Labour party leader, Ed Miliband, has made a series of comments that show that he and his party are taking some major steps for the general election, now only ten months away.
First of all came his recent comments on image, particularly his own. Beginning Labour’s summer campaign, he talked about David Cameron, saying that cannot he compete with him on image and does not intend to. Interestingly, he drew focus to what many in the media criticise as his main fault: his image, or lack of a good one.
The Conservatives are likely to portray the 2015 election as a contest between David Cameron or Ed Miliband for Prime Minister, and according to most polls, David Cameron has much higher personal ratings than Ed Miliband. Additionally, he and Chancellor George Osborne also tend to be more trusted on the economy, than the two Labour Eds. Those two factors will be key in determining 2015 Conservative strategy.
However, Ed Miliband’s recent spin on his looks, demonstrates his attempt to change the debate from who’s the best man to walk into Downing Street next May to a debate about the politics of substance and policies, not of style and image.
It’s a gamble for Miliband to tackle this head on, by drawing attention to his lack of image, but recognising his faults and resultantly reframing the debate to one about policy not style could help see him walk into No. 10 next year.
The opportunity also allowed Miliband to point out that politics is not purely about photo opportunities, in the same speech, something which undoubtedly needs more emphasising in today’s political climate of dissatisfaction and distrust.
Recent events such as the ‘bacon sandwich incident’ and his portrayal by the Spectator as Wallace, with Ed Balls being Gromit, have reinforced the bad image Miliband has, and have arguably spurred him to make these interventions. Whether this has paid off is yet to be seen.
Secondly, Ed Miliband’s suggestions on Sunday for including members of the public in a version of Prime Minister’s Questions, to ask questions, demonstrates his gearing up for 2015.
His proposal includes having a fair and balanced group of people asking questions to the prime minister in an attempt to bring the public closer to politics.
Whether this will be successful or not will be decided only after it happens, if it does, but more importantly it shows that Ed Miliband is trying to reach out and get more people involved with the political process, as well as preparing for the general election. It is an attempt to connect with the voters, subsequently revealing another angle of Labour's One Nation message.
Polls continue to show a lead for the Labour party, but the worry for Miliband and the rest of the Labour opposition is that as the election nears and the Conservatives get across their message that the economy is growing and that Cameron is a better man for the job of prime minister, this lead will narrow culminating in a 2015 Conservative win. These interventions by Ed Miliband are to tackle these issues head on and hopefully, for their sake, result in a change of public opinion and perhaps a Labour victory. However, as ever with electoral speculation, only time will tell.