What will the Labour fallout, if any, from today’s polls, be? Generally when this sort of bad news befalls to the Conservative party, the gossip turns quickly to David Cameron’s standing as leader. But in the Labour case, it’s a bit more complicated. This is partly because the party tends to feel far more loyal to Miliband than Conservative MPs do. They feel as though he tends to invest in them personally – even those who didn’t support his leadership or are unhappy with his policies. And so they’re less likely to turn on him.
The knives have already been out for Douglas Alexander for some time, with shadow cabinet members talking more and more about their frustration with key aspects of the party’s campaign for the European elections and for the general election. But as James reported in March, Alexander has warned colleagues that Labour cannot expect to have the kind of poll leads it did before previous election victories because of the advent of four-party politics – and he will be hoping that this advice will be recalled this week.
But there’s also a chance that the party will come after the Shadow Cabinet as much as it will come after the leader. Once Labour MPs get warmed up about the problems with their party, they’re more likely to complain that the Shadow Cabinet isn’t pulling its weight, that there are only a few names who are bothering to go out and bat for Ed Miliband. Those are Sadiq Khan, Rachel Reeves, and sometimes Chuka Umunna (although one senior party figure damned him faintly with praise to me recently, saying that ‘Chuka can be good’).