It has been a bad year for Ed Milliband and Ed Balls, and it isn’t even 17 days old yet.
I’ll mention but not dwell on the non-relaunch relaunch that didn’t really achieve much. The level of indifference provoked in the media was worthy of a LibDem press conference in the early 1990s.
Choosing an opposition day debate on fuel prices on the day when they came down was unlucky. Picking a fight on train fares was just plain daft.
The u-turn on economic policy was essential if Labour are to be a reasonable opposition, but despite the rather incoherent claims of Balls of “no change” they’ve veered too far. At the moment it appears they oppose everything and nothing. Surely a more subtle line is possible.
Government at all levels needs engaged and sensible opposition. The opposition need to remember they aren’t in government but they need, in the national interest, to critique and constructively engage with the ruling parties or party.
If they are fighting themselves then they aren’t doing this, and government suffers.
This evening the largest Labour donor complained about the Eds in the Grauniad. Apart from the interesting
relationship with reality perspective on events shown by the union leaders it suggests Labour are a long way from being focussed on opposition.
That the two Eds realised that Labour lost the election due to it being unpopular and maybe making economic errors is welcome, even if they only partly acknowledge that in public, as they could then serve as an effective opposition. The reaction of the Labour left suggests this is still a way off.
If Ed M survives until the end of 2012 as Labour leader I’ll be amazed, but being honest I’m not totally sure they are leadable at the moment. If they elect a quasi-Blairite then the current reaction of the unions would seem tame, if they elect a union choice then the PLP will be in more or less open revolt. If a middle route is chosen then, well, ask Ed.