In the Autumn of 2010 Ed Miliband was elected leader of the Labour Party in a surprise move as a result of strong backing from union bosses. A few days later I appeared on LBC to discuss Miliband’s victory and his likely success at, the then distant, next General Election. Representatives from other political leanings (Labour and Lib Dem) believed if Miliband could win his party leadership vote then he could win a national election too. My conclusion was that Miliband was an unelectable geek who simply would not connect with voters. Perhaps a harsh assessment - in retrospect a little too personal - but one I stand by today.
By the end of this week Ed Miliband could be Prime Minister. What is more likely however, based on current polls, is that coalition discussions will be ongoing and the country will be facing an uncertain future. Ultimately I expect David Cameron to be Prime Minister again and Miliband to be replaced as Labour leader by the end of the year.
What has Ed Miliband’s role been in getting to this point? If we look at the Labour election campaign it has been a strong, disciplined one. It has been based on a false choice - that there is another solution to solving the UK’s economic problems than constraining public spending - but this seems a message attractive to many. Miliband’s role has been to act as chief message deliverer which he has performed well. Although his choice of words seem straight out of a sub-standard media training session he does deliver his message, time and again.
Miliband has performed better than expected by many and has seen his approval rating improve. It is still, net, a negative number but it has still improved slightly. Similarly he was seen to do ok in the big set piece media debates although was saved by Jeremy Paxman’s excessive aggression towards him when being openly ridiculed by the studio audience. All-in-all since January Miliband has kept it safe, boring even, in a bid to be seen as a Prime Minister in waiting. What then possessed him to stand next to an eight foot bit of limestone engraved with fine sounding but hollow party slogans in car park in Hastings. What possessed him to put his signature on it as if he were a crazed totalitarian communist leader? What, perhaps above all, made him state with utter solemnity that he would plant the lump of stone in the Downing Street garden?
It was hands down the worst photo opportunity of this election campaign (or perhaps any election campaign) and undermined the credibility Ed Miliband had fought so hard for five years to try and win. It looked awful, was ridiculed by all at the Daily Mirror (who are the Labour Party’s Pravda equivalent) and failed to communicate the messages Labour need to get across to voters with only hours to go until polling day.
It was a sad election stunt thought of by some person in a Labour back room too clever for their own good. As soon as the idea was floated to the man with ambitions to be our next Prime Minister he should have said no. That he didn’t says a lot about Ed Miliband and is why he is my Mis-Communicator of the Week.
Communicator of the Week is written by Ed Staite.
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