Saturday, 25 September 2010

Ed Miliband - Labour's Wrong Choice

Wow. That was an incredible result. For a while there I actually thought that David had held on but I had a feeling as they walked into the auditorium that his smile was false. Ed looked petrified. He looked like he'd just put a knife in his elder brother's back.

I was totalling up the figures instantly in my head and once David's final total came to 49.something, I knew straight away as the audience too realised what this meant, that Ed had 50.something.

The Unions decide, not the Members
What strikes me is that it is not the normal members of the Labour Party who have chosen their leader but the Trade Unions. David Miliband should have won this contest and indeed he led all of the way until the final ballot.

Indeed on the first ballot, the scores were as follows.

David M 37.78%
Ed M 34.33%
Balls 11.79%
Burnham 8.68%
Abbott 7.42%

Eventually, it was Ed Balls' votes that finally took Ed past his brother.

But David Miliband had the larger support of his fellow MPs and the membership at large. They clearly saw what the country would've seen in David Miliband - a Prime Minister in-waiting. His own MPs backed him in greater numbers than any other and the members of his own party also.

But that means nothing. To paraprhase the Sun in 1992, 'It was the Unions wot won it'. They've got their man, but it wasn't the man the Labour Party actually wanted. This brings into sharp focus the mess that is the electoral college that elects a Labour Party member. The Liberal Democrats vote their leader on a 'one member, one vote' basis and that's the democratic way in which it should work.

Labour's Left-ward march
I had great concern that David Miliband's wider, mass appeal would give him the edge. I worried that Labour would see the light and have the sense to pick the man who could bring them back to the centre.

But the Unions have pulled them back to the left. Of course, this will be very popular with many within the Labour Party but at a wider level, I see this as a back-ward step for Labour. A move to the left won't play well in the country as a whole.

This will be re-emphasised if Ed chooses Ed Balls as his Shadow Chancellor. It's very possible that he will. If he takes that decision, he will alienate yet more centrist, middle-of-the-road supporters.

Responsibility for past mistakes
What we must remember of course, is that like all of the other candidates (apart from Diane Abbott) Ed sat in the out-going Labour Cabinet. They took collective responsibility for decisions that led to the economic mess in which we now find ourselves. He will find it particularly difficult to speak against government policy from a left-leaning position, if he doesn't acknowledge this.

Good luck Labour - you're going to need it
Of course, good government depends on having a good opposition. Ed Miliband therefore has a great responsibility ahead of him.

However, since May, Labour have been anything but responsible. More people would listen to their protestations against coalition government policy, if they actually admitted to fouling up Britain's economy up in the first place, instead of bickering from the sidelines as if it was nothing to do with them.

Ed would do well to make this admission from the outset as leader. Somehow however, I doubt he will and if the Unions pull him left, then responsible opposition is not what we'll get.

The Labour Party Leadership Result in Full

1st Preference
David M 37.8%
Ed M 34.33%
Balls 11.8%
Burnham 8.7%
Abbott 7.4%

2nd Preference
David M 38.9%
Ed M 37.47%
Balls 13.2%
Burnham 10.4%

3rd Preference
David M 42.72%
Ed M 41.26%
Balls 16.02%

4th Preference
Ed M 50.65%%
David M 49.35%

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