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The wrong Mili-bland brother left politics and now Labour has a real PR problem


By Andy Barr, Head Yeti

March 28, 2013 | 6 min read

This is one of those columns where I had to think long and hard about the consequences of writing something that will be so forthright.

David Miliband: a more credible alternative to Ed - and the Tories?

I think it is important that I am transparent from the start. Personally, I have had the pleasure of working, in some small way, with both the Labour and Conservative parties. In fact, I was once a card-carrying, fully signed-up Tory but I lost interest after the last election. So, that is me, I am now a floating PR voter.

We are coming to the end of the spring conference season and with little under two years before the next general election, now is a good time to look at the Labour PR and “votability” situation.

Being honest, it is not looking good. Being really honest and borderline brutal, Ed Milibland is, in my mind alone, the root of the problem; he is unelectable.

The grand fromages of the Labour Party have a tough decision: do they cut their losses now and give Ed the boot, or do they power on and hope for some sort of miracle come polling day?

Why is it looking so bleak for Labour? Well, the writing is on the wall via the polls for one.

Labour is currently around 10 points ahead of the Conservatives across many of the polls, which to an outsider looks brilliant.

The truth is though, and senior Labour party insiders will know this, it is far less than they would have hoped given the coalition is midway through its term. The economy shows no sign of improvement and Cameron has succeeded in making sure none of the major policy issues that have appeared during his tenure have caused his personal reputation much long-term damage.

At this stage, Labour should be far further ahead in the polls than 10 points.

In fact, Dave’s major headache moving towards the 2015 election is actually an in-party one, courtesy of the tousle-haired-walking-soundbite that is Boris Johnson and his run for the top job.

This is the part of my column that feels a bit personal, a bit uncomfortable and a bit, well, not very British but, the other main reason Labour are stuffed is their current head honcho, Ed. As I said before, he is unelectable.

I am perfect fodder for both parties really - I grew up in a council estate, worked my way (some may say blagged) through several senior roles at good companies before saving a few bob and co-launching an agency.

I would never, ever, vote for Ed Milibland and his PR team has a Herculean task of getting him in power. He simply comes across as weak. The kind of geeky kid that was the butt of all the jokes at school, handy to have around for homework copying but never really that popular.

I don’t think men will vote for him because of this perceived weakness and I don’t think females will vote for him because he appears to lack character, pizzazz or natural charm.

I cannot remember one serious blow he has landed on Cameron during PMQs; in fact, Cameron seems to swat him away, safe in the knowledge that Ed cannot think fast enough on his feet to come back with anything memorable.

A commander of public speaking he is not. I would go as far as to say that he is one of the worst political public speakers in recent times, unable to inspire anyone except those in the chemist looking to get their nasal problem fixed.

There, I brought up the nasal thing and although I feel a right arse for mentioning it, it is something that his PR team is obviously scared to address with him.

Similar to Major after Thatcher, Ed is in a horrid place coming after a truly global-level leader in Blair and then, despite the obvious, the very capable Gordon Brown.

It may be that, similar to Hague, it has all come a bit too early for Milibland; I think he should have done the right thing and let his far more capable brother take the fight to the Conservatives. David was, and still is - there is time for him to return to politics - a very credible and worthy opponent to the Conservatives.

Labour’s only real solution, someone with gravitas, is Ed Balls. I bumped into him once at a service station during his own leadership campaign and he struck me as a genuine, passionate, fire in the belly kind of guy.

His main problem is his association with the boom and bust years of Gordon Brown, but he is a quick thinker, a good orator and, most notably, is the one person Cameron seems to avoid baiting when he stands at the box smashing Labour questions for six.

Ed’s weakness is the elephant in the room for the Labour party and I hope they address it and make the next election a real battle, otherwise the Conservatives are just going to switch on their hugely impressive and very awesome election machine (they have some of the brightest minds I have ever seen in their HQ team) and sweep the board.

Happy Easter everyone and sorry Ed.

If you fancy firing instant abuse you can find me on The Twitter: @10Yetis


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