Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Labour Moves On (or Back) to the Future ?

Congratulations to Ed Miliband on becoming the new Labour leader and only the 17th man to hold that title (apparently). In a tight election, he defeated his brother David by 50.65% to 49.35% by dint of winning most supporters among the Unions.

The manner of his election has (not surprisingly) drawn considerable fire from the Conservative partisan herd on sites like politicalbetting and elsewhere who have spent the last 72 hours in an almost continuous vitriolic onslaught on the man, his personal life and his policies.

No surprise there of course and of course the few Labour supporters have rallied to Ed’s defence in similar vituperative terms.

It is of course far too early to pass any kind of judgement on the man who is now leader of the Opposition. It is always better to win a clear-cut victory in any kind of electoral process than to scramble across the line in a near photo-finish but that won’t matter for long. The relationship of ANY Labour leader with the Unions is of significance given their huge financial involvement in the party. It’s little surprise that after the Blair years which saw the Unions marginalised that the movement has been making a comeback.

Despite the dreadful defeat (in terms of vote share) suffered by Labour in May, there seem no shortage of optimists in the anti-Coalition camp (both Labour and Conservative) who think that Ed Miliband could well be the next Prime Minister and they may well be right though much would depend on engineering an early downfall of said Coalition.

Interesting to note Ed Miliband’s support for AV and there’s little doubt that were Labour to stand wholeheartedly behind the AV campaign, it would have a good chance of success and it would begin the process of rebuilding relationships between Labour and the Liberal Democrats, ruptured as they were by the events of May. Pragmatic Lib Dems know that nothing lasts for ever and a coalition with Labour is a far from impossible future scenario under AV.

Miliband is going to suffer more vitriol in opposition than any leader since Neil Kinnock and it will be an unpleasant and demeaning experience but if he endures it, he will be all the stronger for it.

Conservative activists apparently opened the bubbly on the news of Ed Miliband’s victory on Saturday night but celebrations may turn out to have been premature.

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