By Tim Montgomerie
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When the Westminster Village gets an idea into its head its herd-like behaviour is a wonder to behold. Remember before the Olympics when newspaper frontpage after newspaper frontpage was constant doom'n'gloom? Or the shared 'wisdom' that Boris wasn't popular outside the South? One of the Village's other recent conclusions is that Ed Miliband is on the up and up. While, in January, they were burying him (something I suggested, at the time, was overdone) they are now ignoring the fact that, outside of SW1, the public don't really see Miliband Jnr as any more prime ministerial than when he first pipped his brother to the leadership post. On best prime minister ratings he's still stuck below the kind of ratings 'enjoyed' by Gordon Brown. Yes, Gordon Brown. Only 5% see Ed Miliband as a natural leader according to today's Sun/YouGov survey.
On Sunday Paul noted that, under Mr Miliband, Labour's share of the vote is actually quite modest compared to previous Labour leaders. In recent weeks, for example, Labour has been getting up towards 44% in the YouGov daily tracker. that's a long way short of the percentages that Kinnock (56%) or Blair (53%) received in opposition. Labour may have won lots of switchers from the Liberal Democrats but very few from the Tories. Lord Ashcroft's Corby poll appeared to confirm the relative solidity of the Conservative vote for this stage of the electoral cycle. It's the collapse of the LibDem vote that is the problem for Conservative MPs with strongly-second-placed Labour candidates.
The weakness of Ed Miliband is the subject of Janan Ganesh's third Tuesday column for the Financial Times (£). "Miliband ought to be having sleepless nights", he writes, because he has dismal ratings and the guns of the Tory Party and of the right-wing press haven't begun to be turned on him, as they will in the final stages of the parliament:
"Mr Cameron lost about half of his poll lead in his last 18 months as leader of the opposition, as did Mr Blair. A similar squeeze will happen to Labour, starting in 2014. They evince little sign of preparedness."