Last week I wrote of the ‘image’ problem that Ed Miliband – and by extension Labour – has. I highlighted the fact that the latest polls suggest just 26% of the electorate think Miliband is doing his job well and a whopping 64% think he is doing it badly.
To put it bluntly, this is not the sort of image that a potential Prime Minister in waiting wants.
Interestingly then in today’s Times ($), Sam Coates writes:
‘Labour’s new American election strategist will give Ed Miliband a makeover to make him more appealing to voters, amid jitters among senior party figures over a dip in the party’s poll ratings.’
This ‘American election strategist’ is of course the six figured salary man, Mr David Axelrod who oversaw Obama’s two election victories.
The Times article goes onto state that the Miliband makeover will,
‘look at Mr Miliband’s performance in front of the cameras. Until recently this was not a feature of Labour’s election planning. ‘There is no strategy for Ed the person,’ one senior figure said recently, despite widespread criticism of his performances. The party has been aware for several months that this is an issue. It has conducted focus groups in which members of the public were shown clips of Mr Miliband on television. The participants reacted badly.’
Or as the Daily Mail so tactfully puts it:
‘Ed’s dismal ratings: Four years on, he’s still less popular than Brown’
That’s right, whilst in opposition to an incredibly unpopular government, Ed Miliband is still less popular than Gordon Brown was in the dying days of the New Labour disaster.
It is interesting to see that this is on the Labour radar but one wonders, what’s the solution other than a coup d’état of the Labour Party leadership?
Can Labour win a majority in 2015 with Ed has the helm?
I don’t think so.
4 responses to “The great Ed Miliband makeover”
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It frustrates me that we have this focus on personality politics. Recent surveys also show that most of the populous are to the left of Labour, yet no one seems to be considering that this might be the underlying cause. Maybe no amount of camera training can make up for the fact that his policies stink and he’s not tried to fight the Tories enough. We need to get away from image and into intention.
Some years ago when Ronald Reagan was elected President of the USA I joked with an American friend of mine about an actor being ‘put in charge’. This was all in good humour, but his pointing out that all political leaders are in effect salesmen and the ‘friendly face’ of what in reality is a hard-nosed political machine really hit home for me.
Sadly most of the electorate know little of politics and care even less. The deciding factor for them is their own self-interest and the leader of any political party will be judged by each voter on the basis of ‘what can he/she do for me?’
Like it or not Labour will be judged on how the public perceive Ed Miliband and his appearing to be a ‘nice guy’ is simply not enough. Ed desperately needs more passion and credible policies because telling the electorate that the weakest and most vulnerable in society are being made to pay for the mistakes of the rich and powerful both states the obvious and has a pitiful and whining element.
Bob Worcester’s “Iron Triangle” has as its first requirement that a party leader needs to be perceived as ‘strong and charismatic’, sadly Ed Miliband is perceived as neither.
Barack Obama already had an image that appealed to a large part of the American electorate and David Axelrod was able to project and reinforce this to gain voter’s support. Ed on the other hand whilst perceived as a ‘nice guy’, is also seen as an ex-Blair supporter who now apologises for being one, is too left-wing and under the thumb of the unions, and has no credible alternatives to the austerity programme put in place by the current coalition government.
I have no doubt that Labour will make gains in the next General Election (May 2015), however in my view these will be nothing like enough to win.
It is said that “opposition parties don’t win elections, governments lose them”, and Ed Miliband must be hoping that David Cameron and the Conservatives make some almighty blunder thus granting him the miracle he is praying for.