25th October 2010

A Tory take on ‘Red Ed’

Tory, Gaz Morris, discusses whether ‘Red Ed’ offers a threat to the Conservatives.

Yes, you read correctly – a Tory writing about Labour; more specifically, the Labour leadership election. For those of you not yet up to speed, allow me to fill you in – Ed Miliband is now the leader of the Labour Party. This is implicit of a few things; new policy will follow, a new dimension is going to be spun onto British politics and the next Christmas dinner at the Miliband household is going to be very, very awkward.

Truth be told I’ve not been following the leadership election, feeling about as much need to keep track of who will next be leading Labour as, well, a Tory keeping track of who will be the next Labour leader. Contrary to what many people might have thought about what my slant on the Labour leadership election might be, I’m going to try my damnedest not to berate Red Ed too much and try and focus on speculative niceties of what this might mean in the near future.

First, it is evident that the Labour party doesn’t care about having a good-looking leader. Ed is, to be fair to him, gormless. Not that it matters how one looks when it comes to politics (neither John Major nor Gordon Brown could particularly be described as ‘lookers’ and David Cameron, despite what my politics might suggest, isn’t going to win too many beauty pageants) but I thought that I’d get petty personal insults out at the start. Second, the son of a Marxist theorist, Ed may well have his sights set on the left. Only this Sunday he declared New Labour ‘dead’ and has been supported by the biggest trade unions (Unite and UNISON) in his leadership campaigns.

This lattermost point needs some further consideration – by Parliamentary and Constituency votes alone, David should have won the election in the final round of voting, achieving 140 votes amongst MPs to Ed’s 122 and 67,000 votes to Ed’s 56,000. Ed, however, swept along almost 120,000 of the Trade Union and socialist society votes; almost a third more than his brother. The implications of this may be profound – although Ed has declared that he will be ‘his own man’, one wonders if the Unions will remind him when embarking on policy not supportive of their interests that it was they who put him there. Whilst this may not equal a lurch to the left, it may result in Labour losing a little support from middle England who had originally joined up under the auspices of New Labour.

Another dimension that might be quite difficult to predict will be the first PMQ duel between Ed and Dave. Having viewed how Ed reacts to goading and teasing that seems to be a staple of Commons procedure these days (read: badly) there is the potential for things to, over the course of a debate, go from bad to worse for the opposition. Conversely, Labour can now be bolstered by their having a legitimately elected leader behind whom they can unite and who can now start to issue policy statements. Personally, I’m not sure policy will be too forthcoming in the first few months – many may want him to whet his teeth with a few bilious (and yet ultimately hollow) rants concerning coalition policy, though I am genuinely interested to see how he lines himself up with regard the deficit.

Two questions therefore remain. First; am I, as a Tory, concerned? No. It still remains to be seen whether or not Red Ed will make good his election pledges and provide and adequate challenge to the coalition. It also remains to be seen if the public will warm to him as a politician.

Also; will Labour win the next election with Ed at the helm? I don’t know. If a week is a long time in politics, then 2015 (and the next general election) is an ice age away.

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