The academic behind a four year study of the Labour Party is today recommending that Ed Miliband must reconcile the political philosophy of New Labour to stand a chance of winning in next year's General Election.
Professor John Gaffney, Professor of Politics and Co-Director of the Aston Centre for Europe at Aston University, makes the call in a briefing note outlining the findings of a research project he has been leading since 2010.
The research has followed the trajectory of Ed Miliband's leadership, examining how the Labour leader is perceived by his party, the media and voters.
Professor Gaffney observes that:
• Miliband must form a strong Shadow Cabinet and weed out those who do not trust him as leader
• He must reconcile with New Labour, lifting his 'One Nation' narrative to a national level by bringing together the various narratives of Labour
• Labour must announce what their plan is for the first 100 days in power, developing a distinct set of five-point policies
• The Party must show what a Labour vision looks like, to inspire both existing Labour supporters and persuade voters
Professor Gaffney comments:
"The time has come for Ed Miliband to reconcile with New Labour. He can only unify the Party and the electorate if he brings together all its narrative strands. When he became leader, Miliband had to distance himself from the New Labour narrative that, for all its faults, did serve the Party well with its unifying rhetoric. Now he must bring New Labour back into the fold, for the sake of his credibility as leader and for the future of the Labour Party."
Spanning four years, the project analyses how Miliband is seen by those within the Labour Party, his opposition, the media and voters. From his findings, Professor Gaffney says it is clear that Miliband has faced challenges to perform as a leader. He comments:
"Miliband has sometimes failed to perform as a leader and make his One Nation narrative stick. The voters, the media, even his own Party are wholly unconvinced of his ability to be a strong leader. The time is now for Miliband to start performing like a potential Prime Minister."
Professor Gaffney recommends that the Labour leader form a strong team and get rid of those who do not support him. He says:
"A few sackings between now and May could do Miliband a lot of good. He needs a team of people who are behind him all the way, not just simply mumble their support whenever rumours of the latest leadership plot surface. It's time for Miliband to give his inner circle an ultimatum: back me or get out.
"Above all, Miliband must show his vision of tomorrow. Strong performance can only be matched by strong policies. Labour must make clear what their plan is for their first 100 days in power, otherwise they have no chance of convincing voters of who they are and what they stand for.
"Labour's chance is slipping away. If they stand any chance of winning in May, they must take action now. They must stick with Miliband – to change leader now would just demonstrate panic – but Miliband must assume true leadership, with a united team behind him to drive strong, distinctive policies and give the Party what it needs for success in 2015."