Saturday, 28 March 2015

Ed's Battle for Number 10

Simon Danczuk has had a meteoric rise over the course of the last parliament in becoming Labour’s favourite Marmite son.
Never shy of the limelight his regular interventions are often timely and important. Look no further than the work he has done highlighting historic cases of child abuse in his constituency and on a wider level.
But, like all politicans, Mr Danczuk has a down side which is jaw droppingly apparent. His timing, shall we say, can be a little bit ‘off’.
There is no doubt at all that last week’s New Statesman article was damaging to Labour. At no time, but especially so close to an election, should a Labour MP be allowed to be quoted that their party leader is a ‘f***ing knob’.
Doing so immediately before the parliamentary terms final PMQ’s and then actually asking a question was simply a gift from above for Mr Cameron.
If you are an MP there is a time and place to go public on negative views of your leader. A week before the dissolution of parliament isn’t it.
But, and there is a big but coming, Mr Danczuk made an important point.
I will guarantee that anyone who has been out knocking doors in the past few months will have been told at least a few times ‘I’ve always voted Labour but I can’t vote for Ed’.
A significant minority of voters have arrived at a view, completely wrongly in my opinion and with no small help from the right wing media, that Ed is simply not Prime Ministerial material.
There is a strong argument that Labour has kept a fairly consistent lead in the polls for the past two years not because of Ed Miliband but despite him.
What Labour and Ed have needed for the past 18 months is a way of convincing the electorate that he is capable of being a strong leader. To be fair opportunities have been few but last night’s Battle for Number 10 ‘debate’ went a huge way to redress that balance.
Ed wasn’t on fire. Whilst some of his answers (the last Labour governments record on deregulation of banks) hit the spot for a 2015 audience others were weaker (highlighting the Dome as a major misstep is probably 10 years out of date).
Others still were undoubtedly a bit cringe worthy (‘Hell Yes’ was perhaps a little too rehearsed to be authentic and almost certainly won’t go down as his finest oratory).
The important point however is Ed didn’t have to beat David Cameron, although on balance he probably did on points, he had to show to the British public he was credible.
There is no doubt he absolutely did that and in doing so will give Labour a real boost.
With the polls so tight we desperately need those voters who previously identified themselves as ‘Labour Yes, Ed No’ to take another look at us.
Last night Ed gave us the ammunition to make that case strongly on the doorstep. I know I’m going to be a lot more hopeful out on the doorstep this weekend.

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