By Tim Montgomerie
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Ed Miliband might be much easier prey for the Tory machine than Gordon Brown
ConservativeHome has long pointed to the steep mountain
that has to be climbed in order for Tories to win the next election.
One of our concerns has been that Conservatives couldn't even win a
majority under a disunited, discredited Labour Party under Gordon Brown.
But – for the second time
– it's worth wondering if Labour under Ed Miliband might be an easier
opponent than Labour under Gordon Brown. Here are a few reasons why it
- Ed Miliband's ratings are – in some respects – even worse than
Brown's. Whatever voters thought of Brown (and it wasn't much) he was a
considerable and experienced figure. Miliband is struggling to compete
with Brown in the up-to-being-PM stakes. His ratings have hardly
improved since he was first elected. A recent YouGov/Times poll found
Miliband "less in touch, less caring about ordinary people, less
trustworthy, considerably less decisive, weaker, less competent and much
less clear about what he stands for" than Brown.
- The second most important post is Chancellor/Shadow Chancellor. On
these measures Ed Miliband's pick for the job – Mr Ed Balls – trails George Osborne and also looks less
credible than Alistair Darling. At the last election the Labour Party
had a Treasury spokesman who was seen as a moderating influence on its
leader. Today's Treasury spokesman is someone who voters want to be
- Welfare was not a dominant issue at the last election. It will be at
the next one. Tory positions are overwhelmingly more popular with
voters than Labour's. Even Labour's heartland vote agrees with Cameron,
Osborne and Duncan Smith on issues like the benefit cap, benefits
uprating and limiting access to benefits according to family size (a policy likely to be in the Tory manifesto if it doesn't frighten the Liberal Democrats).
- Ed Miliband has a muddled position on Europe. He has to understand
that in opposing a referendum on Europe he's not just alienating
Eurosceptics (he didn't have the support of many of them anyway) but
he's looking like a politician who doesn't trust the people. For a
politician who already seems a bit detached from the concerns of
ordinary voters that's very dangerous.
- Labour is getting into a real pickle with candidate selection. There
are increasing concerns that the Unite union is stuffing the
parliamentary Labour Party with people who will defend the pay, perks
and privileges of unionised public sector members. Given Ed Miliband
only beat his brother to the Labour leadership because of union votes
and because of Labour's dependency on union money this whole union link could
become a big issue; reminding voters of the pre-Blair Labour Party.
There's five reasons. I'm sure you can come up with one or two more.