A senior Labour figure has taken to the pages of the Mail on Sunday to call on Ed Miliband to resign as leader of the Labour Party. Andrew MacKinlay, a former Member of Parliament for Thurrock in Essex, slammed the party’s result in the recent Heywood and Middleton by election as “a complete disaster”, laying the blame at the feet of both Miliband and Douglas Alexander , the party’s chief strategist for next year’s general election.
The open letter comes as civil war breaks out in the party. On Thursday night Labour scraped to victory over Ukip by just 617 votes, a result which is widely recognised as disastrous for an official opposition party hoping for victory at the next election. Despite the collapse of the Liberal Democrat vote, Labour’s share of the vote rose by just one percent on the 2010 result, whilst Ukip stormed into strong second with a 36 percent increase.
“Last week’s by-election results confirmed what many of us in the Labour Party have been thinking for months – that Ed Miliband needs to step down as leader and make way for an election winner. It is not the performance of a Government-in-waiting to scrape a majority of little more than 600 votes in Heywood and Middleton, a previously safe Labour seat,” MacKinlay wrote.
He points out that previous Labour oppositions have let complacency caused by poll leads mar their strategies and subsequently lost elections as a result, saying “In the 1980s, Labour leaders Michael Foot and Neil Kinnock were also ahead in the polls for much of their time, yet fell short.
“Ed’s speech to the Labour Party conference last month, when he forgot to mention the deficit, was a train crash. My fear is that his fluff will join Mr Foot’s donkey jacket – when he wore a green coat while placing a wreath on the cenotaph in 1981 – as symbolic of a doomed leadership.
“Despite their flaws, even Foot and Kinnock demonstrated qualities which Ed lacks.”
Turning on Mr Alexander, MacKinlay writes “He has surrounded himself with too many wet-behind-the-ears advisers and apparatchiks who have never done a real day’s work in their lives.
“Chief courtier in this dysfunctional set is Douglas Alexander, who combines his role as Shadow Foreign Secretary with heading our General Election strategy team.
“Douglas was heavily implicated in Gordon Brown’s ‘bottled’ Election U-turn of 2007, ran David Miliband’s failed leadership campaign and played a key role in the pro-union referendum campaign in Scotland, which was floundering until Brown stepped in to save the day.
“And we are counting on him to deliver victory in 2015. How stupid.”
And after naming possible candidates more suited to the role, MacKinlay concludes “Ed, for the sake of the party we both love, please stand aside now.”
MP John Mann and party vice-chairman Michael Dugher have already engaged in a public slanging match this week, after Mr Mann called on the party to widen its appeal by broadening its policy offering. “Normally when John Mann talks about broadening the Labour coalition, he means broadening it to include John Mann,” remonstrated Mr Dugher, but Mann shot back “The reason voters hold us in such low regard is because of patronising and condescending views like that. Ukip’s support is being driven by a vitriolic rejection of an arrogant Westminster elite who think they know it all. This is the problem we have at the top of the Labour Party.”
Other MPs have also lined up to attack the Miliband leadership team on its failure to deal adequately with – or even acknowledge – the Ukip threat. Graham Stringer MP, who helped to defend the Heywood and Middleton seat on the ground said “The ministerial bag-carriers who now run the Labour Party have no idea how to manage the bare-knuckle street-fighting which is Farage’s speciality.”
It is Mr Stringer’s opinion that the way to tackle Ukip is to recognise the legitimate concerns that Britons have on immigration, but he bemoaned the leadership’s refusal to address this, saying “the team around Ed Miliband have this aversion to even discussing immigration because they are so ideologically wedded to the EU and its open borders policy.”
Another northern MP who would only speak to the Mail on condition of anonymity told that paper “If Miliband cared to ask me, I could tell him why Ukip is picking up votes in northern constituencies. It is because if a single mother with a child is in a queue for council housing, she will find that an East European family with three children can jump ahead of her.
“And if she goes to the local GPs, the same East European families will have taken all the appointments. Anyone who utters that kind of sentiment is denounced as a racist. It is nothing of the sort: it is the truth.”