In recent days, I have read an increasing amount of commentary on the relative inability of Labour and its leader Ed Miliband to cut through to the media and by default, reach the public. Those I’ve spoken to have suggested that in opposition, Labour just weren’t prepared for the lack of column inches they would get. A problem exacerbated by the presence of Liberal Democrats as the main agitators to Government by virtue of their, albeit limited, status as coalition partners.
Two articles particularly caught my eye: Dan Hodges posted on Labour Uncut Time for Labour’s flat earthers to get real, an insightful commentary of Labour’s self perception as being too right wing, when in fact, the contrary is true; I’d thoroughly recommend reading it. Most I’ve spoken to have said this is spot on. So I was interested to read this morning on FT’s Westminster blog about Labour’s attempts to re-engage with business, an area most would associate with those on the centre-right of the political spectrum. Not a prawn cocktail offensive on the scale of the mid-nineties, John Denham (Shadow Business Secretary) is keen to establish, but it is telling to see Labour’s recognition of the need to rebuild credibility with this audience.
I suppose acknowledging the problem is the first hurdle to remedying it. Others would argue Labour needs to go much further in acknowledging the extent of the problem(s). However, engaging business is wholly necessary if Labour are to hold the Government to account more effectively and longer term, be a credible alternative to the Coalition.
Business too should not ignore the importance of engaging Labour given they’re currently undertaking a policy review, their role in holding the Government to account and the fact that they will in time, be an alternative to Government.
As highlighted by PoliticsHome’s Dot Commons’ Diary, Ed Miliband himself was at pains to thank journalists for their kind words following his wedding day. In Social Care, he seems to have found an issue to generate media traction. It will be interesting to see whether he can take this form into business and economic issues.