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.
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.
Pick of The Papers (11.11.13-17.11.13)
Woodhouse’ weekly pick of the papers is devoted to keeping A level politics students up to date with the political news and on track with the Unit 1 and Unit 2 syllabus.
Source: The Independent
Politics Topic: Unit 1 Elections, Parties and Democracy/ Unit 2 PM and Cabinet
Summary: In a new poll Labour are ahead of the Tories by six clear points, yet 53% of voters cannot imagine Labour Leader Miliband as Prime Minister. Trust in Ed Balls and Miliband is at its lowest despite pledge of 20 month freeze in energy bills. Although, the Conservatives have fallen by three points 27% of voters trust Cameron and Osbourne to “make the right decisions about the economy” and 44 per cent say they “expect the UK economy will improve next year”.
Source: The Guardian
Politics Topic: Party Policies and Ideas
Summary: Cameron has ordered an inquiry into the tactics of trade unions due to the consequence of an industrial dispute which almost led to the closure of the Grangemouth oil refinery in Scotland. However, a Unite spokesman said: “This review is a sorry attempt by the coalition to divert attention from the cost of living crisis. Vince Cable may not have noticed but the Grangemouth dispute has been settled. This review is nothing more than a Tory election stunt which no trade unionist will collaborate with.” There is no question that Cameron has mentioned the issue with Labours’s position towards the Falkirk investigations – check the link below for further information.
ALevelPolitics Help: The Falkirk situation explained
Source: The Times
Politics Topic: Party Policies and Ideas
Summary: Clegg is calling out his coalition partners to give some money back to ‘the UK Economy’. The Deputy Prime Minister said that he was pressing his Conservative colleagues to agree to a £1 billion tax giveaway before the next general election and called for a further increase in the threshold for tax-free earnings, a move that would allow most workers to keep an extra £100 a year. He said he believed that a further increase in the personal allowance could be funded by a levy – such as a “mansion tax” on the very wealthiest however, the Conservatives are very much opposed to the idea.
Source: The Telegraph
Politics Topic: Parties Policies and Ideas
Summary: The former Mayor of London criticises Labour for spending billions to avoid tax and spending cuts in the boom years and the article speaks of the repercussions of the £157 billion deficit, the Brown government left politicians to clear up. Conservative party Chairman Grant Shapps questions Miliband and Labour’s “addiction to borrowing”.
Source: The Telegraph
Politics Topic: Party Policies and Ideas
Summary: David Cameron is hated in the North of England but his policies are agreed on there. Farage is going to reap the rewards. 72 per cent of Northerners think that the Conservatives do not understand their area well; 64 per cent think people from their part of the country are not well represented amongst the Tory leadership; 39 per cent say they would never vote Conservative. A quarter say they don’t know a single person who votes Tory whereas 50 per cent more Northerners think Ukip understands the North than think that the Conservatives do. Will the Northerners vote UKIP?
ALevelPolitics Help: Check out the UKIP article
Source: The Independent
Politics Topic: Democracy and Participation/Elections
Summary: Watchdog findings pose worrying questions about future of democracy in Britain. Young adults are even more “disengaged” from the party system, with 46 per cent of under-30s saying “none of the above” when presented with a list of the parties. Plenty of statistics and quotes to use for Unit 1 democracy and elections.
ALevelPolitics Help: Click for information on Apathy, Disengagement and General Election turnouts (Russell Brand Vs Jeremy Paxman)
Setting aside Russell Brand’s notorious eccentric persona, his interview with Jeremy Paxman that aired 23rd October on Newsnight, highlighted his perspective that the UK’s current democratic system ‘favours the elite’. Brand has indeed never voted nor is showing any signs of wanting to participate in the future. He firmly believes that “Government is not working” and there is great and evident need for change in how the UK’s “democracy” works.
“It is not that I am not voting out of apathy. I am not voting out of absolute indifference and weariness and exhaustion from the lies, treachery and deceit of the political class that has been going on for generations”
Despite his radical approach to the interview, he was able to articulate his strongly felt discontentment with the current system. Presenting elitism, not only by politicians, but suggesting that it is occurring within the Houses of Parliament itself. Brand says that it is “decorated for a certain type of people” that excludes part of the population and causes their disillusion. However farfetched this specific reason may be for a declining political participation, it is true that there is a current problem with the perception of politics. Brand’s view does not go unsupported as shown through the 2013 Audit of Political Engagement 10 which presents public satisfaction of the way MP’s are doing their job at a low of just 23% compared to the 29% in 2010.
In the 2010 General Election only 57% of voters in the bottom social class voted. Perhaps, Brand is proposing that the solution is a revolution to re-evaluate the system and that the reason for the low turn out runs far deeper into constituencies who feel the huge disparity between the rich and poor and encounter deficit when the money-making businesses find profit. Cameron, of course believes “profit is not a dirty word”. Is education of the poorer class the key to creating a higher possible turnout? Or is this low percentage a representation of their refusal to conform to a process that which they feel under-represented by? The comedian believes political apathy, the concept of indifference on the part of any citizen of any country with regards to their attitude towards political activities is a significant step forward for change.
Russell Brand has opened discussion on why changes should be made to the system yet there are many a question still unanswered. If there was no Government, who would obtain legitimate power? The ”Admin bods”? Paxman queries Brand on how they would be chosen but saves Brand from the complexity by simply stating; “By being voted in”.
Brand’s overriding message for the public is to ”be more apathetic” but whether this is the solution or not, it is a clear amplification that there is the problem of how the public is becoming disenfranchised, disenchanted, disengaged and disinterested in the idea that politicians can change the world.
Therefore, with this apparent “Revolution” on the rise, should the Government be introducing the compulsory vote for the young? Will it enforce the idea of democracy by avoiding apathy or will it take away choice, which lies at the heart of a democratic process. For if this refusal to participate in general elections lingers for too long without the problem being addressed by those in power, potentionally this form of protest could destroy the existing recognition of democracy that which was fought for by many historic figures (Emily Wilding Davison, Henry VI).
Is this democratic process worth fighting against rather than changing through participation of the current system, or is there some truth in what Brand is implying – that a new governing body or party’s changes are not radical enough to meet the requirements of the underserved and henceforth people will not want to engage with a system that they believe is not in their best interest and simply is not representative of the total population.
“Jeremy, my darling” – does Mr Brand have a point?
The ‘Quad’. How amusing, could I be talking about the Beatles, Queen, JLS? Well, near enough, the Quad is a high-level government meeting that comprises of Mr Cameron, Nick Clegg, George Osborne and Danny Alexander and is one of the coalition’s key decisions making bodies. Typically the Quad meet to ‘iron out’ matters that may be contentious between the Lib Dems and Tories prior to formal cabinet meetings. Whilst Cameron has tried to set about changing the style of his premiership from Blair’s ‘sofa government’ and has been praised by officials for his ‘return to formality and commitment to process’. Can the Quad be seen as a considerable step backwards?