Support 100 years of independent journalism.

  1. Politics
12 June 2011

More unsolicited advice for Ed Miliband

The Labour leader's style is under scrutiny.

By Jonathan Derbyshire

And so it goes on – the proffering of unsolicited advice to Ed Miliband. The papers are full of it this morning, as well more of the kind of outlandish speculation about high-level discontent in Labour at Miliband’s leadership I discussed yesterday.

The Sunday Times splashes with “Labour big beasts maul Ed Miliband” (£). Apparently, according to Isabel Oakeshott and Marie Woolf, “senior party figures say they were wrong to elect him and give him a year to prove himself”. Who are those “senior figures”? One of them is David Blunkett. But what he actually said doesn’t quite amount to a “mauling”: “We need to remember that Ed has only been opposition leader for eight months and it took David Cameron two years to establish himself in the public eye. However, the next year will prove vital in creating momentum and a sense of direction.”

I’m not sure Ed Miliband or his closest advisers would disagree with any of that. And I doubt, either, that they’ll be losing any sleep over the fact that Bill Kenwright (yes, that Bill Kenwright: theatrical impresario and chairman of Everton FC) thinks Miliband should “work on his leadership skills”.

Simon Walters in the Mail on Sunday tries to stoke the fires of fratricidal antagonism between the Miliband brothers in his report on Mehdi Hasan and James Macintyre’s biography of the Labour leader, which is serialised in that paper today. Walters says the book paints “a less-than-flattering portrait” of its subject. Knowing Mehdi and James as I do, I think I’ll reserve judgement until I’ve read the whole thing (it’s published a week tomorrow).

Sign up for The New Statesman’s newsletters Tick the boxes of the newsletters you would like to receive. Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. The best of the New Statesman, delivered to your inbox every weekday morning. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. A handy, three-minute glance at the week ahead in companies, markets, regulation and investment, landing in your inbox every Monday morning. Our weekly culture newsletter – from books and art to pop culture and memes – sent every Friday. A weekly round-up of some of the best articles featured in the most recent issue of the New Statesman, sent each Saturday. A weekly dig into the New Statesman’s archive of over 100 years of stellar and influential journalism, sent each Wednesday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.
I consent to New Statesman Media Group collecting my details provided via this form in accordance with the Privacy Policy

By far the most interesting and substantial discussion of Miliband’s leadership comes in the Observer, which has asked a number of left-of-centre intellectuals and policy experts to give their verdict on Ed. Paul Hackett, director of the Smith Institute, speaks for most of those of invited to pass judgement when asked for his view of Miliband’s leadership so far:

[It’s] still too early to judge. He’s struggling to project himself as a strong leader and has yet to connect effectively with the “squeezed middle”. However, he has made a clear break with New Labour and opened up space for a wide-ranging policy rethink.

Unfortunately, that sort of temperate, measured analysis is not the stuff of which front-page headlines are made.