back into power but to getting a clear majority as well.
At the next general election it seems likely that the Labour party will return to power. What they need to do before then, though, is to listen to people like Tony Blair. When a man who achieved three election victories offers his advice it would do well to heed it. At the minute, unless Miliband and Labour radically change, the next Labour government could be a shambolic and hopeless mess that paves a clear path for a Conservative resurgence.
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