Coffee House

What will Miliband do now?

17 January 2012

The Labour leader Ed Miliband has been determined not to define himself by picking
fights against his own side. He didn’t want to do a Blair or a Cameron and triangulate his way to power. Rather, his model was, in one respect, Thatcher. His team were struck by how she
managed to move the political centre from opposition.

But Miliband now finds his own side picking fights against him. As Pete blogged earlier, Unite’s Len
McCluskey has launched an intemperate attack on him in The Guardian. McCluskey claims that Miliband’s recognition that Labour’s starting point has to be that the cuts will be reality by
2015 has ‘undermined his leadership’. He even suggests that Miliband has now put himself in danger of being ousted by the bogey-men Blairites.

The question now is how does Miliband react to this intervention? Does he take this opportunity to move into triangulation mode? So far, the noises coming out of his office are relatively
conciliatory — they are, as Nick Robinson said just now on the Today Programme, stressing that McCluskey has misunderstood the policy. But there will be those who want Miliband to run with
this, to wear this attack as a badge of his fiscal credibility. The struggle over whether or not to do this could come to define Miliband’s leadership.

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Show comments
  • stuart brettell

    It goes like this. Focus groups say Ed Balls is the wrong side of the argument on austerity and spending more is not believable. Also Milliband regarded as being in the union’s pocket.
    So solution is a quick U turn by Balls and pain directed at the public sector. Faux shock horror by Mccluskey who of course is in on the act.
    Presto, you have clause four lite.
    Sorry fella’s its been done and is hugely transparent.

  • Jon Stack

    Miliband’s distinction between protecting public sector jobs as opposed to pay panders to the kind of vested interests he is supposedly against. He should be promoting productive jobs and linking pay to performance: that would be in the interests of the country as a whole, and more radical than the coalition. Yet again, his message is defensive and inconsistent. How can anyone take anything he says seriously?

  • anyfool

    Blair had his meaningless fight with the Unions to allay the press and the middle classes fears,
    this is the same rubbish.
    The unions will get there pound of flesh, just look at the history of the last government.

  • Cynic

    @David L
    January 17th, 2 “But the alternative explanation is that Miliband is so useless that even his fiends are now despairing of him. You mean even the devils in Hell are no longer backing him? He is lost indeed!

  • Cynic

    The struggle over whether or not to do this could come to define Miliband’s leadership.” You seriously think he will be decisive enough to sort out a solution?

  • Tom Pride

    January 17th, 2012 12:22pm

    And, The Lady had the facts of life on her side.

    Miliband / Thatcher – a somewhat hopeful model. Anyway, two in a single lifetime – impossible.

  • MilkSnatcher

    We should have a “three strikes and you’re out” rule for political parties. So we had Brown, now Miliband, and the third strike will be….?

  • Halcyondaze

    Hot air whipped up by Labour spin doctors in a desperate bid to make their hapless nerd of a leader look vaguely credible.

    This over-privileged, self-righteous, fratricidal little squit should be waffling leftie clap-trap in an obscure student union – not snuffling his boss-eyed way across our nation’s TV screens.

  • Jeremy


    What’s triangulation?

  • Andrew SW18

    This Good Trot, Bad Trot game is as dull as it is unconvincing. These guys are two sides of the same bad penny.

  • mac

    Scots do feel sorry for our English cousins. In England voters now have the choice between the;

    1. Blue Tories (Conservatives)

    2. Yellow Tories (Lib Dems)

    , and now the

    3. Red Tories (Labour)

    It really doesn’t matter who the English vote for south of the border you are always going to end up with a Tory government.

  • Dimoto

    “His team were struck by how she (Thatcher) managed to move the political centre from opposition”.

    Absolute garbage.
    Thatcher was elected by a desperate electorate.
    Then battled heroically for years, to turn around the cosy consensus – even in her own party. More rewriting of history by the left.

    Len doesn’t speak for the unions, he’s just another half-wit Trot spoiling for a fight with “the evil Tories”. He even looks like Scargill.

  • Sir Everard Digby

    More pantomime. Poor Ed,pursued by evil Len. Look out he’s behind you.

    Nice though,of McCluskey to set out his position with clarity. He obviously thinks Ed is bought and paid for. Perhaps Ed and the Unite sponsored MPs will organise a protest strike against their owner’s attempt to suppress freedom of thought?

    Surely he will not simply accept this gross breach of his human rights? Will he be demanding that Unite is closed down -sorry I forgot,Murdoch does not own it.

  • Michelle L Bonwicke-Jones

    Who Leads Labour is it the Union Leaders or political Leaders. Mr Mclusky is trying to hark back to some kind of 1970’s Thatcher verses Arthur Scargill battle.
    Ed Miliband is right to say that Len McClusky is wrong and that Labour must change.
    But he was wrong to play games with the people whom fund his party ( that needs changing too)
    Europe with it’s downgrade was a wake up call for Balls/ Miliband this country need’s a credible opposition not one who does only what is popular, and Ed Miliband may never be a future Prime Minister but he must slay that old dragon Mcclusky who needs reminding of the note that one of the four men of his austerity apocolypse sent
    A certain Mr Liam ‘there is no money left’ Byrne.

  • David L

    I agree with Andrew Taylor (10.07, above) that this may be a great big illusion, designed to convince the electorate that Miliband is taking on his TU paymasters.

    But the alternative explanation is that Miliband is so useless that even his fiends are now despairing of him.

  • Graeme Scott

    What will Ed do now ………… F**k All I hope

  • Hexhamgeezer

    Ed man walking, or rather limping. I’ll give him about 14 months before his defenestration. This Hen McClucky drivel is just a bit of a sop to give the impression that Ed has an idea floating around in that little head of his.

    Desperate stuff Len n’ Eddy.

  • Dennis Churchill

    Miliband has no real choice. The majority of the electorate see the public sector as closeted and over paid. The pensions issue will become more divisive as final salary schemes become the preserve of the public sector.
    In the short term Labour needs to distance itself from the public sector or be seen as merely its political arm. This is difficult for them because the unions, whose own membership is dominated by the public sector, fund them and labour’s membership is also dominated by white collar public sector workers, Peter Oborne recently wrote that teachers are the biggest single employment group among its membership.

  • Pettros

    Come on Ed…sock it too them! Hopefully he doesn’t backtrack and gives the Unions the reality check they deserve.

  • TrevorsDen

    The real problem for the Labour party is that if Ed had not run, then brother Dave would have romped home.
    Ed is suddenly in trouble with the parties paymasters and activists for pursuing a policy which we surmise that Dave would have followed from day 1.

    Ed difficuties are in part his own but also those of the party he leads.

  • Vulture

    Knock knock!

    McCluskey: ‘Who’s there?’

    Millipede: ‘It’s me, pink Ed. is Len-in?’

  • Ed P

    It’s unfair to lame ducks, but keeping not-now-so-red-Ed is the best way to achieve Labour meltdown at the next election. Richly deserved obscurity awaits!

  • Andrew Taylor

    Either, this is a huge conspiracy to make us think that Moribund is not in the union pockets and McCluskey is playing the long chess game, ‘for the Party’, or, Moribund is your run-of-the-mill fiscally incompetent and disingenuous socialist and McCluskey is just a run-of-the-mill chippy Scouser.
    Whichever it is, more of the same please….

  • Austin Barry

    It goes from bad to worse. Soon even Ed’s imaginary friends won’t like him.

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