For months now, the British public have been inundated with press releases about Labour`s problems, generally focussing on Ed Miliband`s so-called "weirdness" and his lack of prime ministerial credentials. Steve Richards, for a change, has highlighted the Labour leader`s energisation as a "national figure when challenging orthodoxies and taking on powerful interests". (Only when Miliband is shaking things up is he at ease with leadership,17/02/15) Miliband may well be an "expedient insurgent", choosing his targets with care, but isn`t that not only a requirement of good leadership, but the very reason he is attacked so much by the Tories and their allies in the media? By promising to take action against the tax avoidance and evasion of rich individuals and companies, Miliband is again showing the determination denied to the electorate by the present government, keen as ever "to turn a blind eye"; Cameron`s five years in power have seen the staff at HMRC cut by 20%, when it has been shown that for every pound spent by HMRC`s business service, it collects £97, and £18 is the return on a pound spent by its local compliance unit.
With the UK still the "equivalent of a rotting, run-down castle", the election is there to be won by Labour, but perhaps its problems do not lie with the leadership? At the launch of its industrial strategy, when speaking about dealing with hedge funds, Miliband remarked on the "clarity of view right across the shadow cabinet", as if such unity was rare.(Our focus is on hedge funds not hedge trimmers,insists Labour,17/02/14) Could it be the case that there are some on the election team a little too close to the City for comfort? After all, a pledge to join with the EU`s Financial Transaction Tax, when it comes into force next January, would seem an obvious source both of much needed revenue and electoral support.
Richards is right to stress that Miliband`s "hunger for change" can win him the election, despite some lack of uniformity in the ranks; the problem is not with him, as the pro-Tory press like to insist, but there are certainly questions to be asked about the advisory team. What is the point of spending thousands on the likes of Axelrod for strategic advice, when crass decisions are made to send arrogant members of the shadow cabinet into interviews without notes at hand, and attempt to attract female support by means of a pink minibus? There is much work still to be done!