Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Friday, January 20, 2012

Can Labour find a successor to Cameron?

Some people think that the reason Labour hasn't reached a position of really challenging the coalition government is because of the leader.

Many thanks to Rebecca Small who teaches at Oakton High School in Virginia for pointing out the Washington Post article.

In Britain, opposition party leader struggles to find voice
For the opposition Labor Party, this should be a shining moment. Under Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron, unemployment is up, budget cuts are biting British wallets and the government’s veto of a new European Union economic treaty has left the country increasingly isolated from its neighbors.

And yet rather than Cameron, it is Labor’s chief, Ed Miliband, who is confronting a profound crisis of popularity. Only 16 months after he defeated his brother to win the crown of opposition leader, Miliband’s approval ratings have sunk to record lows. Suddenly, not only his rivals on the other side of the aisle but also influential power brokers within his own party are openly questioning his leadership.

Miliband confronted his critics this week, outlining a new direction for the Labor Party in an effort to revitalize his tenure and hold on long enough to challenge Cameron in elections still three years away…

Yet the problem, analysts say, is not Labor’s message, but the messenger. Miliband, fairly or not, is being pelted with criticism…

Miliband has seemed a round short in the intellectual blood sport of British politics, played out weekly on the floor of Parliament where Cameron and Miliband set their wits against each other in terse, often-biting oral combat.

“I think the simplest way of saying it is that most people don’t see him as a prime minister,” said Peter Kellner, president of YouGov, one of Britain’s largest polling firms. “It’s to do with his manner, his lack of experience, the fact that people don’t see a toughness of character in him. People on some level think being prime minister is a man’s job, and in Ed Miliband, they see a boy.”…

Miliband’s situation looks worse when compared with Cameron’s success. In many ways, the prime minister has defied the odds, maintaining a relatively buoyant approval rating despite his relentless and, according to the polls, largely unpopular crusade against government spending…

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