‘Ed Miliband will today unveil a “summer offensive” to revive Labour’s stuttering attempts to win the next general election…Mr Miliband wants Labour’s summer campaign to “highlight the choice” at between Labour’s plans and “the threat of a Tory second term”.
That was in July, and the grand unveiling turned out to be Ed’s now-infamous tirade against photo opportunities.
What happened to the promised “summer offensive”, though?
We’ve had a press release about rail prices, sent out in response to the latest inflation figures. Then there was a Tristram Hunt complaint about class sizes, which rather blew up in his face when everyone reminded him who opened the door to Eastern European immigration. Oh, and Chuka Umunna told the Telegraph that Ed Balls was still a big beast.
Aside from that, it’s been less summer offensive than summer holiday. Most of the Opposition’s activity has been reactive: responding less than coherently to events in Gaza; responding intermittently to news coverage of charity reports; responding to Government responses to Commons committees.
It’s odd. For a start, this is the last summer recess before the General Election. Furthermore, last year Miliband was blasted by his own side for a “summer of silence”, a missed opportunity that he was supposedly keen to avoid repeating this year.
Suspicions are mounting that this failure is the curse of Ed’s obsession with his conference speech. Ever since he first made a splash at the Labour conference, his focus has been on repeating the trick – indeed, he would suffer from falling short of high expectations if he didn’t. It seems that it has become of such importance to the Labour leader that he and his team are holding off from doing much during the summer months.
It’s an error – a good conference speech is an important thing, but it’s still only one day compared to the weeks of summer campaigning time that they are leaving fallow. Plus, it should be possible for a would-be party of government to have an active summer and make an interesting speech come September.
Nor can they really argue that international events have disrupted their grid. There should still be room for some discussion of domestic policy, and if your weakness is that you don’t appear Prime Ministerial then you should probably try to beef up your commentary on matters like Foreign Policy. Instead, Miliband offers little more than silence.
The last few weeks have been difficult for the Government – from Baroness Warsi’s fairly acrimonious departure to the conflicts in Ukraine, Gaza and Iraq – but Ministers will be counting themselves lucky that Labour’s “summer offensive” has apparently stalled at the starting line.