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What will Miliband do now?

17 January 2012

9:36 AM

17 January 2012

9:36 AM

The Labour leader Ed Miliband has been determined not to define himself by picking
fights against his own side. He didn’t want to do a Blair or a Cameron and triangulate his way to power. Rather, his model was, in one respect, Thatcher. His team were struck by how she
managed to move the political centre from opposition.

But Miliband now finds his own side picking fights against him. As Pete blogged earlier, Unite’s Len
McCluskey has launched an intemperate attack on him in The Guardian. McCluskey claims that Miliband’s recognition that Labour’s starting point has to be that the cuts will be reality by
2015 has ‘undermined his leadership’. He even suggests that Miliband has now put himself in danger of being ousted by the bogey-men Blairites.

The question now is how does Miliband react to this intervention? Does he take this opportunity to move into triangulation mode? So far, the noises coming out of his office are relatively
conciliatory — they are, as Nick Robinson said just now on the Today Programme, stressing that McCluskey has misunderstood the policy. But there will be those who want Miliband to run with
this, to wear this attack as a badge of his fiscal credibility. The struggle over whether or not to do this could come to define Miliband’s leadership.

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