By Matthew Barrett
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A week on from Ed Miliband's sixth re-launch, it would be timely to review his progress. Has he managed to persuade the public of his credibility at last? Has he managed to thrash the Coalition in the polls? Is his Party settled and united behind his leadership? It seems not.
- Ed Balls' big policy speech hinted at Labour wishing to earn economic credibility: "In a speech to the Fabian Society on Saturday, Balls said he accepted every spending cut being imposed by the coalition and endorsed George Osborne's public sector pay freeze, adding that it might need to continue beyond the end of the current parliament."
- Ed Miliband then supported this stance: "Ed Miliband has backed his shadow chancellor, Ed Balls, saying he cannot promise to reverse any spending cut at this stage, and dismissed criticism of his own leadership as "part of the gig"."
- …But at the same time, Miliband said Labour opposes the cuts the Coalition is making: "If Labour was in power now we wouldn't be making those changes. We wouldn't be cutting as far and as fast as the government."
- Perhaps this best explains what Miliband's position seems to be: "Labour's newly calibrated position is that it opposes some spending cuts, on the basis they slow recovery, but cannot promise to reinstate any of them ahead of an election."
This led to consternation amongst trade unionists:
- Unite General Secretary Len McCluskey accused Miliband of, in the Guardian's words: "undermining his own leadership, disenfranchising the party's core support and leaving the country with all three main parties bent on using austerity to save capitalism."
- This led to general unrest in the rest of the union movement: "The Labour leader is facing a growing trade union rebellion after the GMB and Public Commercial Services unions, key players in the 30 November national strike, joined the condemnation of the party's support for a public sector pay squeeze. The GMB general secretary, Paul Kenny, warned that backing a 1% pay cap could have a "profound impact" on the union's relationship with Labour."
- Ed Miliband hit back ""Len McCluskey is entitled to his views but he is wrong," said Miliband. "I am changing the Labour party so we can deliver fairness even when there is less money around and that requires tough decisions.""
- The Guardian's Industrial Editor wrote: "There is a sense that Miliband is abandoning, or being shunted off, the political stance on which he campaigned for the Labour leadership… Ed Balls speech at the weekend was viewed as something of much greater magnitude: an about-turn, evidence of a Blairite resurgence."
Polling wasn't great for the Labour leader, either:
- 10th Jan CON 40%, LAB 40%, LD 10% – Equal
- 11th Jan CON 40%, LAB 38%, LD 10% – Tory lead 2%
- 12th Jan CON 41%, LAB 40%, LD 8% – Tory lead 1%
- 13-15th Jan CON 38%, LAB 40%, LD 9% - Labour lead 2%
- 16th Jan CON 40%, LAB 40%, LD 9% - Equal
- 17th Jan CON 39%, LAB 40%, LD 8% - Labour lead 1%
All things considered, Ed Miliband's latest re-launch hasn't progressed as smoothly as he probably wished.