Archive for the 'Ed Miliband' Category


Does this explain the Tory optimism about May

Friday, March 6th, 2015

“Labour voters are also generally lukewarm about their leader in a way that Conservatives are not about theirs.” – Opinium

The above chart shows how well Dave and badly Ed do among their own supporters, as other pollsters generally find as well. I’m of the view, that Ed’s poor ratings are priced into the voting intention, and that the voting intention is largely correct.

We’re going to find out in nine weeks time if it is priced in or not. These types of findings might well explain why particularly on betfair, the prices are much more bullish on the Tories doing better than the current polling suggests.

Opinium have also been tracking this “For a while now we’ve been asking voters to predict the 2015 election with the options being majorities for either big party or a hung parliament with either Labour or the Conservatives as the largest party. We defined a “win” as a party winning a majority or being the largest party in a hung parliament.”

This probably also probably explains the Tory optimism and expectation about May and feeds through to betfair.

Back in 2013, when Labour was routinely recording 10-point leads, 54% of voters expected Labour to ‘win’ vs. just 24% for the Conservatives. Now that both parties are at parity, Labour’s figure has dropped to 33% while the Conservatives’ has risen to 49%.

Among Labour voters themselves, the proportion predicting a win was 82% in 2013 but just 67% do so now. Conservative voters have gone from 60% expecting a win to 82% now.

To an extent this is just voters reading the polls and coverage of them which show that, even if momentum may not exactly be with the Tories, Labour have bled support across the country to the SNP, UKIP and more recently the Greens.

This also feeds into who they expect to be prime minister after the election. Overall Cameron leads Miliband by 46% to 23% but while 75% of Conservatives expect their leader to stay at No. 10, just 47% of Labour voters expect Ed Miliband to replace him.

The full data is available here



Henry G Manson says that in past fortnight we’ve seen a different EdM with an effective gameplan

Saturday, February 14th, 2015

Why he’s becoming like tennis player Lleyton Hewitt at his prime

It’s easy to look at British politics as though it were boxing. Journalists will often speak of whether there were any ‘knock out blows’ in Prime Minister’s. Instead I look at the it through the prism of sport I love, which PB old hands know is tennis. Of course there are some key points in a set but overall it’s a rhythmic battle in which small margins can give a player a big advantage if sustained long enough.

Every player has a weakness and the more you bring that out over the course of a match the more likely you are to win. Right now Ed Miliband looks like he has a new coach and has identified a form of play that has linked his opponent’s weaknesses into his strength. Ed Miliband is beginning to play like Lleyton Hewitt approaching his prime.

Fourteen years ago Hewitt was the best counter-puncher around. He didn’t have a big serve, or big forehand or backhand. Despite this for several years he took the booming ground-shots and serves of opponents and steered them back with interest.

Hewitt would look like he shouldn’t have any chance but developed a knack of dissembling his supposedly superior opponents’ game and ensure the ball landed at the most awkward point. As with Ed, it took a while for the tennis commentators to understand how the Aussie could and did win.

This last two weeks has seen a different Ed Miliband on court and there’s every sign he’s got an effective gameplan at his disposal at the time that matters most. Like Hewitt, Miliband has turned huge crunching groundshots against him into winning returns his opponent isn’t used to seeing fly back past the net.

    The response to the orchestrated attack through Boots boss Stefano Pessina and other big businesses close to the Tory party is the most significant political event of the election campaign.

    Over two weeks Ed Miliband and Labour have turned an assault on his business credibility into a issues of tax fairness which voters can identify with.

He’s drawn on the HSBC revelations and steered it onto the arrangements of Conservative donors. As a result it is now David Cameron and his party that is now stretching and is badly off balance.

After PMQs David Cameron was overheard complaining of Miliband’s “horrid” line of attack. In a revealing remark he said that it was only because Ed Miliband was losing. But that’s the point, if you aren’t winning in tennis you change your game.

The Ed Miliband I see right now is different to the leader at the time of the Murdoch crisis. He’s scrapping, harrying and resilient and he shows signs of having read and sussed his opponent’s plays. In the next few months the attacks will keep on raining down on him, but the signs are this is precisely what he needs to capture public support.

Like Hewitt, Ed cannot easily generate huge shots on his own. We’ve seen several listless years in opposition broken only by a challenge to energy companies. Ed needs his opponents to inject the pace for him to get his winning returns. If he can continue to do this under his new coaching team then he will likely become Prime Minister in May. How his counter-punching style will work in Downing Street against a different leader Tory remains to be seen. But for now, Ed has more earned himself a trademark Hewitt scream of ‘C’mon!’

Henry G Manson


Miliband needs to avoid being caught in a Greek pincer

Saturday, January 17th, 2015

David Herdson’s Saturday column

Every Labour government ends up running out of money, though not all go to the trouble of leaving a note to their successor to say so. That they do so is not exactly a feature of left-of-centre politics but it’s not far off: a belief in a big state and increased protection for low-income and vulnerable groups inevitably means lots more spending and because of the protests that would come as a result, a structural deficit builds as taxes don’t go up sufficiently to pay for it. (Of course, right-of-centre governments can make the same mistake from the opposite side by cutting taxes excessively but that’s a point for another day).

There is, consequently, a tension in any left-of-centre party seeking government between on the one hand, appearing competence and capable so as to reassure financial markets and centrist floating voters, and on the other, building the new Jerusalem, inspiring the movement and delivering the goods for their electoral coalition.

Nowhere is there a better example of this than in Greece. There, for about thirty years, the political scene was dominated by two parties: the centre-right New Democracy and the centre-left Pasok. Once the party stopped in 2008, however, Pasok had to choose between their policies and economic reality. They chose – under extremely heavy pressure from the EU and IMF – economic reality; a move that did not go down well with the Greek voters in general and the Pasok supporters in particular. From a combined share of more than 85% in 2007, the duopoly slumped to just 32% in May 2012. Pasok’s vote was 44% in 2009; it’s currently running at 4-5%. In UK terms they’ve gone from more popular than Blair’s Labour to about half the support of Clegg’s Lib Dems in less than six years.

While Pasok opted to move to the centre, the space they created on the denialist left has been filled by Syriza, who if the polls are right and there’s no late swing, will win the election next week, perhaps with an overall majority. Put simply, the Pasok politicians might have recognised reality but their erstwhile supporters haven’t.

Would any of this matter for Britain even if Syriza were to win? Yes, it would. Apart from the havoc that would likely result Greece and to a lesser extent the Eurozone and wider EU, it would rearrange the priorities of what the media and, resultantly, the public think important and put Labour on the spot about their own spending and taxation plans.

Eds Miliband and Balls are well aware that Britain’s left-of-centre voters, not unlike Greece’s (though not perhaps to the same extent), have similarly unrealistic expectations about what is possible. Austerity might be a constraint rather than a government lifestyle choice but it has been one of the main drivers of voters from the Lib Dems to Labour. As a result, for at least the last year, they’ve been trying to simultaneously appear to have Pasok-light fiscal rectitude while engaging in Syriza-light populist campaigning, depending on the intended audience. The problem is that while all parts of Labour’s coalition finds one of those positions attractive, few find both of them so and some find the apparent contradiction disingenuous. However, neither can be dropped without upset too many voters.

Miliband may yet get lucky and see New Democracy elected. If not, avoiding being caught in the Greek pincer will become far harder, as evidence of what happens if you start off your government by running out of money. After all, it’s not the issues that are seen as important now that matter; it’s those that’ll be seen as important in three and a half months that count.

David Herdson


Henry G Manson on Tony Blair’s criticism of Miliband’s election strategy

Wednesday, December 31st, 2014

Labour could win a different way in 2015

Tony Blair has not offered Ed Miliband the same courtesy It is a sign of desperation that Blair has intervened publicly with The Economist in this way. His ‘wing’ of the party is a ragged mess. Many closest supporters and former ministers are no longer MPs, a leadership contest that should have been a shoo-in for David Miliband was lost while Jim Murphy in Scotland showing any sign of political yet faces a struggle against the nationalists. Aspiring Labour parliamentary candidates either keep their distance from the Progress group which promotes New Labour policies.

    Since 1997 the myth that only a New Labour government could be elected has been carefully promoted and perpetuated. The fact a social democratic John Smith-led Labour Party was heading to a solid working majority in 1994 has been buried on the isle of Iona with him.

Blair befriended media owners leading to ridiculous the scenario of the former Labour leader being ‘garbed in white’ on the bank of the River Jordan to be godfather to Rupert Murdoch’s daughter. In contrast Ed Miliband took direct aim at News International during the phone hacking scandal and its ‘sense of immunity’.

Blair’s record as Prime Minister is continually being re-evaluated by events. The decision of Brown to prevent Blair’s government from joining the Eurozone has been vindicated. The free movement of labour throughout the European Union has helped fuel the rise of UKIP and increased the real risk of an EU exit. Over in the USA the President which Blair stood shoulder to shoulder with in going to war in Iraq was replaced by a Democrat who was against the war and defeated the Clinton machine and approach. While Blair urged the West to militarily intervene in Syria, the UK pulled back as a result of Labour and public opposition.

Here lies the threat of Ed Miliband to Tony Blair. Labour’s leader stands very close to showing that it is possible to win without the New Labour playbook. This will have serious implications for Blair as a relatively young ex-Prime Minister who still seeks to influence events. An Ed Miliband victory will end any sense that Blair is the guardian of some secret code to a Labour election victory and will limit his ability to anoint a future leader (currently in the form of Chuka Umunna). As soon as it is accepted that there is more than one way for Labour to win it could lead to a more critical reassessment of Blair’s tenure and squandering of political capital from two giant parliamentary majorities. The radical policies of Cameron in spite of failing to secure a majority already cast those first two terms in a different light.

In many ways it is entirely rational for Tony Blair to want Ed Miliband to lose. His stake in Britain is limited. It’s hard to feel empathy for the working poor of Peterborough while aboard a billionaire’s yacht in the Mediterranean. By intervening in this way Blair further erodes the support of those in the Labour party who were proud of what Labour achieved under his leadership. It is strange, unedifying and sad to watch a leader who preached the importance of party loyalty now sniping from the sidelines. It is indeed a sign of Blair’s weakness not his strength. If Ed wins in May it won’t just be David Cameron who is defeated, but Tony Blair’s reputation will suffer as Labour shows there is another way to win.

Henry G Manson


Lord Ashcroft corrects his Doncaster N poll – EdM NOT in danger from UKIP in Doncaster North

Monday, December 1st, 2014

This post will be updated when this week’s Ashcroft national poll is published


David Herdson on Saturday: Harriet Harman could become LAB’s Michael Howard?

Saturday, November 15th, 2014


The risks of an election can be avoided by not holding one

Sixty thousand tweets of support for Ed Miliband this last week may have put a dampener on speculation about his leadership survival prospects, though not as much as the definitive statement from Alan Johnson ruling himself out of any future contest. For all the goodwill in the country, those who have the Labour leader’s future in their hands remain the MPs and shadow ministers at Westminster.

For the reality remains that as long as Miliband’s personal ratings remain so poor, and as long as the direction of travel in Labour’s polling is southward, he is only one blunder or comment or interpretation from ‘another leadership crisis’ in the reporting of the media.

That may not matter as far as his future as leader goes: Labour has little history of ditching its leaders and the very fact of the tweetfest shows the instinctive loyalty of many of his supporters. On the other hand, that it was felt necessary is also telling. Even so, talk is easy; action is much harder and in the Labour Party, the rules make it nigh-on impossible to shift a leader through the formal procedures, if he’s intent on staying.

The formal rules, however, are not the be all and end all, though they do frame the context in which the debate about Miliband’s future should be seen. It’s generally accepted that had David Miliband resigned at the same time as James Purnell, in June 2009 when Labour was sinking to less than 16% in the European election, he would have had no choice but to go. Being party leader is not enough: you have to be able to put a government together (or be capable of doing so as Leader of the Opposition).

The problem, for any group seeking to mount a coup is that it’s not enough to engineer Miliband’s removal; they’d need to be reasonably sure that the outcome would be sufficiently beneficial to make the disruption worth it and elections are inherently uncertain processes, as well as being, in Labour’s case, expensive and time-consuming.

There is, however, a loophole to be exploited. Labour doesn’t demand a leadership election be held at the earliest convenience in the event of a vacancy; it could be deferred until the summer, with the result to be announced at the party conference. In the interim, the Deputy Leader would step up to the top job. In other words, all it would take for Miliband to be deposed is for enough shadow cabinet members and/or MPs to believe it necessary, and for the NEC to be squared about the timetable thereafter.

The benefits of such a manoeuvre are obvious. For the party, it would save the best part of two months’ infighting and hundreds of thousands of pounds in printing and postage and provide an image of unity. For the other potential leadership candidates, Harman is, at 64, enough of an old pope for young cardinals to vote for. Even were she to win the election, she’d be unlikely to serve more than a term and a half. The Burnhams, Coopers and Umunnas would still stand a chance of their bite at the cherry. In addition, while she undoubtedly has her critics, she wouldn’t be quite the generic politician as Clegg, Cameron or Miliband are. Her gender alone would mark her out, should she choose to mention it.

Do I expect Labour to dump Miliband? No, I don’t – but he is currently skating on very thin ice and the wrong mis-step at the wrong time would prove terminal, so nor would I rule it out entirely. If so, Harriet could be the man.

David Herdson

Harman is available at 40/1 to be next Labour leader and 80/1 to be next PM


Labour insider, Henry G Manson, on the changed mood within the movement about EdM

Thursday, November 13th, 2014

EdM comeback speech

The leader renews his vows with the party & role as underdog

The grassroots response to Ed Miliband’s recent leadership uncertainties showed more enthusiasm for his leadership than at any other time – including at the point of his election. While certain MPs were wobbling, the party’s foot soldiers and supporters were bashing out 60,000 tweets of support.

Yes, Labour folk are suckers for an underdog, but this felt different. There were reasons why they backed him. The stance on Murdoch, pledging to repeal the Health and Social Care Tax, getting rid of the bedroom tax, standing up to rip-off energy companies and so on. It was not a bad shopping list and it needs to be woven into something meaningful and memorable. More on that later*.

    What those dissenting MPs hadn’t bargained on was the membership rising so clearly to Ed Miliband’s defence. Previously the discussion has been about how the public would view a party that considered ditched its leader. Would possible gains be worth the blood spilt? What those plotters hadn’t factored in was the growing role of the Labour’s members.

Six months out from an election and you simply can’t afford to marginalise the people you’re banking on pounding the streets to win the seats. The members weren’t just defending their leader they were opposing the idea that unnamed MPs could fire their leader without their approval or consent.

Just prior to his election as leader I pointed out on these threads how worried I was that Ed would be elected through the college but not win the most votes among members. That’s hung over for him for a while but not any longer. His grassroots back him more than ever, the unions remain supportive and any prospect of a leadership change ended the moment Alan Johnson ruled himself out in any circumstances. How would Ed respond from all this? Business as usual? Well it seems things have changed.

Lucy Powell has now taken charge of the election campaign and is providing the authority it badly needed. She knows Ed’s mind better than anyone and unlike Douglas Alexander is trusted wholeheartedly. She’s already clearing the log-jams and creating a sense of order, pace and purpose that wasn’t previously there. She had mixed reviews when previously Ed’s Head of Office but now she’s an MP and Shadow Minister she’s a transformed politician with some authority. This could easily prove to be one of the most politically important of Ed’s appointments.

Jon Trickett’s involvement will give a dash of the Red Ed. Already we’ve seen the leader back firefighters and defending their retirement age . This hasn’t just cheered the workers involved (who aren’t affiliated to Labour any more) but has given a morale boost and nod to the other public sector workers who have faced a tough time from cuts. This is Ed siding with the underdogs and it’s where he’s most effective.

Some athletes simply aren’t suited to be front-runners. Same goes for horses and for politicians. Ed’s one of them. Labour’s poll lead under Ed often became a source of complacency, conservativism or inertia. Now there’s a real fight on I expect Labour to strike some radical and populist positions that wouldn’t have previously got an airing.

Ed Miliband’s speech today was important. It wasn’t just about making sense of a shopping list* but about getting a taste for the fight. Renewed from the last few weeks he is showing a focus and a hunger that at party conference seemed strangely lacking. Thankfully his Shadow Cabinet will be soon presented as an alternative government in waiting rather than hidden away as potential rivals to the spotlight. Can Ed kick on and win? He can if it’s sustained.

If the Tories underestimate Ed Miliband then they could make a costly mistake. David Cameron reminds me of stronger and slicker horse ‘War Admiral’ but in the last week Ed Miliband has shown he can become the smart and plucky ‘Seabiscuit’. As most of us who enjoy our racing know, underdogs can and do win and the Labour are united and up for the contest: see

Henry G Manson


Leading psephologist argues that likeability ratings are better predictor of voting behaviour than “best leader” questions

Sunday, November 9th, 2014

On this measure Ed is not far behind

One of the issues that the current Ed Miliband issue has brought out is what are the best form of leader ratings.

Prof Paul Whiteley, of University of Essex who ran BPIX, posted an interesting article last night suggesting that some of the standard measures like “best leader” might not be a good indicator of electoral outcomes.

“..Asking who is the best leader is a standard question used by a lot of pollsters to compare the party leaders. However, it is far from an ideal question because it tends to be biased towards the incumbent, regardless of whether they are Labour or Conservatives. The answers, therefore, can give a misleading picture of what people really think.

There is an alternative question which is much better. If you ask voters to provide a score out of ten on a likeability scale, where zero means that a respondent really dislikes a leader and ten means that they really like them, you get quite different results.

It turns out that likeability is closely associated with other desirable traits that a successful leader needs, such as being seen as competent, decisive, in touch with ordinary people and honest. More to the point, it is a powerful predictor of voting intentions and therefore a good guide to what people might do in the general election...”

Looking at the trend in leader likeability Whitley goes on:-

“.. Although Miliband’s score in September 2014 was 3.9, his score among Labour voters was 6.6. In that particular survey 35% of respondents were Labour voters with 33% Conservatives, 7% Liberal Democrats and 12% UKIP.

Labour voters gave Cameron a score of only 2.1 which does not suggest that large numbers of them are about to switch to the Conservatives because they find the prime minister attractive. This was the same score that Conservative voters gave Miliband, so the two leaders are equally disliked by the supporters of their rival parties..

I think that there’s a lot in Whiteley’ analysis. The key thing is, of course, to find the ratings that are the best predictor of how people will vote. Mrs. Thatcher, it will be recalled, was 21% behind James Callaghan as “best PM” three days before she led the Tories to victory in the 1979 general election.

Mike Smithson

2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble