Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Coalition May Face the Labour Leader They Fear the Most; Columnist

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Coalition May Face the Labour Leader They Fear the Most; Columnist

Article excerpt

Byline: Paul LInford

AND so the new political year begins more or less exactly where the old one left off... with Labour leader Ed Miliband's long-term survival prospects once more being called into question.

The run-up to Christmas saw growing unease in Labour ranks over Mr Miliband's failure to make more headway against David Cameron's Coalition government, in what seemed like the beginnings of a whispering campaign.

Now that the season of goodwill is over, however, the muttering has broken out into the open, with Labour peer and former adviser Lord Glasman claiming that this week that the Labour leader has "no strategy and little energy".

And yesterday's warning by Shadow Defence Secretary and leading Blairite Jim Murphy that Labour must have "genuine credibility" on spending cuts is being seen as another shot across Mr Miliband's bows.

Lord Glasman's comments were significant not so much in themselves as for the fact that they played into what is fast developing into an over-arching narrative about Mr Miliband's leadership Perhaps his most telling point was on the economy, on which he said: "We have not won, and show no signs of winning, the economic argument... we have not articulated a constructive alternative capable of recognising our weaknesses in government and taking the argument to the coalition."

He added: "Old faces from the Brown era still dominate the shadow cabinet and they seem to be stuck in defending Labour's record in all the wrong ways."

That was a clear reference to Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls, whose presence in that post is viewed by some as an insuperable obstacle to Labour's attempts to regain economic credibility. The 'credibility' question was also clearly uppermost in Mr Murphy's mind as he spoke out the spending cuts issue yesterday.

Mr Murphy, who ran South Shields MP David Miliband's leadership campaign, was ostensibly talking about defence, but the wider message was clear - that Labour needs to stop opposing every government spending cut for the sake of it.

Mr Miliband's difficulties were compounded yesterday by a leaked memo from his press secretary Tom Baldwin claiming, somewhat absurdly, that he had led Labour to "probably the best recovery of any opposition party in history. …

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