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James Hanson
Upper Sixth
Moberly's House

5-Step Guide for Ed Miliband to lead Labour back to power

5-Step Guide for Ed Miliband to lead Labour back to power

So, we were right, Miliband did win the Labour leadership after all! His face as he was paraded in front of the party faithful last week may have been glum, but despite the potentially bleak outlook for a discredited Labour Party, there are reasons to be optimistic for the new leader. Ed Miliband himself pledged during his campaign to return the party to power within five years — an ambitious claim that strikes perhaps of a little naivety. However, should he possess the one thing clearly lacking from Labour during its last term in office — a coherent plan for Britain’s future, his chances of being true to his word are fair. Such a plan must be understandable to the public, acceptable to the party faithful, and most importantly transferable to government within five years if necessary. So I put myself in Ed Miliband’s shoes and came up with a plan of my own:

  1. Adopt a credible plan for cutting the deficit
  2. Opinion polls show that the public have now fully accepted the need for cuts, however are hesitant about how quickly and in which areas the coalition is wielding the axe. During October’s spending review, the government will articulate the case strongly for pain now in order to gain later, and Labour must be careful not to be cast as deficit deniers. However, whilst accepting the need for some cuts, Ed Miliband must represent a credible alternative; with a slower scaling back of public spending over a longer period of time is his likely message. The key factor is that the public understands what Labour’s position is. He must chose a symbolic economic issue with which to oppose the coalition — and make sure public opinion is behind him, be that issue a strike or otherwise.

  3. Reconnect with Middle England
  4. I know, the phrase any Labour leader dreads to here — but it is true to say that this vaguely described middle-class battleground is the key to winning elections. Winning back the Tory heartlands Tony Blair so successfully converted in 1997 does not necessarily have to be achieved by conquering the centre ground, but Ed Miliband (of bourgeoisie stock himself) must represent aspiration. This means avoiding extortionate income tax rates, proposing reformed public services and offering incentives to small businesses (and yes, his living wage can be part of the deal too).

  5. Outflank the coalition
  6. By this I mean adopting policies that appeal to the margins of the coalitions partners’ respective parties. The traditional tough Conservative stance of law and order appears to be fading amidst the marital embrace with the Lib Dems, and this is an area in which Labour can pick up votes by becoming the party that is tough on crime. However, whether the highly socially liberal Ed Miliband will necessarily adopt such a stance is a different matter, and his approach to the matter will tell us a lot about whether he prizes ideological purity over the keys to No.10. Winning over Lib Dem voters should be easier however, and his approach to Europe, the economy and public services should be enough to recruit those disaffected with Nick Clegg’s leadership.

  7. Listen to the voters on key issues
  8. Labour did not lose the last election on the economy, it lost it for two reasons: one, the country’s desire for a change; two, its failure to accept the public’s legitimate concerns over issues such as immigration and housing. Ed Miliband must not be portrayed by the government as neglecting the needs of working class Brits by refusing to change Labour’s lacklustre immigration policy — whilst a credible solution to the UK’s chronic shortage of affordable housing is also a must.

  9. Restore the public’s trust in Labour
  10. As with the Tories in 1997, Labour has a huge task rebuilding its reputation with the electorate, who will not forget the Blair/Brown era quickly. The immediate decentralisation of power would be the best start for Ed Miliband to make in this direction, with a clear narrative on political reform, and a coherent position of the coalition’s electoral reform bill very much required. For more ideas about how Labour should regain the trust of the nation, read my earlier blog on the subject.

29 September 2010

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