Saturday Ramble: Does Miliband want to lose the election?
What are we to make of the report that Labour leader Ed Miliband wants to go into the General Election next spring without any defined policies; the aim being to base the campaign on an all-out attack on the Conservatives? The only mitigation I can think of is that a hardish Left politician, such as he, has a ready-made portfolio of policies to call on. It's called Marxism. The problem with that scenario is that the name Karl Marx is anathema to the electorate and would finish his career for ever, especially as the Blairite wing of the party would be slavering for his blood. If he wanted to make a real job of it, he might try "Marxist-Leninism". The Labour party is in enough of a pickle as it is. With the voter-unfriendly figure of Ed Balls by his side as Shadow Chancellor, the pair are a publicist's nightmare. The alternative explanation is that Miliband has over-reached himself, promoted way beyond his pay grade, and he knows it. Is he ready to be Prime Minister next May? You'd have to travel widely around the country to find many answering "yes". The truth is, the Labour party itself is exhausted after 13 failed years in office. Neither it, nor its MPs, are anywhere near ready to resume power. Nobody in the party is articulating fresh policies, while the Conservatives are brimming over with confidence, despite some doubts about leader David Cameron. George Osborne is making a fair fist of it at the Treasury, especially after an innovative Budget last week. Unless he bombs at some point, he can expect to be the favourite to replace Cameron when the PM chooses to step down. Michael Gove is only half-way through his programme of education reform and would be reluctant to leave it unfinished, especially as he might not be an instant hit with voters for the top spot. While Theresa May, although a good Home Secretary, is a little sombre to be the figurehead. The wild card in this scenario is Boris Johnson, whom Osborne and Cameron appear to have invited back into the Commons and presumably a government job. It's not immediately clear what advantage this would confer on Osborne if he really coverts the berth in Number Ten. Perhaps he doesn't want the job after observing it first-hand from next door. My money is on Boris.