Recently in Labour Category
The more I see Ed Miliband during Prime Ministers Questions, the more I begin to see parallels with William Hague when he was Tory leader as the Conservatives struggled to cope with life on the opposition benches.
Hague was, and still is, brilliant in the House of Commons. He could run rings around Tony Blair. But his impact outside of Parliament was minimal. He just didn't connect with the public.
While it can't yet be said that Miliband is brilliant - or anything close - during PMQs, he has found a way of irritating prime minister David Cameron. He's spotted a Cameron weakness and exploited it. Rather than going for a scatter gun approach with his questions, he drills into one issue and tries to find that nugget of information Cameron isn't sure of, and then tries to exploit it.
ED BALLS returned the political spotlight this weekend after an unusually long period in the shadows following his move to become shadow chancellor.
Labour has sorely missed his vocal presence in the last few months. Prior to taking over as shadow chancellor, Balls had been one of the few effective opponents to coalition policy.
A few unconnected thoughts about the local elections coming up this year:
1. Gillian Duffy: The sight of Gillian Duffy, the woman Gordon Brown muttered was bigoted after he was handbagged by her last year, trying to do the same to Nick Clegg said a lot about Labour. According to The Guardian, Duffy was tipped off to the fact Clegg was in Rochdale by local Labour MP Simon Danczuk. I have vague memories of Danczuk being a councillor in Darwen, a small town in Lancashire. I was never particularly impressed with him then, and his hand in this little set up just demonstrates that Labour's more interested in making Clegg look daft than it is in having an intelligent debate about the issues - and we're all the worse off as a result.
As it happens, Clegg handled her very well, in my opinion. Given she said she wouldn't bother voting in the elections last year, she doesn't really deserve the time or attention of any politician.
2. A local election like no other? Maybe. Maybe not. Whenever Labour took a kicking at the local elections, the new Labour lot limped a bit and then tended to carry on regardless. This year, if the Lib Dems take a kicking, what happens? That's when things could get tricky for the coalition - many backbenchers can see what could happen in 2015.
3. Ed's you lose: Ed Miliband is refusing to say how well he wants Labour to do, other than 'for us to make gains.' That has to be the most pathetic attempt as expectation management I've ever heard.
In many Northern areas, the Lib Dems are an alternative to Labour for voters, on the grounds they wouldn't vote Tory. The act of tying up with the Tories is a huge betrayal in that respect, so if Labour don't make massive gains this time out, there's something wrong. Unless...
4. We vote on the local issues Ed Miliband is very keen to suggest that people take to the ballotbox to say what they think about the cuts. But these are local elections - in theory, our vote doesn't change anything at Number 10.
Labour was always at pains when in power to point out elections were about local issues. Does voting Labour in Manchester make it more likely that it'll get a fairer deal on funding in the future? Of course not. And the same applies in Liverpool, Birmingham, Newcastle - anywhere.
By forgetting Labour's mantra that local elections are about local issues, Miliband is reinforcing his image as political chancer, which for someone whose entire adult life has been about working on political strategy, is quite remarkable.
5. Somebody do something about Vince At every opportunity, the Lib Dems defend their tough decisions by saying they are in power now, so they can't please everyone. They have to act differently, they say. In which case, can someone tell Vince Cable that? He's gone from Saintly expert to silly fool in the space of a year. If any other minister had contradicted the PM on immigration in the same way he did, they'd have been out. Is Cable happy to be hanging on to his job just because he's an olive branch to Lib Dem rebels? Cameron and Clegg wanted to be treated like a proper government - so their ministers should behave the same way as those in any other government
Of all the things said this week in the wake of the Alan Johnson resignation, it was a comment by Douglas Alexander which summed things up best.
Now shadow foreign secretary, Alexander was one of the architects of the Labour election campaign. I believe history should judge that the campaign wasn't a total failure. After all, Labour was in theory on its knees, yet David Cameron couldn't pull an overall majority out of the ballot box. Historians can decide whether that was more to do with a Tory failing or Labour being more in tune with supporters than the media would have had us believe at the time.
In politics, perception is just as important as the reality - just ask Nick Clegg. For all he tries to insist that the Lib Dems are influencing coalition policy, it's still clear to see many believe the party is doing little more than the dirty work the Tories would rather keep clear of.
I suspect those Labour Party activists so delighted by Ed Miliband's slender victory over brother David in Manchester yesterday may ultimately regret choosing the younger Miliband for that very reason - the perceptions of Ed are already becoming a huge barrier to attracting back the voters which deserted it at the ballot box this summer.
Already, Ed Miliband is being called Red Ed. That may be a very unfair nickname to give him, but it's one which will stick. And it's one which, on paper, is backed up by the fact it was votes from the trade unions which ensured he landed the top job.