Junior Miliband, the occasional leader of the Labour Party,  has returned to work from nappy leave, to face the discontent and disloyalty of his party’s ranks that is Gordon Brown’s most enduring legacy. Unfortunately for Mr Miliband, everything points to the cause of the discontent being him.

This is tough on Junior whose first couple of months in charge have been untouched by either catastrophe or gaffe.  Rather these early days have seen Labour make a steady advance to lead the polls, while Mr Miliband himself has settled into an inoffensive leadership style best characterised by reliably consistent boredom punctuated by sudden and intense bursts of ennui.  Mr Miliband  is more neutral than Switzerland and enjoys approximately as much media coverage.

In the age of the celebrity fix, this simply will not do. Our party leaders must either be decisive men of action, like Mr Blair who spent the early years of his leadership burying his opponents in unmarked graves or unintentionally hilarious, like William Hague.  Mr Miliband instead provokes comparisons with Iain Duncan-Smith, whose election as Tory leader in the week of 9/11 rather cemented a reputation for being over-shadowed.

Mr Miliband does not have it in him to be hilarious and so must cultivate instead the action persona if he is to survive.  He has come back to Westminster promising to review his party’s policies, which is a start, even if not a particularly original one. Presumably Mr Miliband means by this that he wants to decide what Lasbour’s policies should be. Nevertheless, we shouldn’t discount the possibility that the purpose of the review is to decide whether the Labour Party needs to have any policies at all. Sooner or later someone is bound to suggest that Labour needs a re-brand and these sort of things can generally be managed with the aid of a different logo and a campaign on Facebook.

Mr Miliband is also almost certain to be judged in need of his “clause 4 moment”. This is one of the two indisipensable items that must perforce be packed into any politician’s jungle survival kit (the other is a “his Leo McGarry” in deference to the eponymous character out of The West Wing (older issues of the kit have a his or her Willie)).

It is fairly obvious what Junior’s clause 4 moment needs to be.  Mr Blair had to jettison the historic commitment to expropriating the means of production and control so as to stop the heart of old Labour. Mr Miliband must now rid his party of its ancient attachment to the visceral beating embodiment of new Labour. Yes indeed, Peter Mandelson must go.

Lord Mandelson, whose agents are everywhere, appears to have received advance warning of this plan. This is why he turned up in yesterday’s Mail on Sunday to announce that he had no intention of being moved into an old people’s home. No need for that really you might say since he is already in the House of Lords, which is rather like a nursing home though without the all-pervading tang of urine.

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements