Ed Miliband today achieved what might previously have seemed impossible. His Labour Party/union reform speech had Tony Blair gushing before it was even delivered – and it had the approval of Unite Union leader Len McCluskey immediately afterwards. …
But whatever the long-term impact of Miliband’s ideas, he achieved a tidy political set-piece today. This mattered for Ed because he is often written up as a man not ready for the job. In the middle of last week, some of his front-bench was briefing that he needed to “get a grip” on the union influence stories spilling forth from the initial problem in Falkirk. In a few days of practiced political management, Miliband does seem to have tightened – if not quite sewn up – this troublesome narrative, for the time being, at least.
You can look back on the past week and see a plan that was quickly put together and decisively executed. There was a resignation, suspensions and police referrals last week. A grim-faced Angela Eagle was deployed to tell a “get tough” story on Falkirk. This week, the lobby was briefed in advance of Miliband’s speech on some meaty reform details. Blair obliged with his warm endorsement on Sky News right ahead of the speech and Miliband sprung a genuine surprise with a voter-friendly proposal to restrict the amount MPs can earn outside of their day jobs. The analysts were so impressed by this last point that they said Miliband had hurled the ball cleverly in to the Tory half of the court for a response.
And this is how competent political management should look.
The contrast with David Shearer’s Labour leadership in New Zealand is incredibly stark. MPs in NZ are again whispering to journalists about Shearer’s leadership and playing dumb with their bosses when asked for an explanation (this is what I took to have happened with the Duncan Garner tweet drama last night, NZ time, for those who were following it). Whatever his colleagues say, it’s clear that Shearer does not have enough of the confidence of his own caucus. …
He seems too far gone as leader now.
The diverging prospects of the two Labour leaders over the past week are instructive. Neither man is as politically gifted as his centre-right adversary, but at least one of them is making some of his own luck.
To be fair to Shearer, he is not solely responsible. The Deputy Leader is meant to play a key role in party management, as are the staff.