Red Ed’s mission impossible

There will be some tough times ahead for the new leader of the Labour party, if he does what the union leaders and the hard-liners in his party want he’ll make Labour unelectable. Livingstone has already damaged himself, when asked by Radio 4 on Friday if he sided with the RMT and TSSA over the tube strikes or with commuters, he said he sided with the unions. Politically stupid but what else could he say, they paid for and hosted his candidature campaign.

I’ve already written about the unions’ counterproductive actions, people will have little sympathy with strikes when their own jobs have been in jeopardy over the last few years and private sector pay rises have been small or non-existent. The unions sailed very close to the wind with their mail out of ballot papers to members, it is impossible for Ed to say that the union leaders didn’t swing it for him, they did. The Guardian explains their actions:

The union, again within the rules, put its endorsement for Ed Miliband on the front of the package sent to all members which included a magazine with his picture on the front and a letter from the leader of the GMB, Paul Kenny, explaining the union’s endorsement of the younger Miliband brother.

But there is concern at senior levels in the Labour party over whether the literature fell within the principles set out by the party.

Mark Wickham-Jones, professor of politics at Bristol University, was worried by the GMB’s mailout. Speaking before the result, he said: “The GMB appear to have broken the spirit of the rules guiding the conduct of the Labour party leadership election by sending out a strong recommendation for Ed Miliband together with the ballot paper for political levy payers.

“In the event of an Ed Miliband victory, if the GMB has broken the [spirit of the] rules laid down for the election, it may well be more than an embarrassment for both the new leader and the party.

Ed is now claiming that he will protect the middle classes, not drift to the left and not be bossed around by the unions. All very good if he means it, but it contradicts the pronouncements he made during the leadership race. Was he telling the truth now or was he telling the truth then?

At some point the unions will want their pound of flesh and Ed will have a choice, does he upset his sole source of financial and political support or does he do what is right for the country? If the former he won’t have the money or people on the ground to win an election if the later the British people won’t vote for him.

Ed has painted himself into a very tight corner and I can’t see how he is going to get out of it.

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