Unless you have purposefully dodged all forms of media, then you will know by now that Ed Miliband is the new leader of the Labour party. Ed scrapped to victory by a minuscule 1% margin over his brother David, following heavy support from trade unions.
Despite being a huge personal victory for Ed, the result may prove to be detrimental to the Labour party. I believe David would have proved a more capable and suitable leader.
David has more experience than his younger brother, not only in terms of absolute time in government, but also Foreign Secretary is a far more heavyweight role than Secretary for Energy and Climate Change. Foreign Secretary is much better preparation for a leadership role of such importance due to the responsibility and limelight that comes with the territory. Furthermore, Foreign Secretary comes with inherent benefits of establishing relationships with foreign heads of state. It is hard to recall any major contributions that Ed Miliband has made during his time in Government.
Ed also seems to want to distance himself from the New Labour ideology, this is counter to David who is perceived as Blairite. It should not be forgotten though, that pre-1997, Labour proved weak in opposition and it was the New Labour movement that was the catalyst for their success. Although, some would argue that the New Labour mandate is dead, I would argue that it was a recession with roots outside the UK and immigration concerns that lost Labour the last election. With regards to distancing himself from Blair, Ed has made clear the intention to de-couple Labour from the Iraq war. However, how he will go further than this is unclear; going against New Labour policies that have gained the party so much ground could prove to be a mistake.
The label of being on the ‘left’ has been attached to Ed Miliband, with names such as ‘Red Ed’ and ‘Comrade Miliband’ being thrown around. I have little doubt that these are crude exaggerations of his actual stance, however his position is certainly to the left of his older brother. I would argue that David is the brother who is orientated more towards the centre-ground, and that this is where Labour can get the most advantage going into the next election. With the Conservatives shifting clearly to the right, lead by their rapid shrinking of the state and the Liberal Democrats lacking a lucid identity, Labour can eat up the centre-ground. David, not Ed, was the best person for that job.
The new Labour leader will also have to contend with scrutiny over the way in which he was elected. The Conservatives will have a much easier time contesting the Miliband who was so dependent on the trade unions for his vote. They will no doubt imply that he is at the mercy of the unions and that Labour is harking back to the 1970’s. This image of moving backwards may damage the opposition, regardless of whether it is accurate or not.
However, I may be judging the situation too soon. There is only one way to find out the consequences of this leadership election and that is to wait. Ed Miliband may yet form a strong opposition with a robust cabinet, but, for now, I think he was the wrong choice.