Ed Miliband is fighting for his political life tonight as the patience of his MPs appeared to give way. His leadership has been dogged with mistakes, personal awkwardness and a failure to connect with the public.
Earlier this week MPs attending a meeting of the Parliamentary Labour Party openly questioned his leadership. Then there were rumours that a letter of no confidence was being circulated within the House of Commons.
Although no MPs were willing to talk in public about the problems being faced by the Labour leader a number of them have been briefing against him since his disastrous party conference speech and the near defeat to UKIP in the Heywood and Middleton by-election. One MP told today’s Times: “Colleagues are saying we’re in meltdown and freefall. If you [had] asked me yesterday, or even this morning, if Ed could go before the election I would have said no. But now I’m not so sure.”
In the Daily Mail a former Cabinet Minister was even more robust saying: “What pisses me off is he said he would be about content not style, but it’s all style and spin… and it’s shit. The only thing worse than the idea he won’t be Prime Minister is the thought that he might.”
Rumours are now swirling that if a credible figure like Alan Johnson was willing to take on the leadership Miliband would be removed within hours. However, Labour MPs are worried about the proximity to the General Election and the effect a protracted leadership battle might have on the party just six months away from it.
Ed Miliband hit back at detractors in his own party, telling the BBC: “This is nonsense. My focus, and the Labour party’s focus, is on the country, and the things that matter to the country. That’s the cost of living crisis, the NHS, it’s the prospects for the next generation. That’s my focus here in Northampton and that’s our focus across the country …
“There are huge issues that the country faces, issues of why the country doesn’t work for most people. That is what we are determined to change. We are determined to be a one-term opposition that changes that.”
Miliband will hope to get a little bit of respite until next week, most MPs have now headed home to get to their constituencies for Friday surgeries.