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Labour’s Leadership Crisis Explodes into the Papers

Ed Miliband

Following Labour’s poor local election results and the huge damage done to their electoral base in their Scottish heartland by the SNP it was probably inevitable that questions would be asked about the leadership of Ed Miliband. It is worth remembering that a majority of Labour MPs didn’t vote for him, neither did a majority of Labour members; he won the election due to the block votes of the Trades Union, over his older brother. In recent weeks his leadership has been criticised for the lack of vision and his refusal to apologise for Labour’s economic failures, of which he and Ed Balls share much responsibility.

The last week has brought the added revelation of the plotting and divisions with the Labour party during the latter days of Tony Blair’s premiership. The “Brownites” were determined to remove Blair and install Gordon Brown soon after the 2005 General Election. The two Ed’s have been shown as key conspirators in the plotting. Now it seems that the younger Miliband is facing growing troubles over his own leadership, or lack of it. The papers today are full of articles questioning whether Ed will survive until the next General Election and bemoaning his poor start in the job. David Miliband has even had to issue a denial that he still covets the leadership and he has urged the party to unite behind Ed.

The one thing which seems to be saving Miliband’s face is the continuing (albeit small) lead in most opinion polls. The daily YouGov poll continues to show Labour over 40%, although few others do. The respected site Political highlights the poor ratings Ed is receiving when the public is asked about his leadership.

Some Conservatives are worried that if Ed Miliband is toppled by the Labour Party that we will face a more credible opponent. The betting markets are already open for his successor, with some seeing David Miliband as a likely candidate and others siding with the Shadow Defence Secretary Jim Murphy. That of course is possible but it is unlikely that Labour will be able to get rid of him, unless he is persuaded to go of his own accord.  Whatever the speculation may be at present, I am convinced that Ed will still be leader at the time of the next General Election and that he will lead the party to an historic defeat comparable to Michael Foot in 1983. It seems that at least one other commentator agrees with this conclusion.

In the mean time the Labour party will no doubt make some gains in local elections and by-elections but fall well short of what they need in order to be on course to win a General Election. Individual donations to the party have plummeted in recent years as business people conclude that the party has no chance of winning a national election any time soon. The party is therefore increasingly dependent on the Trades Unions to stave off bankruptcy.

Is it any wonder that Labour is now led by someone who has earned the nickname of “Ed Moribund”?


June 12, 2011 - Posted by | National


  1. David Miliband instead of Ed? ? NO! The “Milibrand” has been tainted with the smell of failure. I feel that Labour will look elsewhere and off the last 5 who stood Burnham is the only one with any cred but is still too young and inexperienced. A pity for them and a blessing for Cameron that James Purnell shot his bolt and is out of it.

    Comment by Steve Foley | June 13, 2011 | Reply

  2. They are struggling because they have no ideological base. Their is a political philosophy called conservatism and we have a Conservative party, there is a political philosophy called liberalism and we have a Liberal party.

    Labour used to represent a mixture of social democrats and democratic socialists. Since the birth of New Labour it has only
    stood for one thing power.

    Comment by Dave Warren | June 14, 2011 | Reply

  3. How strange you are, Dave. There has never been a coherent philosophy of conservatism, by definition it has had to change all the time. Heathism, Thatcherism, Tory radicals a la Disraeli, right wingers like Cameron? There is certainly aliberal philosophy, only unfortunately it is not one followed by the Orange-bookers in government. It is still apparent on the ground, as the number of liberal people who voted Labour in the recent elections showed.
    There is a political philosophy called, er, socialism, and as Clause 4 of the Labour Party constitution says, that is what the Labour Party stands for. There was for a decade or so a leadership that called itself “New Labour”, but even that had a handy catchword for what democratic socialist parties stand for : “The many, not the few”.

    Comment by Jonny | June 15, 2011 | Reply

  4. Blimey Jonny what a simplistic and totally flawed analysis then Labour never were very strong on political education
    I think i remember New Labour dumping Clause 4 a few years back not that any leader was ever serious about it most historians claim it was only put there to placate the left.
    ‘Democratic socialism’ is in crisis all over europe as David Miliband pointed out recently. Whether its France, Germany, Spain, Greece or here parties of the ‘left’ are struggling.
    ‘Liberal people who voted Labour in the recent elections’ you say. Where is the evidence for that? If any genuinely liberal minded person wants to vote for a party that represents their views its the Liberal Democrats.
    Labour is an illiberal and authoritarian party to its core. It only manages to record the vote it does is because of a mistaken view that it is the workers party.
    Its actually a party led by career politicians who have no core principles whatsoever. I remember the likes of Foot, Benn et al they were giants compared with todays miserable bunch.

    Comment by Dave Warren | June 16, 2011 | Reply

  5. Dave, Clause IV reads: “The Labour Party is a democratic socialist party. It believes that by the strength of our common endeavour we achieve more than we achieve alone, so as to create for each of us the means to realise our true potential, and for all of us a community in which power, wealth and opportunity are in the hands of the many, not the few, where the rights we enjoy reflect the duties we owe, and where we live together, freely, in a spirit of solidarity, tolerance and respect.” You were obviously thinking of the old, lovely clause IV written by Sidney Webb.
    Actually we’re quite good on political education, if you think of the Workers’ Educational Association, the party’s own political education department, as well as, of course, the Open University and Ruskin College.
    As for the Liberals voting Labour, the evidence is the post-election 2011 psepholigical analyses by, among others, Peter Kellner, Yougov and the University of Essex.
    The rest of your post is your opinion.
    In the original post by Richard, on a point of information, Ed M was not elected by Union “block votes”, but he did win a large percentage of the individual votes of members of the Party’s affiliated organisations, including Trades Unions, the various socialist societies, the Co-operative Party, etc. This reflects the fact that we are part of the wider labour movement, in the same way that the Conservative Party represents and is funded by millionaires and anonymized business organisations.

    Comment by Jonny | June 16, 2011 | Reply

  6. Jonny you have a very romantic view of the Labour party and this near mythical ‘Labour movement’.
    I have been a trade union activist for 30 years and the vast majority of members who pay the political levy don’t even realise it!
    The number who participated in the recent leadership election was very low around 10% in most unions i believe.
    The system is flawed and the party would save itself a lot of criticism if it moved to OMOV.
    Political funding needs reform because of the way both the Conservative and Labour parties receive the bulk of their money.
    I don’t think Labour has a future until it abandons tribalism and reaches out to others.
    The current leadership includes two many who are machine politicians and Ed M appears to weak a leader at present to change this.

    Comment by Dave Warren | June 17, 2011 | Reply

  7. Jonny maybe we could discuss this issue in more detail?
    Happy to exchange contact details if you are.

    Comment by Dave Warren | June 17, 2011 | Reply

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