8 May 2015

‎Ed Miliband goes down in flames


Arise, Sir Lynton Crosby… the hard-nosed Aussie election guru hired by David Cameron to run the Tory party’s election campaign has pulled off an extraordinary victory and if he is not given a gong for getting an overall majority, or coming very close to it, he can at least have the satisfaction of proving his critics wrong. All those people – Tory donors, MPs and pundits – who were primed to launch an all out assault on the conduct of the Tory campaign, calling it dire, shockingly rubbish, negative, inept and generally not very good, must now put a sock it.

‎But while Lynton Crosby and the Tories can celebrate a famous victory that the pollsters did not predict, spare a thought for Ed Miliband who will get no reward whatsoever. Despite him fighting a good campaign (certainly in the early stages) and outperforming low expectations, on the day he went down in flames.

It was a ghastly night for Labour and the scale of the resulting carnage is mindboggling. In Scotland the shadow foreign secretary Douglas Alexander lost to a 20 year-old politics student; Labour’s Scottish leader Jim Murphy was a goner too; and seat after seat fell to the SNP with enormous swings. It was seismic stuff in Scotland, ‎and grim ‎for the party in England too.

For those of us who said five years ago that Ed Miliband‎ should not be underestimated this is obviously what politicians call “a difficult moment.” Yes, Miliband was tough enough to make it to election day and not be deposed. Yes, he mapped his own distinctive left-wing course. But ultimately he could not cut it and he led his party to disaster with a message that was rejected decisively.

Much will be written‎ in the days to come about the Labour leader’s personal failings and why he lost so badly. But it is fascinating – and reassuring – that Miliband’s statist anti-market economic analysis should have been so roundly rejected. In English seat after seat, where Labour thought they were in with a chance, the Tories piled up votes and it became clear that many more people than anticipated were determined to prevent Miliband from conducting a left-wing experiment on the UK’s economy.

Iain Martin is Editor of CapX