Daily catch-up: Labour’s leadership problem, and more about Labour’s leadership problem

Mostly about the problem of Labour’s leadership

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The Independent Online

1. If Alan Johnson were to lift a finger, Ed Miliband would be gone by the middle of next week.

And AJ could well be prime minister in six months' time.

But he has let me down, he's let the country down and he's let himself down by persistently ruling himself out of a rescue mission and going on about how his working-class upbringing deprived him of the confidence of the Daves and Borises of this world. No doubt he is being begged to reconsider, again, but I fear his answer is still No.

Yesterday the New Statesman, which backed Ed, deserted him. Last night on Newsnight, Jenni Russell, the Guardianista columnist for The Times who backed Ed, re-disowned him.

So Yvette Cooper and Andy Burnham have been forced to deny that they have consulted each other about the contingency of Miliband's departure. Febrile, but nothing is yet happening.

2. There is no question, however, that Miliband made things worse yesterday when he decided he had to say something on television, prepared his line ("We remain focused on this country and how we can make this country work again") and, when pressed on the leadership question, said this:

"I don't accept that this matter arises."

The rules of the Labour Party don't allow for a challenge to Miliband, now that the annual conference has been held, so the only mechanism would be a huge revolt of Labour MPs with an alternative candidate lined up. Which might go wrong and simply make things worse.

3. A straw for Miliband to clutch in this morning's Survation poll for the Daily Mirror.

Lab 31%, Con 27½%, UKIP 24%, LD 9%, Green 3%

But YouGov for The Sun is unchanged:

Lab 33%, Con 32%, UKIP 15%, LD 8%, Green 5%

And Populus is not very different:

Lab 35%, Con 33%, UKIP 14%, LD 9%, Green 4%

The average of the three (which takes the edge off the high UKIP figure obtained by Survation, which reminds respondents of the party name in its voting question):

Lab 33%, Con 31%, UKIP 18%, LD 9%, Green 4%

But the message is sinking in to Labour MPs and journalists that an average two-point lead six months away from a general election is no good at all.

4. "How did this 50p tax rate-supporting, anti-Iraq war, pro-green politician end up with a problem on his left?" Good question asked by James Forsyth.

5. Quotation of the Day: "I’ve been black all my life; you don’t have to tell me how to be black." Condoleezza Rice.



6. And finally, thanks to Nonbinary Agenda for this useful advice:

"Instead of 'boyfriend' or 'girlfriend', use gender neutral terms like:

- Rival

- Archnemesis

- Vampire Lord

- USS Enterprise

- Mist Creature."