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Was this worse than Paxman v Howard?

July 1st, 2011


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Henry G on Friday

In defence of Michael Howard it was rottweiler interviewer Jeremy Paxman who made him repeat himself 14 times. What is Ed Miliband’s excuse? This is a truly weak and bizarre spectacle and entirely self-inflicted. There is a growing feeling that ‘he’s not up to the job’.

On a wider point I don’t think Ed Miliband appreciates how much damage he has done to himself over his weak folding over industrial action. If he did then he would be in a permanent cold sweat. Three months ago he was addressing half a million people demonstrating in Hyde Park. The rhetoric soared high (too high?) but just 3 months later he has turned on the very same people, attacking trade unions and encouraging people to cross picket lines. It is this lack of consistency, principle and backbone which is causing widespread alarm across the labour movement.

    Labour’s motto is allegedly ‘Your Voice In Tough Times.’ For many public sector workers these are their tough times – and Ed Miliband is not on their side. The lack of fight from the Labour Party generally is glaring. What will the fallout be from this cowardly flinching?

It wasn’t that long ago when the trade union movement would be relied on to provide a strong defence for the beleagured Labour leader. Not now. That’s gone. There will be a tidal wave of demands from grassroots activists to cut trade union funding for the Labour Party. For a party teetering on the brink of bankruptcy this could have serious implications. The anger at senior levels of the trade union movement with Ed Miliband has been carefully hidden from public gaze. Behind closed doors discussions of a different nature are taking place. Patience is quickly running out.

Whether a thought-out plan or emerges or not, it surely cannot be a great sign of progress that 9 months into his leadership the very people who gave him victory are even discussing the merits of ‘alternatives’. More immediately the battle over who will become Labour’s next general secretary will intensify over whether popular union moderniser Iain McNicol is kept off the shortlist. Reports suggest that Ed Miliband is minded to support Assistant General Secretary Chris Lennie as a ‘continuity candidate’ and keep McNicol off the shortlist to clear his path. This would be a fatal mistake. Even mainstream party activists are voicing dismay at such a prospect.

On reflection perhaps the comparison for Ed Miliband should not be with Michael Howard, but Iain Duncan Smith. It was the money men who did for IDS in the end. If Ed’s not careful over the coming months, then Labour’s equivalents could instigate something similar. A 2012 Miliband exit at 7/1 with William Hills regrettably remains good value.

Henry G Manson is a Labour activist (Twitter @henrygmanson)

  • Mike Smithson is on holiday until July 4th