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Five reasons why Ed Miliband might be easier to beat than Gordon Brown

By Tim Montgomerie
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Mounted Labour

Ed Miliband might be much easier prey for the Tory machine than Gordon Brown

ConservativeHome has long pointed to the steep mountain that has to be climbed in order for Tories to win the next election. One of our concerns has been that Conservatives couldn't even win a majority under a disunited, discredited Labour Party under Gordon Brown. But - for the second time - it's worth wondering if Labour under Ed Miliband might be an easier opponent than Labour under Gordon Brown. Here are a few reasons why it might be:

  1. Ed Miliband's ratings are - in some respects - even worse than Brown's. Whatever voters thought of Brown (and it wasn't much) he was a considerable and experienced figure. Miliband is struggling to compete with Brown in the up-to-being-PM stakes. His ratings have hardly improved since he was first elected. A recent YouGov/Times poll found Miliband "less in touch, less caring about ordinary people, less trustworthy, considerably less decisive, weaker, less competent and much less clear about what he stands for" than Brown.
  2. The second most important post is Chancellor/Shadow Chancellor. On these measures Ed Miliband's pick for the job - Mr Ed Balls - trails George Osborne and also looks less credible than Alistair Darling. At the last election the Labour Party had a Treasury spokesman who was seen as a moderating influence on its leader. Today's Treasury spokesman is someone who voters want to be moderated.
  3. Welfare was not a dominant issue at the last election. It will be at the next one. Tory positions are overwhelmingly more popular with voters than Labour's. Even Labour's heartland vote agrees with Cameron, Osborne and Duncan Smith on issues like the benefit cap, benefits uprating and limiting access to benefits according to family size (a policy likely to be in the Tory manifesto if it doesn't frighten the Liberal Democrats).
  4. Ed Miliband has a muddled position on Europe. He has to understand that in opposing a referendum on Europe he's not just alienating Eurosceptics (he didn't have the support of many of them anyway) but he's looking like a politician who doesn't trust the people. For a politician who already seems a bit detached from the concerns of ordinary voters that's very dangerous.
  5. Labour is getting into a real pickle with candidate selection. There are increasing concerns that the Unite union is stuffing the parliamentary Labour Party with people who will defend the pay, perks and privileges of unionised public sector members. Given Ed Miliband only beat his brother to the Labour leadership because of union votes and because of Labour's dependency on union money this whole union link could become a big issue; reminding voters of the pre-Blair Labour Party.

There's five reasons. I'm sure you can come up with one or two more.