The NS blogger Dan Hodges has referred to it as Ed Miliband’s “Bloody Sunday” — Sunday 12 June. It was the day that the Independent on Sunday, the Observer, the Sunday Times and the Mail on Sunday — which ran extracts from my new biography of the Labour leader — all contained stories about plots, coups and threats to Miliband’s leadership, specifically from his elder brother, David.
In my feature in tomorrow’s New Statesman, I point out that the real damage to Ed Miliband may have been done by his frontbench colleagues, who were nowhere to be seen that Sunday.
From my piece:
The fallout from the book’s revelations and the Guardian splash were handled badly by Team Ed. Why was it left to Charles Falconer, the former lord chancellor and close ally of David — who, admittedly, has since become an informal adviser to the younger Miliband — to come out in defence of the Labour leader on the BBC?
“The responsibility lies with the shadow cabinet,” says a former Labour cabinet minister. “When they were the victim of ‘plot’ and ‘coup’ rumours, Tony and Gordon would always use the trick of sending four or five cabinet heavyweights on to the airwaves to shut the story down. If I were Ed, my eyes would be swivelling to Douglas Alexander, Yvette Cooper and Caroline Flint. Why haven’t they come out to defend him?”
Good question. Where is the shadow cabinet?
On a side but self-promoting note, you can pre-order my new book Ed: the Milibands and the Making of a Labour Leader, co-authored with James Macintyre, here.
It has been pointed out to me that the shadow health secretary, John Healey, appeared on Sky News’s Murnaghan show and BBC1’s Politics Show last Sunday. He also penned pieces in the Independent on Sunday and the News of the World — though these were on his health brief and not on his leader. He was, therefore, out and about. Nonetheless, I think the wider point still stands. There has been a clear sense that Miliband is on his own, fending for himself at the top of the Labour Party. If he is to succeed over the lifetime of this parliament, then that has to change. A shadow cabinet has to be more than a cabinet of shadows. The leader of a party needs the loud and constant support of his party.