Three challenges for Ed Miliband


Congratulations to Ed Miliband. As Left Foot Forward predicted, the younger Miliband brother won 51% to 49% in a “neck and neck” race.

In a result which reinforces the need for party unity, David Miliband won the MPs and MEPs section of the party by 53% to 47% and the members section by 54% to 46% but lost the affiliates section by 60% to 40% handing the result to his brother by the narrowest of margins.

Also as predicted by Left Foot Forward, Ed Balls came third with his supporters splitting 3:2 to Ed Miliband – enough to hand him victory from second place in all the previous rounds.

There are now three key aims for the new party leader.

1. Unity

The close nature of the race means that although Ed Miliband has won, he did so in the narrowest of possible circumstances. He has, as his primary task, to unite the party and reach out to the supporters and staff of his brother.

It was always a caricature to describe Ed Miliband as being ‘Red Ed’ or in the pocket of the unions. But he must now work hard to show that he recognises the strongest of his brother’s arguments: the need for economic credibility, taking the Big Society seriously, and retaining a focus on issues like crime and law and order.

2. Credibility

The Shadow Cabinet elections will conclude on October 7th with the Spending Review on October 20th. Those 13 days will be critical for the next five years. Labour’s top team must present their own spending review settlement. This should clearly set the preferred speed of deficit reduction, ratio of spending cuts to tax rises, and how those will be made up. Only by having a clear position can the party oppose the Coalition’s own cuts.

As Left Foot Forward has shown, by sticking to Alistair Darling’s timetable but switching to a 50:50 ration with no protection for the Health budget, departmental cuts can be reduced to 8 per cent – in stark contrast to the Coalition’s 25 to 40 per cuts.

As Ed Balls has shown, the arguments for a different deficit reduction plan are clear but the Labour party must have credibility to make them.

3. Change

Ed Miliband’s narrow victory shows that the Labour party has chosen to move on from the New Labour years. Ed is well placed to diverge from the worst excesses of Labour’s time in Government by winning back the voters who the party lost over Iraq and civil liberties (so long as he stops calling for the Lib Dem’s “extinction”!). Campaigning for a ‘Yes’ vote in the AV election will be a clear way of showing that the party is on the side of progressive change and can work with Lib Dems where there is a principled reason to do so.

But he must also move on from the statist policies and unimaginative narrative which cost Labour the last election. In this regard he should heed the advice of his brother and Andy Burnham and once again reach out to aspirational voters with a message of opportunity. Special focus should be placed on southern constituencies where David Miliband was right to point out that Labour had only won 12 seats. Focusing on what John Healey terms the “squeezed middle” will be key to this.

While New Labour is now a relic of the past, the strategy used to win the party three successive elections should never be forgotten.

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  • Anon E Mouse

    Will – You were very good on Any Questions – at one point you were trying to explain you were there representing LFF and not the Labour Party and (I think) Chris Huhne talked over you.

    At that point I was yelling at the radio (that’s not a first for me) for you to get the point, which you did later. Good.

    It was a measured performance and I thought your points were well made and although I disagree with a couple of them they were properly presented.

    Regarding this election I wish it had been David Miliband but there go.

    If this post feels a bit sycophantic just take it down. I’m still blocked at home so won’t be around to annoy anyone until Monday but fear not Will Straw. Irrespective of your new found fame it won’t deter me from criticising Labour at every opportunity…

  • http://boffyblog.blogspot.com/ Boffy

    The real task before considering electoral strategies is to rebuild the Party, and its base within the working class. It has to do that by responding to the immediate challenge of the Tory Cuts, by providing unconditional support for workers struggles, whilst providing a political solution that breaks from the limits of statism of old labour, and encourages self-activity of workers, taking the Tories claims about support for Co-operatives at their word, but pushing them way beyond the Tories want to impose on them.

    In the end as I say in my blog Ed Miliband winsthe sons have to learn the lessons of their Father from “Parliamentary Socialism”. Leaders can only really make a difference if they are based on a real social force.

  • torieboy

    yes congratulations to ed and let’s hope that ed Balls will be he’s choice of shadow Chancellor, and bob crow he’s adviser on union matters.

  • Chris

    @Mouse

    Oh yawn, talk about obsessive; are you Will Straw’s stalker? Do we have to wait until Monday for your focus group of mentalists, mental relatives and strange men in bars?

  • Richard

    Warsi sticking the knife in, wow she must have been chewing the ears off the sky team to get her on the telly.
    What ever Ed does he must not give up the center ground.

  • Liberanos

    Super result. Now let’s remake our friendships with Cuba, Venezuela and other great, progressive nations, double the minimuum wage, increase taxes, bring the unions back into decisive positions in government, destroy the greedy boss class, deport Tony Blair and rejoice in our stupendous, Michael Foot moment!

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  • Chris Baldwin

    Of course, being the union-backed candidate would pretty much rule out him being an arch-lefty, wouldn’t it? This is the Labour Party, remember.

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  • Chris

    @Richard

    LOL, yeh it seems Warsi is the tories hatchet woman wheeled out to drone on.

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  • Anon E Mouse

    Chris – hahaha. Nice one!

    Do you actually read this blog or just go around the internet with that obsessive and compulsive manner you have – you know the one Chris, I’m not the first to mention it – using bad language and being generally unpleasant?

    Nice to see you back – those school holidays went quickly didn’t they…

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