by Paul Goodman
I smelt fear in Ed Miliband's Shadow Cabinet appointments. The movement of the Balls/Cooper duo to non-economic posts, and the appointment of Alan Johnson as Shadow Chancellor, suggested anxiety – a dread of them grabbing Labour's steering wheel.
According to a Labour List monthly poll, Miliband would be right to be wary. Attention will probably focus on the fall in the percentage of those believing that he's doing an excellent or good job. Mark Ferguson writes –
"37% of those voting believe he's doing a good job, with 12% rating his performance so far as excellent. However 32% believe that his performance as leader has been only "fair", with 19% (up from only 12% in November) considering his performance "poor"."
51% believe that Miliband's perfomance is either "fair" or "poor". Those plumping for the more positive categories – "excellent" or "good" tot up to only 49%. 81% have no view of Ann McKechin.
The most popular member of the shadow cabinet, with a positive rating of 80%, is Andy Burnham. But Ed Balls and Yvette Cooper come in at 79% and 75% of respondents respectively. Ferguson also notes that –
"Alan Johnson's popularity has also taken a hit over the past month. Back in November Johnson was rated positively by 75% of readers and negatively by just 18%. This month Johnson is viewed negatively by 38% (with 55% positive) – making him the least popular shadow cabinet member with LabourList readers."
This decline was doubtless driven by his very public falling out with Unready Eddie over the 50p rate and a graduate tax. But Balls has also been in on the action, raising questions about a Miliband performance at Prime Minister's Questions.
The Shadow Home Secretary is a master of the dark arts, and knew exactly what he was doing. The poll should convey a message to Miliband: watch your back.