Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Will Ed Miliband make a difference?

Ed Miliband's speech today suggesting that Labour can't rely on splashing the cash if in government again picked up from recent articles and posts by the likes of Peter Watt and Gavin Kelly. The latter two were as criticising Miliband, despite his likely agreement with them.

Ed Balls and Miliband have been trying to get across the argument that growth should be used to cut the deficit. Today was the first time I've seen Miliband explain this in simple language, that you need people working and paying taxes to pay off the deficit, not claiming benefits. This is promising though the problem with Miliband's leadership has rarely been about what he has said, which is getting better all the time, more about two things:

  1. Perception
  2. Clear alternative
Miliband's perception problem hasn't gone away. His personal poll ratings are very bad at the moment though he is getting much more media coverage. Having a clear alternative set of policies to the government isn't easy but will become very necessary. There were a smattering of new proposals today though nothing fundamental. His theme of the "squeezed middle" has stuck with both Tories and Lib Dems trying to steal parts of his rhetoric. He proposes to promote changed business practice, like an end to quarterly reporting, to develop a long term investment based capitalism. 

Aside from his personal perception problems, Miliband faces difficulty in persuading voters that he understands the severity of the government deficit and knows how to get rid of it without unnecessarily and adversely affecting their way of life. He hasn't done that yet, people are just not believing Labour at the moment. 

Balls and Miliband have to convince people other than me that they should be taken seriously on the deficit and the economy. It hasn't worked so far, today's speech won't change it overnight either. At the moment it is all too esay to attack them for being involved in the last Labour government and to stop listening. There is some great stuff in the detail but most people don't bother with that. Not least when a hostile media doesn't tell them.  

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