Left Watch

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Ed Miliband is losing vital battle of first impressions

By Tim Montgomerie

CCHQ have had a good few days. The machine has purred over the last 72 hours as it sought to win the early and vital battle to define Ed Miliband in the public mind.

Publicly there was Matt Hancock's identification of a £67bn black hole in Ed Miliband's economic plans. Once he was confirmed as Brown's successor, Sayeeda Warsi attacked the new Labour leader's union links. And, yesterday, new Tory attack dog Michael Fallon exposed Mr Miliband's flip-floppery.

More important has been the behind-the-scenes briefing of the press. That's going well too:

NightmareFPs The Mail, Telegraph and more interestingly Times all lead with the idea that the unions' elevation of Ed Miliband has buried New Labour. In its main leader The Times (£) says that Miliband "now has to disavow his own campaign, which set out unserious positions on banking, capitalism and the deficit in the public finances".

The FT (£) - which we should never forget backed Neil Kinnock in 1992 - is also unconvinced:

"His big state vision ill equips Mr Miliband for his biggest challenge as incoming leader: how to respond to the coalition’s deficit-reduction plans. He must curb the urge to attack cuts wholesale. This would expose Labour to charges of fiscal incontinence or require it to accept higher taxes. Mr Miliband says he dislikes the tag “red Ed”. He must show it is undeserved."

The decisive role played by the unions in electing Mr Miliband has led non-BBC news bulletins, including Channel 4.

This morning's Sun records what is becoming common currency:

"The backing of just THREE unions tipped the balance in Mr Miliband's narrow victory. Members of Unite, Unison and the GMB - which spent hundreds of thousands on his campaign - voted for him in their droves. This was crucial as David won more support among MPs and party members. Unite and GMB members backed Ed over David by more than two to one."

The new Labour leader can repair the damage with a good speech tomorrow but he's not enjoyed a good start. His start could get a lot worse if David Miliband walks away from his shadow cabinet.