Isabel Hardman Isabel Hardman

How can Labour overcome Ed Miliband’s poor appeal to voters?

How do Labour campaigners overcome the Ed Miliband problem on the doorstep? Today’s Standard poll finds just 13 per cent of voters think he is ready to be Prime Minister, down from 22 per cent in June. MPs, candidates and activists have noticed a hardening in voters’ attitudes towards the Labour leader. One says: ‘Voters have gone from thinking “I’m not sure about this guy” to “I’ve made up my mind about this guy and I’m not going to vote for him”.’ But the candidate standing before them on the doorstep needs to work out how to persuade that voter to back them. So what do they do?

One says that they explain to voters that when you meet Ed Miliband in person he’s a ‘really nice, funny, smart guy who cares desperately about our country’. That may work if the voter likes the MP or candidate in front of them, but others disagree, worrying that it makes them sound as though they’re part of the dreaded Westminster bubble. ‘I say, well, you don’t need to worry: Ed Miliband’s name isn’t on the ballot paper and mine is,’ says another Labourite worried about the leadership. That doesn’t inspire much confidence, but at least it’s a way of moving the conversation on.

Not everyone sees Miliband as a big problem, though. In one marginal seat where Labour is chasing the Tories, activists say they get complaints about the Conservatives more than they do wobbles about their own leader. They are pleased with policies that the Labour leadership has announced that answer many of the grumbles they do get, particularly the party’s promise to scrap the ‘bedroom tax’, which is the only benefit cut that polls remotely badly.

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