Friday News Review

Poll boost for Labour

Ed Miliband ends his first week as Labour leader with his party ahead of the Tories in a Guardian/ICM poll for the first time since Gordon Brown ducked the chance of holding an election in 2007. But the two-point lead is the result of a slump in Conservative support rather than any surge in Labour backing and the poll suggests voters are giving Miliband a wary rather than an enthusiastic welcome. The results will offer him a morale boost at the end of a tumultuous week but they also suggest that many Labour supporters are yet to see their new leader as a potential prime minister, and that his brother David might have attracted more support in the short term. – The Guardian

There’s a new ICM poll in the Guardian which once again is showing a very different picture of public opinion from that which we see in the News International daily poll by YouGov. The shares are with changes on last month CON 35 (-2): LAB 37 (nc): LD 18 (nc). The Lib Dems will be relieved that the pollster that came top in the general election polling accuracy table should have them at levels which are markedly different from the daily polls. Yes support is down since the 23.6% at the general election but the fall-off in support has apparently been halted. – Political Betting

Positioning Ed

In eschewing ideological politics for the politics of values, it is not so much JFK that Miliband is invoking but Robert Kennedy: yes, the younger brother. And the red thread that runs through the values argument is not the Socialist argument of Ralph Miliband, the Jewish immigrant Marxist father of the brothers, but rather a strain of radical Catholicism that also ran through Robert Kennedy’s late political framework. For a politician who will need to confront both the hegemony and destructive immorality of the world political-economic order as well the furious, defeated neo-liberal wing of his own Party, this is a clever stance, and it might just win the day for Ed Miliband. – The Huffington Post

Ed Miliband’s analysis of where Labour went wrong, and how to put it right, is broadly correct. The right-wing press, and many Blairites, keep claiming he will “abandon the middle class”. This is the polar opposite of the truth. His politics are about understanding who Britain’s real middle class are, and what they need. The median wage in Britain last year was £20,800. If you take home more than £40,000 a year, you are in the richest 10 per cent. This, the real middle of British society, is stressed and close to panic. They can’t get bank loans for their small businesses. They are worried they’ll be made redundant, or their employer will go bust. They are working twice as hard just to stand still, so they hardly see their kids. They know when they grow up their children won’t get mortgages, and won’t get a university education without crippling debt. They are in debt themselves. They are incredibly vulnerable to the double-dip recession the Coalition’s policies are making more likely, and to the looming hammer-blow to public services they can’t afford to opt out of. The polls show the people they blame most for doing all this to them are the bankers and the super-rich. They’re right. – The Independent

Shadow cabinet shenanigans

ONE election is over, another one starts – the elections to the Shadow Cabinet. Incredibly, Labour’s new leader doesn’t get a free hand in choosing his top team. The internal rules of the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) mandate an election in which Labour MPs vote on who should be in the Shadow Cabinet. At a time when the party as a whole elects the Leader these are a ridiculous anachronism, but like many internal rules neither Tony Blair nor Gordon Brown got around to amending them. – The Scotsman

Having ditched Nick Brown – a close ally of Gordon Brown – as the chief whip, Mr Miliband will now attempt to assert his authority by appointing a powerful leadership team and beginning to spell out the new policy platform that will form the basis of the party’s assault on the Coalition Government. Next week he will also have to fashion a Shadow Cabinet that balances the competing political pressures within the Labour Party and presents a credible alternative to the Coalition. Mr Miliband will almost certainly do so in the knowledge that only a minority of his top team voted for him in the leadership election. Voting papers for the 19 seats at the Shadow Cabinet table go out to MPs today, with the result due to be declared next Thursday. They are not elected to specific positions. – The Independent

Labour backbencher Diane Abbott has made a bid for shadow cabinet as the voice of cities. London and the inner cities do not get “enough representation” claimed Abbott, who is the MP for Hackney North. Abbott was in the running for the Labour leadership, but lost out to Ed Miliband, who told her it was important her “voice is heard is the future” of the party. We’ve had shadow ministers for rural affairs, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, but is there really a need for a new minister of urban affairs? Rural issues have made big news stories: the foxhunting ban, flooding, GM crops. Do problems unique to cities justify an additional cabinet role? And don’t forget Boris Johnson, mayor of London, who’s got very different views from Diane on how to run the capital … – The Guardian

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