So, Milliband minor has pipped Milliband major to the Labour leadership post. And many some a few a tiny handful of people are interested in my opinions on the subject. For the fact is even I am not interested in my opinion on Labour’s new boss. Anyone who thinks they know what this means for the electorate, is lying. But as this isn’t going to stop pundits from all parties and the commentariat, I’m going to guess what this means.
I suspect that Labour will unite under Milliband minor. But this was always not going to be a problem. Labour’s tribal psychology suits opposition. They’re idealists who are quickly revolted by the necessary compromises of Government. They have united quickly around the Balls/Brownite position of opposition to “cuts” under all and any circumstances. And I don’t think “red Ed” will change that. Perhaps Milliband Major would have led the party to come to terms with the need to scale back state spending, but he would have been resisted every step of the way if he did. So the choice for the leader is either economic insanity and party unity OR a reasonable appeal to the electorate and a decade of infighting. They’ve gone, sensibly for unity for their decade in the wilderness.
Now Labour is riding relatively high in the polls. This is for a number of reasons: first the regular coverage granted to the Labour party election helps. Who’s on the news gets a polling boost. Secondly the BBC endlessly describing the cuts as “painful” helps sell the Labour “cuts! Waaaaa!” narrative. Opposition to cuts from the union Barons can coalesce around a leaderless Labour party, who at the same time provide no target for the Government to shoot at. Finally, freed from the pressures of Government, Labour politicians can say what their supporters want to hear and this has led to an increase in membership. The Labour tribe is much happier in opposition to the EEEEeeeeevil Tories than it ever was in Government.
One thing I always notice is that Labour party politicians talk of their party as if it’s the country. Only Tony Blair was able to shake this habit, and he’s reviled in the party. Ed Milliband may talk about “supporting the squeezed middle” but that middle has not forgotten that the previous leader saw them as pips to be made to squeak. He then immediatley goes on to promise a life-time of higher taxes to that “squeezed middle’s” children.
Nevertheless, I suspect that the Labour party will soon get sustained 40% plus polls. I suspect there will be a “Noo Ledah” bounce as there was for the God-awful shit-bird, Gordon Brown. And Millibrother minor is nowhere near as gut-wrenchingly dreadful as the one-eyed son of the Manse. But there is a LONG way to go to the next election, and Ed Milliband is not a politician in the same class as Tony Blair or David Cameron. With his election, The Coalition will have a target to fire at, one who wrote the manifesto which propelled Labour to its worst performance since 1982. Finally the cuts will be nowhere near as “painful” as the Labour party and the trolls in the public sector unions are trying to make you believe. The Labour tribe may believe that the only growth possible comes from public spending, but private sector profitability is rising, demand is following business confidence up and the Private sector will, by the next election be shouldering the burden of growth in salaries and employment that has been bourne by the tax-payer for most of the last decade, to theextreme detrement to the country’s finances. The Labour tribe’s (in which I include the BBC) promises of “pain” will not be matched by people’s experience of the recovery from Brown’s fiscal insanity. I suspect Labour will enjoy a few months or a year riding in the polls, but as the election approaches, and the economy improves, the Electorate will be asked to choose between David Cameron, and the Ed Milliband, and the Tories will win an electoral mandate to Govern alone, even if they then choose to continue in coalition.
Labour pundits will talk their own book, and talk their man up, but the habits of opposition are already too entrenched in the Labour movement. It is, after all, where they belong. The Unions’ strikes will be the mud that sticks to Ed Milliband, who is already being described as “the Unions’ choice”. The only predicition I will be confident to make about the new leader is that Ed Milliband will never be Prime-Minister.