By Tim Montgomerie
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A Cabinet minister told me last night that the Coalition has had its best week since coming to power. We've dumped two policies that could have caused us enormous problems, he said. We suffered 48 hours of bad publicity but we're now closer to the public on the NHS and crime. We can now focus on the core tasks of the economy, welfare, schools and immigration. At the same time, he continued, Labour are in meltdown. Labour's Number 2, Ed Balls has been proven as a liar. It's now obvious the Shadow Chancellor was plotting against Blair. The people around David Miliband – if not the former Foreign Secretary himself – are becoming more brazen in their attempts to undermine Ed. Yesterday's leak of the defeated brother's draft victory speech was timed to cause maximum damage. And, today, we have a book from two Labour-supporting journalists exposing the continuing tension between the two Milibands and also between the two Eds. Ed Miliband’s ‘dislike for macho Ed Balls was an open secret’ says the Mail on Sunday.
Plots… Dishonesty… Political fratricide… Paranoia… Fraser Nelson sums it all up in his News of the World column (£):
"Labour doesn't need a strategist. It need a psychiatrist."
Voters are looking at the Labour leader and are not liking what they see. The Sunday Times publishes the results of a new YouGov survey:
- Only 30% think Ed Miliband is doing well. 53% think he's doing badly.
- 21% understand what Ed Miliband stands for. 70% do not.
- 41% think David Miliband would make a better leader than Ed Miliband. Just 6% disagree.
Politically this is all wonderful for the Conservatives. One of our principal rivals has a leader in freefall. Our other rival, the Lib Dems have fallen to single digits in opinion polls. But it's probably not great for the government of this country. Most people close to David Cameron say he works best under pressure. In cruise mode he doesn't push advisers to produce better speeches and better policies. George Osborne is the same. So while we are enjoying our political good fortune we should worry about how to push the Coalition to adddress its policy weaknesses, eg on economic growth, energy policies and Europe.