The events in Europe this week have highlighted again that despite the Coalition getting into some poor positions, Labour all too frequently misses the open goals presented to them.
Following David Cameron’s snub of a new accord in Europe, Labour criticised him, but failed to say explicitly what they would have done. There are voices on the left that are just as unhappy about the proposed new treaty, on this site and Owen Jones in the New Statesman, for example.
Ed Miliband himself wrote in The Guardian:
The prime minister has not wielded a veto in Europe. He has simply failed to protect British business and British jobs
Any with the faintest clue about the feelings of the electorate about the EU would know that it is treated with suspicion and is not trusted by voters from both the left and right. EU lovers are are distinct minority. During fieldwork on the 8th and 9th of December, Yougov asked:
If other European countries wish to pursue closer integration, Britain should seek to play a full part?
This was supported by 7% of Conservatives, 27% of Labour and 24% of Liberal Democrats (15% Overall). As barely one quarter of Labour voters would have supported signing the proposed treaty, the Labour Leadership is therefore out of step with with it’s supporters.
Last night, a Survation poll for The Mail on Sunday showed that 62% thought that David Cameron was right to use the veto, against 19% who thought he was wrong.
Leadership is not about following opinion polls, but leading opinion based on principle. However, by not objecting firmly to the centralising economic controls in the accord that are straight from the IMF Neo-Liberal copybook, Ed missed a golden opportunity to combine principle and chiming with the electorate at large. He did this well during the phone hacking scandal, but this was the exception.
Too often the Labour Leadership as a whole has stood by while the Coalition flounders, just fence-sitting watching passively on. Eventually, the Coalition finds a path through and gets the reward. Labour just stares at it’s shoes having missed a golden opportunity to make the principled case for change and failing to show it understands the electorate.
I think that David Cameron’s decision this week will stop any further leaks of Conservative support to UKIP and improve his position as Prime Minister and Leader of the United Kingdom. His treaty veto will be his ‘Falkland’s Factor’. I also think that the Conservative as a whole will close the gap with Labour.
Ed had a mountain to climb to win the General election in 2015 previously. Now it is even harder for him.
Labour must learn fast that when an open goal is presented to them, they must hit the net. Ed may be the Labour’s star striker, but if he keeps missing another Miliband is sat on the substitute bench, keenly awaiting his chance. This other Miliband would a disaster for the party, and keep Labour where Tony Blair positioned it.
It’s half-time until the 2015 election and Labour are 3-0 down. Ed had better pull his socks up.