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File photo dated 06/02/12 of Labour Party leader Ed Miliband, who has brushed off Labour's shock defeat in the Bradford West by-election, claiming the party is set for a return to power at the next general election. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Sunday April 1, 2012. See PA story POLITICS Miliband. Photo credit should read: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire
Monday, April 2, 2012
In his interview with the Observer yesterday Ed Miliband struck an optimistic note after Labour’s humiliating defeat in Bradford.
While his suggestion that Labour will be back in government after a single term in opposition is “brave”, he is right on a couple of things.
One, on what Labour’s challenge is - “it is to say you make big changes without spending a lot of money. That is the holy grail of British politics at the moment.”
It is endlessly suggested from the government benches that Labour does not understand this simple fact, indeed Labour’s assault on pretty much every spending cut leaves that impression too, so to hear the leader say it every now and again is important.
The second point he is right on is this, “our job is to move into that space, and that space is opening up.”
Sounds airy, but bear with me. In my EDP columns for the past fortnight I’ve been arguing that people are reverting to the frame of reference that the Tories are the party of the rich. As that happens there will be a space in the political centre ground that emerges.
Of course being able to see the space opening up is easy, as is working out what Labour’s challenge is. Doing something about it is a very different thing.
Labour’s plan pushed out last week to ease the pressure on family budgets demonstrated little of the maturity and ambition alluded to in the Leader’s interview. Meanwhile the defeat in Bradford suggests the party machine is not operating properly even if the leadership could get its strategy in place.
It means the fundamental dynamic of the fight between the big two parties has not dramatically shifted. If the government can get its act together quickly, or even just have a period of calm, then it should recover from the bruising time it has had last week.