Andrew Grice: For a man who won the leadership, he seems remarkably short of friends

Even some of the trade union allies who ensured his narrow victory over his brother are becoming restless

Share
Related Topics

It was an avalanche waiting to happen. Yesterday Ed Miliband woke up to a mountain of newspaper headlines that could have been from his worst nightmare. "Brothers at war," said The Independent on Sunday, suggesting that David was waiting for his brother to fail so he could revive his leadership bid. "War of the Milibands," declared the The Mail on Sunday, which is serialising a new book on the Labour leader. "Labour big beasts maul Ed Miliband," reported The Sunday Times.

Hard evidence of plotting against a leader who has only been in post for eight months was difficult to find. But the headlines accurately reflected the growing frustration in the Labour Party about the apparent lack of direction and progress under its new standard-bearer.

For a man who won the leadership contest, Ed Miliband appears remarkably without friends. Even some of the trade union allies who ensured his narrow victory over his brother are becoming restless. The Shadow Cabinet may profess loyalty but sometimes looks like a group of politicians ploughing their own furrow rather than playing as a team.

Labour MPs have grumbling since the turn of the year but recent events have propelled it on to the front pages. Last week, the ghosts of New Labour returned to haunt Ed Miliband. In the paperback version of his memoirs, Tony Blair urged him not to allow the party to drift to the left. Then leaked private papers belonging to Ed Balls, the shadow Chancellor, revealed details of Gordon Brown's campaign to prise Mr Blair out of Downing Street. A badly-timed weak performance by Ed Miliband at Prime Minister's Questions fuelled the backbench muttering. Then a version of the speech David Miliband would have made if he had won the leadership was mischievously leaked on the eve of yesterday's serialisation of the book charting how the brothers' relationship is still under great strain.

Ironically, inside Ed Miliband's inner circle, the mood has become more positive recently. His aides were more gloomy at the start of the year after he made little progress in his first 100 days. They are much more upbeat now because they have a detailed blueprint to win in 2015. The only trouble is that, in a 24/7 media age in which politics is conducted at a frenetic pace, Team Ed has been slow to share the plan with the rest of us. It may now have to do so from a position of weakness.

Ed Miliband is unrepentant. Before planting policy signposts, as he will start to do in a speech today, he believed the party first needed to show humility about its disastrous 29 per cent share of the vote in last year's general election and listen to voters to learn how it became out of touch on issues such as the economy, welfare and immigration. Labour would not be credible, he judged, if it claimed it knew all the answers so soon after such a crushing defeat.

Mr Miliband knew the avalanche was coming. Some aides thought it would be much worse. They detect a silver lining: at least voters are watching as the policy offensive starts.

The danger is that the negative speculation of recent days, whipped up by a largely hostile press, will become the self-fulfilling story of Ed Miliband's leadership, overshadowing what his critics demand – a forward-looking vision and some policy benchmarks.

Despite yesterday's headlines, the chances are that Ed Miliband will lead Labour into the next election. Unlike the Tories and Liberal Democrats, Labour doesn't assassinate its leaders.

"The fear is that he will just do well enough to survive without doing badly enough for us to get rid of him," said one normally loyal shadow cabinet minister. With friends like that, you can imagine what Ed Miliband's enemies are saying.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Home Care / Support Workers

£7 - £10 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This care provider is looking for Home ...

Recruitment Genius: Web Team Leader

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the UK's leading web des...

Recruitment Genius: Client Manager

£27000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A growing, successful, friendly...

Recruitment Genius: Property Negotiator - OTE £20,000+

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This family owned, independent ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Separate lives: Boston’s streets illustrate the divide between the town’s communities  

Migrants have far more to offer than hard work and wealth creation, yet too many exist in isolation from the rest of society

Emily Dugan
Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird has sold 40 million copies  

Go Set a Watchman: Harper Lee’s new novel is more than just a literary event

Joseph Charlton
The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'