Don't Panic

Why Miliband will be the next Prime Minister (not Ed)

David Miliband pictured at 10 Downing Street. Photo: PAThis week I’m going to make a few bold predictions about the emerging political landscape.

First of all, Cameron will be Prime Minister after comfortably winning the next election.

But then, I believe David - not Ed - Miliband will lead Labour to victory.

We’re nearly halfway through the coalition’s term, and while there have clearly been fractious encounters within Parliament, the disagreements have, broadly speaking, come between the two members of the coalition as opposed to from within the Tory party.

Because of this, Cameron remains relatively unopposed within his party and it would take a major disaster or scandal to upset that.

Furthermore, the core tenet of Cameron's policy - reducing the deficit - now has a broad coalition of support among the electorate. And while the unions continue to rattle their sabres, he remains fairly insulated from the issues that have caused most public outcry.

Just look at how Health Secretary Andrew Lansley appears to be taking all the flack for NHS reform, and perhaps, more tellingly, Nick Clegg, who has become the turncoat villain over university top-up fees. And this brings us neatly to the party he leads, the Liberal Democrats.

The kingmakers in the coalition have probably triggered a boycott by a strong proportion of their voters after reneging on their pre-election promise over university fees.

Come the next election in 2015 these voters may choose Labour instead. But that will have little impact on the fact that Labour will remain, as they are now, unelectable under Ed Milliband.

Yes, Ed has been doing better as the leader of the opposition. He has shown a clear improvement at the despatch box - this week's PMQs was a particular treat. Also, the Labour Party appear more united now than they did under Brown and this growing party unity is vital for forming a credible opposition. Also, under Ed's stewardship, the party's 2010 low point of 32% approval now stands at 37% -  one percentage point ahead of the Tories.



But, despite all of this, there remain robust presentational issues with Ed Miliband.

His voice is nasal and frequently sounds muddled, and despite a strongly principled stance, he interviews badly - he looks choreographed and clunky. Additionally, history tells us that voter fatigue is a key factor in choosing governments. Only twice since 1900 has a party who have served consecutive terms returned after just one period in opposition - and neither time was it Labour.

Therefore, assuming that the Labour Party do not panic and mutiny before, Ed will step down after he loses the 2015 election. And this will be the moment of truth for David Miliband.

By that time, I think that Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper will be a strong contender for leadership - her husband, Ed Balls, challenged in 2010. We may also see rising star Stella Creasy MP challenge, alongside another excellent orator, the Shadow Secretary for Business, Innovation and Skills, Chukka Umuna.

But David has the pedigree and experience in government. He also has the story, and that is the point I will end on. David lost the 2010 Labour leadership contest to his brother Ed by 0.16%. A tiny amount. Ed's win here has been widely credited to courting the trade union bloc within the Labour Party, who admire his more Left-wing stance.


                                                   [Related link: How to fix Ed Miliband]


But David Miliband comes across more naturally, his sentences are crisp and fluent, and, crucially, his political rhetoric is more Blairite - his focus is pragmatic rather than principled.

And this ties into widespread shifts in British politics. Firstly, parties are moving more to the centre, and secondly politicians are younger.

This, combined with the move towards ‘career politicians’ – those whom have only worked in politics since leaving uni, means that politicians do not have stories, and in 2020, the British public will need a leader with a back story.

Assuming, and it’s a big assumption, that we will be out of the economic quagmire, people will feel empowered again, and less willing to allow an Etonian elite to take the reins.

And that’s where David comes in. There will need to be a reconciliation between Ed and David, and I predict that this will probably form some kind of public spectacle, but that's what New Labour do best!

The British love an underdog, and casting David Miliband as the underdog in that particular family has been a magnificent piece of work along Homeric lines, and one that, in the era of centrist politics, is probably worth voting for.

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