25 September 2013

Beware the Ides of March, Ed

Benedict Brogan has been in Brighton for the Labour Party Conference and today his always informative Morning Briefing  concentrated on Ed Miliband’s speech. As usual the Briefing ended with links to Best Comment in the Daily Telegraph and “the rest”, with the final link being to a piece by Mary Ann Sieghart.  This was not in the mainstream media but posted on the Social Market Foundation’s Market Square, Will Ed Miliband still be Labour leader next spring? Sieghart, it seems, was also in Brighton, and she began:
The sun’s been shining in Brighton, Labour is ahead in the polls, new policies are at last being produced, so this should have been a good week for Ed Miliband. Instead, I found myself being collared by a Shadow Cabinet minister, determined to explain to me how the Labour leader could be ousted as early as next spring. If Labour is behind the Tories in the polls by then – which could easily happen as the economy recovers – my informant predicts an uprising by Labour MPs against Miliband. It doesn’t matter how arcane the rules are for ousting a Labour leader; if he loses the confidence of, say, 100 MPs, he’ll have to go.
and ended:
It would be a desperate, and pretty unfair, move to get rid of Miliband before he has even faced the electorate. But don’t underestimate the fury of MPs fearing the loss of their seats. The Tories did it to Iain Duncan Smith in 2003, who also looked out of his depth. Labour has traditionally been more charitable towards unpopular leaders, but my sense is that the parliamentary party’s patience is waning. If Ed Miliband decides to take a dip this gloriously sunny afternoon, his colleagues may conclude he is not waving, but drowning.
She didn’t think much of Miliband’s speech,  scoffing “that it’s not possible to describe his supporters as Milibandites. What, after all, would a Milibandite believe?” and she went on:
It was easy to define a Thatcherite as someone who wanted to take the state out of the economy, restore the right of managers to manage, and reward the aspirational classes. A Blairite was someone who took the side of the consumers of public services, not the producers, and was happy to allow market mechanisms in, as long as they made the services better. A Milibandite seems able only to share the voters’ pain – “squeezed middle”, “falling living standards” – but not to have an ideological template that prescribes treatment as well as diagnosing the illness.
Anyone who is trying to locate Sieghart in these three groupings might want to take a look at a post here last year.

Sieghart's SMF Market Square post was described as being by a “Guest”, although she is actually Chair of the SMF Board. There is also a SMF Policy Advisory Board which includes, by my reckoning, three members of the Shadow Cabinet.

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