Grant Shapps is MP for Welwyn Hatfield, and Chairman of the Conservative Party. He was Housing Minister from 2010 to 2012.
A test of any government is to ask the big questions. Who do you trust to build a stronger, more competitive economy? Who will stand up for Britain abroad? Who is unashamedly on the side of British business? Who has the strongest team? Who has the most credible plan to help families keep more of their own money, to boost home-ownership, and to do justice to pensioners in their old age? Who has the best approach for improving our state schools, so young people are not restrained by where they live, but instead can go as far as their talents and hard work will take them?
From time to time, I have warned about the risk of Ed Miliband’s Labour Party. Trade bodies like the Confederation of British Industry have warned too. But you don’t need to take it from the Conservative Cabinet, the CBI or even me. Listen to what Ed Miliband’s own team have to say.
Raphael Behr – Political Editor of the New Statesman – has written with growing alarm about the “impression that Labour’s message is shrinking”. He quotes a Shadow Labour Minister, who warns privately: “We [Labour] have nothing interesting to say about the things that really matter to people.”
Len McCluskey – the Unite boss who is holding Ed Miliband’s feet to the fire by withholding millions in donations – says Labour MPs are “uneasy that there isn’t a cohesive vision emerging” from Labour’s policy review.
Jon Cruddas – the Labour man charged with delivering that very policy review – has poured petrol on the bonfire, with calls for “a change of direction”. Fanning the flames, Ed Miliband’s own aides have briefed journalists that “people have not heard” very much about Labour’s current direction either.
Then there is Labour’s Deputy Chairman Jon Trickett. He has complained to Ed Miliband that Labour need to start talking in “strong, plain language”. On the same day, Labour National Executive Committee member Christine Shawcroft attacked the majority of Labour MPs because they “have no idea of how people live”.
This is just what Ed Miliband’s own team are saying.
Yes, there is always rough and tumble in politics. And yes, Labour may have a communication problem. But there is something much more serious going on. Ed Miliband has a reality problem, too. He does not have a long-term plan to secure Britain’s future, or to build a stronger, more competitive economy. The only thing that has changed is now even his own team are starting to wake up and smell the coffee.
This soap opera may be interesting to a few in the Westminster village. But it is the substance that matters to everyone in this country. We are almost four years into this parliament, and there is still no credible plan from Labour on how they would cut the record deficit they left behind, so that we can deal with our debts, safeguard our economy for the long-term, and keep British mortgage rates low. Worse still, Labour have opposed £83 billion of cuts in welfare – just to take one area of spending – since the last election.
Today, when you put Ed Miliband under the slightest pressure, he resorts to unfunded promises, giveaways and gimmicks: exactly what got Britain into the mess in the first place. It is increasingly obvious even to his own side that Labour cannot be the party to fight for Britain, because they have no plan for the future, and they are too busy fighting amongst themselves.
P.S. If you believe Britain’s best days are ahead, and you hate the idea of Ed Miliband getting the keys to 10 Downing Street, don’t sit on the sidelines. Do something about it. Join us today by signing up for Team2015.