After the 2010 General Election, the Labour party was obviously in total chaos. Doubled with not being able to form the Coalition, let alone a government, the entire pain blame was laid on Gordon Brown. And having a sacrificial lamb [always] helped in those crucial days.
Then the leadership tussle. Aside from Diane Abbott, the rest 4 main contenders struggled to distant themselves from the just ended Labour 13 years in power. And that struggle became their main card; their only worthwhile debate and worse still, the devil in the shadow. Ed Miliband sailed through; weakly but he got the steering wheel.
Sitting in the conference hall that day, I knew that he wasnt the strongest to steer that ship away from that 'devil in the shadow, but he has the task and we were all going to help. Foul!
Ed Miliband leadership was doomed to be weak once he set out running on a blank canvass. No policies or clear details on how his team would or hope to solve any one particular issue. Their defence? Its too early to come up with detailed policy. Are you kidding me? Instead, he prefers or agrees to using a tirade of name-callings and ramblings. And nothing has come out of any of them as clearly wouldnt. Lets take a glance;
1. The Squeezed Middle: this was Ed Miliband's first rhetoric. Until the phrase died a natural death, no one ever said a comprehensive definition of it; not even the Leader who invented it. His explanation about the term differed on each explanation. No wonder it disappeared unceremoniously. And worse still, with no legacy left behind. It got squeezed to death.
2. Hardworking families: this was a rather tongue-in-cheek term. Although not invented by the Labour Leader, he hijacked and ran with it but never to the finish line. Now, the phrase is so saturated among politicians in the UK, no particular party can patent it; or give it meaning. Its a floater used without guard because no one will ever question or take it serious anyway. We are all hardworking families! And if any politicians can boldly dispute that, let them come forward.
3. Responsible Capitalism: whatever happened to this one. One minute it was there, the next, it sound like it was never said. The problem with it was that you cannot eat your cake and have it. Ed is bathed in capitalism and dwells in it. So how can he differentiate which capitalism is responsible and which is not? Or how can he make us all agree that his chosen aspects of capitalism is less poisonous than th other aspects? Especially without an instruction manual. Its like religion; they are all the same even though they are all invented on the idea that the others arent any good or good enough. Fools paradise.
4. One Nation: Hurray! I remember watching the conference speech that launched this and thinking, 'mmm... this sounds good. But looks a teeny much like "we're all in it together".' But One Nation hasnt made a mark. I am not quite sure if it's still there although I "suspect" it is meant to be a branding... clearly, it is failing if that is so. I see it written on banners these days at some Labour events but no one bothers to reference it. One Nation is there but almost not.
5. Bedroom Tax: There's nothing wrong in devising a name to attack the govt's unwelcomed policy. What is wrong with this slang however, is that fact that, like those before it, it lacked a backing policy with a solution on how to do it differently. So while a lot of people can agree and even swallow the hook, of the name, it only chokes because it is wholly indigestible. It is a bad emergency remedy; not a poison, not a medicine. Terrible!
6. Cost of Living: This is the current slang of the Labour Leader. It is endearing but it is actually not convincing; again because it is a phrase and that's it. But where is the backing solution? How would he do it? Its almost like mystery. A sort of magic that need no action. Scary!
So in just over 3 years, Ed Miliband has invented 6 slangs or more but none has yielded a single solution or get traction. Worrying.
All the above shows the core problem of Labour. It can straddle the path but prefer to be dragged along it. Although it has always tried to dictate it, yet, its fear of being loosed of the leash is hindering it from riding high
Yet its not too late. But the chance is almost ending. If Labour does not come up with an actual, concrete and workable solutions in the next few months, it may be too late and difficult to sell whatever it comes up with in the last 12 months to the general election to voters and get them to digest it quick enough to understand. So it will need a VERY pragmatic campaign adviser to sell such and force it down the throat of voters who are by now more on the 'not-quite-unsure-if-Labour-can-be-trusted...' a very familiar line that the Tory is going to harp on.