Archive for the 'Ed Miliband' Category


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


If the Miliband rumblings haven’t quietened down after the weekend then he could be in trouble

Friday, November 7th, 2014

What seems to have set this off – a New Statesman article

Looking over the past couple of days the trigger for the Miliband leadership speculation appears to have been a highly critical article in the normally Ed-friendly New Statesman by the Editor, Jason Cowley. He then went on to stand by his views on Sky News.

What we don’t know at the moment is whether there’s organised opposition going on or in what form the next move will come.

As is being pointed out is is no easy task getting rid of a LAB leader who is determined to hang on. Unlike the Tories and LDs the rules are complex.

The only way you could see him stepping aside is if he went on his own accord. My reading us that he’s extraordinarily resilient and will endeavour to hang in there.

This close to an election no one wants to be accused of rocking the boat.

In any case LAB insiders are pointing to the potential trouble for Cameron the week after next if Rochester goes to UKIP. Tory MPs are generally less veiled in their public criticism then LAB ones.

Mike Smithson

2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble


Survation poll for the Mirror showing LAB 4% ahead could take some of the pressure off Ed

Friday, November 7th, 2014

UKIP now within just 3% of the Tories

Although Survation has become a major part of the UK polling scene since GE10 its standard Westminster voting surveys are only a small part of its output. Today, however, there’s a new poll for the Daily Mirror which could provide some relief for the Ed Miliband camp under siege after a day of leadership speculation.

The 4% LAB margin is the biggest in any poll since YouGov recorded a 7% lead nearly a month ago. The last Survation national poll in early October had LAB and CON level-pegging.

Survation has a reputation for producing the best shares for Farage’s party and is the only pollster that always includes it in its prompts.

    The poll is a good reminder that the party that’s most vulnerable to the UKIP surge is CON which has seen much more of its 2010 support seep away to it than either LAB or the LDs.

Meanwhile the most significant other leadership development is a report in the Times that the two front runners for next LAB leader, Yvette Cooper and Andy Burnham, have agreed what’s described as a “non aggression” pact should Ed step down. This sounds like the sort of arrangement that leading Tories had in 2003 when IDS was ousted and Michael Howard became leader unopposed.

If this is indeed the case then my guess is that Burnham would make way for Cooper who didn’t stand in the 2010 contest when her husband, Ed Balls, was a contender. Burnham was one of the losers when Ed won.

Yesterday I got 100/1 on Yvette Cooper with Ladbrokes to be PM for the post general election Queen’s Speech. It seemed a good price.

Mike Smithson

2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble


The pressure on Ed Miliband – Marf gives her take

Thursday, November 6th, 2014

disaffection (1)

  • If you would like to purchase one of Marf’s prints or originals, please contact her here.

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    Richard Nabavi asks Would Ed face a coup a few months after a Labour victory?

    Tuesday, October 7th, 2014

    EdM Speech 2014

    Please note this piece was written before the recent polling putting the Tories ahead

    If the voting in the next General Election reflects current opinion polling, Ed Miliband will become Prime Minister next May. Of course, the Conservatives are hopeful that the polls will shift before then, but, as things stand today, the possibility of a Labour-led government, either in a hung parliament or with a small majority, is certainly a very real one. The betting marketscurrently make it around a 50% chance that Ed and Justine will move into No 10.

    If so, it will be a remarkable turnaround for the Labour Party following the 2010 defeat, but not one which seems to be based on any great enthusiasm for the party amongst the electorate. Ed Miliband’s own ratings are dire, confidence in the party’s economic competence is notable by its absence, and the policy cupboard is quite remarkably bare. If Ed does become PM, it will be by default, on the back of the core Labour vote, disgruntled ex-LibDems, and division amongst his opponents.

    All the same, you might have expected that the prospect of getting back into power so soon, with UKIP taking lumps out of the Tories’ electoral chances, would have electrified the Labour Conference, that morale would be good, and that Labour supporters’ attention would be moving to what a Labour government would be able to achieve. Not so:

    “The atmosphere at its annual conference in Manchester has not been that of a party headed for power…. Ed Miliband’s big conference speech, which did not mention Britain’s budget deficit once, failed to lift the mood. “It’s all so depressing,” said one MP. “It’s not really what we call leadership. I think we’re stuffed.”, wrote Jim Pickard in the Financial Times.

    “Rather than an infantry advancing on Downing Street, Labour resembled a wounded army in need of convalescence” , notedGeorge Eaton in the New Statesman. ”As one shadow cabinet minister put it: “We might fall over the line.” The air of resignation that suffused Manchester was born of the awareness that the best Labour can now hope for is a scrappy win.”

    These are the sort of comments you might expect to see towards the end of a party’s period in power, not at the start of a rebirth. Yet, if Labour does form the next government, it will have some very serious issues to address, most notably the need, admitted on all sides, for further and deeper public spending cuts. There is no sign that the party is preparing itself for the tough challenges ahead, still less that they are relishing those challenges. After Ed Miliband’s dire Conference speech and the failure to forge a coherent policy package, and given the rumblings of discontent amongst senior Labour figures, he looks far from being able to provide effective leadership in very difficult conditions and against the grain of Labour’s love affair with big-spending. Things would be particularly hard for him in a hung parliament or with a very small majority, having to fend off rebellions and ambushes.

      This all suggests that a Miliband government, starting off with no real enthusiasm, would very soon plumb the depths of unpopularity President Hollande has seen in France. But there’s one big difference: a French president cannot realistically be dislodged once he is in office. A British Prime Minister can be; in practice, whatever the formal rule book says, all it takes is for his senior cabinet colleagues to tell him to go.

    Yvette Cooper or Andy Burnham, and perhaps one or two others, are much more popular in the party than Ed is, and seem more credible and bigger figures than he does, as their Conference speeches showed. No move can be made before the election, but I’d be surprised if they are not thinking along the lines I have indicated. Ed could indeed become PM in May 2015 – but perhaps not for very long.

    Richard Nabavi

    Richard Nabavi is a long standing contributor to PB.