Labour Leader Ed Miliband – Does he have what it takes?

 Does Ed Miliband have what it takes to be Prime Minister?



The views of the public depict conflict when addressing Ed Miliband as a leader, not only concerning his strength and influence within the Labour Party but whether he is indeed, too “weak” to act as Prime Minister. With those who are in favour of Miliband such as the likes of  political thinker Anthony Barnett who argues provocatively that “Ed Miliband is an exceptionally effective opposition leader, brave and an adroit party manager” and present PM David Cameron often highlighting his disproval of Miliband  and asserting his leadership as poor by stating “We know Labour’s approach, you go in with your hands up and a white flag” , the public are found torn between choosing Labour for their policies or abandoning the idea of Ed Miliband as Prime Minister out of uncertainty and scepticism.

Following the conclusion of the Miliband brothers’ pyscho-drama in the battle to become leader of the Labour party, the aftermath of Ed’s victory seemed strangely anticlimactic.

It didn’t seem to make sense; surely if Ed had managed to win the battle to become leader he had earned the respect of his colleagues and surely they must have thought that he was the person certain to win them the election in 2015? However, many Labour politicians seemed to barely tolerate Miliband and the party famous for its divisions has since become even more disparate. Some even say Miliband won the party election because of the support of trade unions; which is something he is currently desperately clinging onto. Moreover, the general public – the people who will ultimately decide whether Labour regains power – seem to have little faith in Ed. After three years of his leadership, a poll found that 52% of Labour voters are dissatisfied with his performance and his personal ratings have “sunk to levels” as bad as those of IDS and his predecessor as Tory leader, William Hague.

A common criticism is that of Miliband’s policies. His sympathy towards the ‘Squeezed Middle’ when he first became leader was met with confusion due to his failure to clearly define the concept and hostility when it was thought that he was abandoning traditional Labour heartlands. It resulted in the middle-class reaffirming their faith in the Tories, and the working-class becoming increasingly disillusioned with the Labour Party.

Squeezed middle: they believe deficit reduction measures are treating them unfairly

Image: The Squeezed Middle

However, three years on, Ed’s ideas have received a more positive response: his claims concerning ‘Crony Capitalism’ got the public thinking and, equally importantly, they got the Tories worrying. David Cameron was forced to respond with assurances that he was creating a climate of ‘Responsible Capitalism’ and it could be considered an indisputable achievement for Ed, but it did pose questions about Labour’s loyalties. ‘Crony Capitalism’ describes ‘an economy wherein success in business depends on close relationships between business people and government officials’ – Miliband expanded on it by attacking bank deregulation and big bonuses. The right labelled Milliband a ‘socialist’, however the approach resonated with some voters.

If the problem isn’t his policies, maybe it’s simply the fact people can’t see him as Prime Minister. In August, 63% of a poll of the general public said that they did not like him. Although ideas such as the Energy Freeze are popular, the fixation on his nervous grin and ‘crazy’ eyes – features that have earned over 8,000 Google results comparing him with the cartoon character Wallace – express a widespread anxiety about his ability and strength as a leader. Slip ups on camera, including the infamous ‘These Strikes Are Wrong’ speech yet refusal to elaborate when asked further questions portray an unconvincing leadership image.

Ever since he became party leader, Miliband has been battered with complaints that he’s too Right, too Left, too Old, too New; too downright strange. This is the problem.  The Living Wage tax break sounds like a step forwards – or at least a starting point for other solutions to the Cost of Living Crisis. The Energy Freeze is also an option for dealing with a problem that needs to be solved, and 63% of voters polled in September supported freezing gas and electricity prices for 20 months.

However, the recent YouGov poll shows Labour are ahead in Public opinion at 39%, therefore, perhaps we should stop focusing on family dramas and insults from the Daily Mail, and even his awkwardness when faced with a camera. Instead, we should concentrate on whether or not Ed Miliband, being an anti-politician Politician will make the best leader for Britain and give his upmost attention to how he can ensure his “pledges” and promises will work.

Maya Tikly-Young