This Bank Holiday week picked up on Tuesday as Tony Blair made an unusually peaceful intervention, criticising the Tories on Europe and declaring his unequivocal support for Ed Miliband. The former PM’s toxicity with some of the British public and most of the Labour grassroots took the shine off what should have been a good news day for his party.
Miliband summed it up failing to share a stage with Labour’s most successful leader ever. What Labour gained from Tony finally throwing his full backing behind Ed, they lost by the awkwardness of the whole thing.
Wednesday was a classic election punch up. We woke to headlines announcing a Labour ban on non-doms, and for a good few hours it looked like Miliband would deal a heavy blow to the Tories. Then, after initially struggling to respond, CCHQ found a three month old video of Ed Balls spoiling the whole policy. Come the all important BBC News bulletins at Six and Ten O’Clock, as much time was devoted to the row about the Shadow Chancellor’s comments as it was to the tax dodger-bashing headline Labour spinners wanted. They will have been furious at being denied a big win.
Thursday’s bunfight came courtesy of Michael Fallon, who accused Miliband of “stabbing his brother in the back”. It was widely reported as a gaffe, but such a statement will have been carefully choreographed by the Tories. Look how the day was spent debating whether or not Miliband had destroyed his own family, something which really resonates with voters, particularly women. (Who can forget that Kay Burley moment: “your poor mum”?) This is just about the last thing Labour want to talk about, so it was shrewd politics from the Tories.
It was a gloriously messy week, summed up by the chaotic spin war of the non-dom row. At times it looked like Labour were running away with it, so the Tories will be pleased to have stopped that from happening. In the end, though, with that major, populist policy announcement, Labour just about edged it.