It would be very easy for me to revel in Ed Miliband’s unpopular leadership of his party and to be as opportunistic as possible at the revelation of his unpopularity amongst party supporters, but such temptations must be resisted. For whilst it makes Government that little bit easier knowing that the main opposition leader poses no threat to the party it may lead us into an arena of complacency and arrogance, something that may prove very dangerous. I believe strongly that every Government, no matter how supportive you are of them, should always have the strongest possible opposition. It not only puts the Government on the backfoot more, but also allows the thorough and credible scrutiny that Government policy always needs. At the moment Labour simply do not offer that. There is a wealth of talent in the Shadow Cabinet (I shall cite Yvette Cooper, Chuka Umunna and Hilary Benn to name a few) but such wealth is not translated through its leadership and certainly not those who speak most consistently on economic matters (need I say anymore on that matter?).
Electing Ed Miliband as leader of the party was seen, by many, as an attempted lurch to the left which was backed up by great enthusiasm and support from the Unions. Although this was the case in the sense that Ed was the Union candidate, it was certainly no lurch to the left. If anything such a lurch would, deep down, have ignited a lot of excitement in Labour activists. Many still miss the days of extreme anti-Capitalist protest which made the differences between themselves and the Tories much clearer. It is, I believe, the lack of direction and purpose that has really disenfranchised Labour voters and members. We one day see Ed being branded “left wing” by David Cameron over his reluctance to condemn the Public Sector strikes, whilst recently we have seen attempts to align Labour as the party set to tackle the “evil” of benefit scroungers; a shift that would no doubt make Labour voters wince whilst making the public roll their eyes at such blatant tactics from a party associated with the culture they look to condemn. Such a lack of direction is also assisted by what can only be described as an identity crisis for Ed Miliband as the voters simply do not know who he is and what he stands for. Something tells me that not even a movie akin to the one used to promote the image and character of Neil Kinnock prior to the 1987 election. He is, quite simply, a lost cause for the Labour party.
Back to my original point, it is quite simply not good enough for the Labour party, or the Coalition, for Ed Miliband to remain in his post. There is no strong challenge coming from Ed and he is choosing to embrace populist soundbites and bandwagon jumping in favour of putting together an opposition credible enough to shadow this Government. As I have mentioned, the talent is certainly there, but for it to be utilised there needs to be a leader capable of such a challenge. That is not to say the challenge is a simple one. You only need to look at how William Hague, Iain Duncan Smith and Michael Howard all faired in their years as Conservative party leaders. But even William Hague was, at least, seen to be a strong opponent to the Blair government who was always a very well composed debater and one who, if anything, was let down by a divided Tory party. But Ed’s problem is not the party, it is himself. So if he cares about his party and if he cares about holding the Government to account he seriously needs to consider either upping his game completely or re-evaluating his position within the Labour party. The Coalition needs a strong opposition and it just isn’t there.