After we commented on how Ed Miliband needs to begin making strides and create an impression as Labour party leader, it seems he has finally started to kick himself into gear.
This week proved to be one of change for Miliband as he began to discuss change within the Labour party. His speech at the national policy forum could be remembered as a pivotal moment in his leadership, as he admitted that Labour had “lost touch”.
“A party created by working people, for working people, lost touch with them.”
It is a statement that could prove to be the building blocks for a fresh party.
And it was confirmed later in his speech:
“We can only win if we change.”
The speech appears to mark the launch of Miliband’s vision of the Labour Party. He drew a final line under New Labour as he criticised and praised aspects of the regime. He cannot be too critical, as after all, he was a senior figure within it.
It is his proposals for the future which have provoked the most comment, and map out what he believes the Labour Party should be.
The biggest change comes in the election of his shadow cabinet members. Currently this follows old rules which allow MPs to vote every two years to select the front bench.
However, Miliband himself wants to select members of his cabinet. An idea which has been supported by key Labour figures, including his brother David, Tessa Jowell and Douglas Alexander.
In theory the rules would give Miliband a greater authority within Labour, allowing him to better select people he can work with successfully. From a managerial standpoint it makes sense.
But not everyone is keen.
Somewhat predictably it is John McDonnell who disagrees with the plans.
He warns that such a system would remove democracy from within the party, stating that Miliband would be battling those within Labour. Worryingly such changes were rejected before Miliband became leader of the Labour party and again it is up to the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) to decide if the new system will be implemented.
But there is one aspect that may swing the vote in Ed’s favour.
The new rules also suggest that the chairman of the PLP should become a member of the shadow cabinet. In theory this allows backbenchers to have a greater say in party policy.
These changes must be approved if Ed Miliband is to keep control and show that he is capable of leading Labour into the next election.
If approval is not granted it would almost certainly signal the beginning of the end for Ed. A leader cannot be successful without the publicly acknowledged support of his party, and a rejection of his ideas would be equivalent to a vote of no confidence.
This is not the only reason why Ed’s position would be strengthened.
As John McDonnell warned, the system would allow Ed to handpick his own shadow cabinet. He could weed out those that oppose or criticise him and work with just his supporters, again giving him greater control over his party. But is that too much power?
There are concerns that such changes would be a return to New Labour, specifically Blair, who at times appeared to have total control of the party.
While this is a negative view of the proposals, all perceptions must be considered, and in his efforts to change Labour, Miliband may be indirectly taking a step backwards.
Miliband has placed his reputation, and his political future, on the line with his changes. He knows the risks involved, but he is aware that the pay-off could be huge, both for his party and for himself.
Changing for the Better?
Ed Miliband's party reform proposals are vital to his political future
by Jared Lynn (28 June 2011)