Ed Miliband re-launched his Labour Party leadership on Tuesday. By Wednesday afternoon, his advisors were already pencilling in a date for the next re-launch.
His performance at Prime Ministers questions on Wednesday was lacklustre, to say the least, and the body language of Labour MP’s on the green benches spoke volumes.
Many of them believe that they have been saddled with someone who is not up to the job, principally through the Trade Unions block vote in the leadership election contest. However, so convoluted are the rules to dispense of a Labour leader that it is highly unlikely they will be able to do much about it before the next General Election. Challenging Ed seems to be a desirable prospect, but in practical terms, it isn’t going to happen.
The sad thing for the Labour leader, and the frustrating thing for his supporters, is that the content of what he says is often very good. His ‘squeezed middle’ analysis has struck a chord with many, and his attack at his party conference on ‘immoral’ businesses, considered ham-fisted and risky at the time, has actually been seen as a potential winner politically; so much so that the Prime Minister has adopted the strategy, strongly attacking executive bonuses and pay in his New Year message, and promising action.
The problem with Miliband is not that he isn’t bright. Nor is he weak, as some have suggested – it took bottle, like it or not, for him to take on his brother for the leadership. What he says is often in sync with public opinion. But like several party leaders before him, William Hague, Iain Duncan Smith, Neil Kinnock and Michael Foot, he just does not have the charisma or media presence that a modern political leader needs.
Rumour has it that the Tories have a strategy in plan that wounds Miliband, but does not kill. Cameron wants him there at the next election as his primary opponent.
It’s not all plain sailing for him and his Liberal Democrat chums though. There are an increasing number of fall outs emerging on a number of policy fronts, not least Europe.
The planned five year term that was agreed by the coalition may not last the course if that continues.
That would not suit Labour. It would not suit Nick Clegg. It may suit the Conservatives, so perhaps we can expect Cameron and his colleagues to be even more bullish- and Tory- on a range of issues in 2012.