Monday, 10 November 2014

Is Ed Milliband fit to lead the Labour Party?

There has been a lot of debate recently as to whether Ed Milliband is fit to lead the Labour Party. As someone who is actually banned from membership of the party, you may conclude that it's not really a matter of much concern to me. You'd be wrong. You see, in May 2015 there will be a general election and this is likely to be one of the most important we've ever had. Since 2010, many things have changed. Not least the fact that UKIP received a mere 3% of the vote in 2010 and yet in 2015 could conceivably become coalition partners with the Tories if things go there way. If this does happen, there will be a seismic shift in the UK's position in the world. I can see no way that a UKIP/Tory coalition could possibly keep the UK in the EU. This may well be the most cataclysmic shock the economy has ever suffered. We saw a flurry of companies threatening to depart Scotland when it became clear there was a chance they'd devolve. This will be nothing compared to what will happen if the UK quits the EU. We will instantly have zero influence on the governance of all our largest trading partners and nearest neighbours. They will have no reason to keep us sweet. What amazes me is that there has been nothing from any anti EU commentators on this issue, apart from a "we've got our fingers crossed and we're hoping for the best".

What disturbs me is that the man who has been tasked with preventing this catastrophy is Mr Ed Milliband. Mr Milliband has one job. That job is to ensure that the Labour Party wins the next election. If Mr Milliband loses the next election, he has no point at all. Gordon Brown was in a different position in 2010. He had two jobs, his main job was managing the country. As with David Cameron this time, he will be judged on the job he's done. Ed simply has to put  a credible team together, get some policies which appeal to the electorate together and then make his case.

So how has he done? Lets discuss his front bench team. Labour has been out of office for a mere 4 1/2 years but where has all the talent gone?  Apart from Ed Balls (most widely known for his botched attempts to tweet), how many of the rest of them have made any impression at all. The Shadow Home secretary is Yvette Cooper. Theresa May has been in a complete pickle over her inability to pick a credible person to lead the investigation into historical child abuse allegations. This should be an open goal for a credible politician. The question is simple "Is it really that hard to find someone who isn't a mate of the people you are investigating". Sadly Cooper is virtually invisible and instantly forgettable. What about Douglas Alexander, who is foreign secretary? It seems that every day we have some terrible challenge from the Middle East. We have the Ebola crisis in Africa. We have a difficult relationship with Russia. What does Mr Alexander make of all this? I haven't got a clue, he is invisible. Take Transport. Do you know who the Shadow Transport minister is? Given the huge public interest in Heathrow Expansion, HS2, Crossrail 2? What about the shameful state of our motorway network? Got it yet? It's Michael Dugher. Do you know what his policies are on these issues? It's not as if there isn't fertile ground for an effective opposition. A proper leader makes his team sweat.

Then there are policies. What are the Labour policies to address the defecit? What are their policies for Eduation? What are there policies for Business. If I was to ask you what single policy Labour have which you would vote for. Most people say "The NHS". Well what are these policies. 35,000 extra Doctors and Nurses. So how does that translate into turning your local hospital around? How much will this lower A&E waiting times at Barnet General. My daughter had to visit A&E there on Saturday after a car ran over her foot. The waiting times are unacceptable and I have no clue whether this would change under Labour. I hope it will, but there are no commitments. There are none on anything.

Then there is Ed himself. Does he preent himself as a credible Prime Minister. Would you like Ed to be the man making all the key decisions. Does he cut the mustard as a communicator? To me he is hopeless. He always has the rabbit in the headlights look of a man who is scared of his own shadow. Neil Kinnock said "Ed has given us our party back". That is the man who lost election after election.

The question for Labour is this - "Is Ed Milliband the best person to be Labour Party Leader?" If the answer is yes, then lord help us all. If the answer is no, then it is too important to just let it meander. I don't think Labour need another Tony Blair. I do believe they need someone who can build a team, put across a policy and look as if you could trust them to make the most important decisions. Sadly the Shadow Cabinet looks like a charisma free zone. The bottom line is that until such time as the Labour Party actually realise what the job spec of a Labour Leader is, we face the very real risk of the country falling over the abyss in a Tory/UKIP dustcart that is out of control.

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