Another week, another opportunity for Labour to increase its lead in the polls, without it actually having to do very much; a budget aimed at savers and elderly, and a Tory poster not merely patronising, but ridiculing, the working class, hand the Opposition another open goal. Yet the polls show little change, so shouldn`t the Labour hierarchy be worried?
Proposed policies clearly are not sufficiently attractive to woo the disillusioned Labour voter, moving in ever increasing numbers, as recent research has shown, to Ukip, but as their election strategist, Douglas Alexander, said recently, the "best way to defeat Ukip is to be a better Labour party". Strange, then, that he also admitted he had set up a team "dedicated to exposing the gap between the rhetoric of Ukip and its record", in other words, "Farage limitation"! No, Douglas, you were right first time, a "better party", with policies aimed at reducing inequality, restoring equality of opportunity and the welfare state, will win the election.
The fact that Labour`s lead is not as large as expected hasn`t got anything to do with the politicians, has it? Miliband is, at last, beginning to show some passion in his speeches, Burnham does too,and some, and was excellent on a recent Question Time. There`s a reasonable female representation on the frontbenches, and all are extremely competent and astute, definitely vote-winners. deserving of senior positions in a Labour government. On the other hand, the shadow education secretary, sadly, is a mistake, a proverbial fish out of water, privately educated, with no knowledge of why state schools are better, no empathy with the teachers, and no inkling of the qualities of their pupils, their skills, humour and abilities, not to mention "character and resilience"! But whilst he won`t win the confidence of many teachers, Tristram is probably not holding Labour back in the polls, even though he is guilty of giving probably the worst politicians` answer to a question for a long while. When asked about the school destination of his children, his reply, "Never rule out what takes place", was obfuscation at its worst!
So that leaves Mr Balls, rumoured to be far too close for comfort to the financial institutions of the City, which would explain why Labour has been so reticent over the Tobin tax and other measures to rein in City excess. He was, and has been before, physically too close to Osborne; being seen on television, cosying up to and joking with the man who has imposed poverty on, and caused stress to, millions of people in this country, is not the method most of us would employ as the best way of showing Labour as the party "different" from the others. He has also failed to convince the electorate that Labour`s spending in the last government did not cause the crash, and that, in fact, Brown`s policies probably prevented a bigger disaster. Does he have wide electoral appeal? Unfortunately, I fear not, as he does not come across well as a modern working father, not exactly sexist, but not strongly pro-feminist either; interviews have revealed very time consuming hobbies, piano playing and marathon running, which cannot allow any time for household chores and parental duties, and therefore, very little opportunity for his partner to enjoy her pastimes. Could such a thing have a bearing on the way people vote? Of course it does!
Does Ed Balls deserve to take the blame? His commitment to the cause cannot be doubted, but he could well be in the wrong job. Labour should not be pledging to continue the policies of austerity, especially with so much wealth in the country, and before they have seen the books; how can the Labour leadership expect to retain and win voters with a Tory agenda? The fundamental economic policy of Labour is wrong, and the wrong person is at its helm. With Reeves in post, and policy in a different direction, away from London, Labour`s lead in the polls can be substantially increased. J`accuse Monsieur Balls.!