Monday, 27 September 2010

So it's Ed and not David Milliband that wins Labour leadership race

I was surprised to see Ed Milliband defeat his brother David for the leadership of the Labour Party. Although I thought It would be close, I still expected David to win.

I actually had the chance to vote in this leadership race myself. As a very inactive member of the GMB union I was eligible to vote, but I only found this out when I received a text message telling me this.

In the end I didn’t manage to get a ballot paper in time, but I think I would have voted for Ed. In saying this, even if he hadn't won I wouldn't have been unhappy with David becoming leader.

Because Ed’s victory was achieved with the votes of the trade unions he’s now predictably being referred to as ‘Red Ed’ by sections of the Press, a label which is unfair and one I’m already tired of hearing.

Ed Milliband may have the backing of the unions but I don’t believe he’s that Left wing. If there’s one thing I don’t like about politics, it's the constant scaremongering tactics used by all parties.

If you believe the views of some commentators, Ed’s victory is going to be a return to the dark days of union militancy from the 1970s.

Britain’s a completely different country now. The unions don’t have the power and influence that they had in those days, and they never will again - this is why I’m not falling for this rhetoric.

From a pragmatic point of view, I except that David winning would have given Labour a better chance of winning the next election, but it’s too early to say that by electing Ed, they’ve consigned themselves to certain election defeat.

Clearly if he takes the party to the Left, this would be electoral suicide but I think one of the reasons why he won, is that there are Labour supporters who wish to move on from ‘New Labour’

New Labour may have turned the party into winners, but it also managed to lose thousands of members over the last few years.

There’s certainly a feeling that by appealing more to floating voters in key marginal seats, the party ended up neglecting much of its traditional working class support. It seems Ed wants to make an effort to reconnect with this group.

I think Ed has the chance of evolving Labour on bit more, and away from all the New Labour baggage, more so than his brother.

Whether Ed is a success or failure will depend largely on his relationship with the Unions and Labour’s response to the governments spending cuts, and reducing the budget deficit.

If the unions start taking an unrealistic stance against spending cuts and Ed doesn’t distance himself enough from them, it’s going to be difficult for him to win enough support around the country.

He’s also got to ensure that Labour offer a credible policy on how to cut the budget deficit – with or without the support of the unions.

I have to say this weekend’s result feels like the end of the beginning of a new political era in Britain.

There’s a big unknown quality about Ed Milliband. It explains why I think it’s wrong for so many people from across the political spectrum to be making such concrete predictions and assertions on the future of the Labour Party and the type of leader Ed will be.

There are too many what ifs in British politics at the moment which makes the task of predicting anything increasingly difficult.

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