The Labour party’s reaction to today’s opinion polls will tell us a great deal about how well Ed Miliband has really invested in his party. If the backbenchers feel they have a stake in the Labour leader, and as though he is worth fighting for – which Conservative MPs have often not felt about Cameron, leading to them airing their dirty laundry in public – then the panic in the party won’t break out beyond John Mann’s intervention today. The backbencher told Pienaar’s Politics that ‘of course it’s a warning shot and it would be naive to think otherwise. I think the message is that we need to be much clearer and I think simpler in putting across what our alternative is and what we stand for.’
Mann said this wasn’t just a Miliband problem but also the Shadow Cabinet and the whole party. But the Shadow Cabinet do worry about a lack of strategy and an absence of a clear message that they can work with too.
The test for the Conservative party is whether today’s figures (and of course setting a great deal of store by just one weekend’s polling is where the electoral madness lies) gives MPs – from backbencher all the way to Chancellor – a sense that they should pull together and stop wondering about non-existent leadership contests.