David Axelrod jets into London this week for the first time since signing up to help Labour in 2015. Axelrod, who friends admit is no expert on UK politics, will have two days to try and get his head round the shape of the next election campaign.
This trip will mark the first time that Axelrod and Miliband have met face to face. Up to now, they have only spoken on the telephone. Axelrod will also address a specially convened meeting of the shadow Cabinet.
There’s no doubt that having the man who helped Obama get to the White House in town will be a boost to Labour morale. But the scale of the task facing Axelrod is demonstrated by the events of the last week. Labour’s bizarre party political broadcast last week demonstrated a collective lack of judgement: why did nobody put their foot down and say this is puerile and offensive, let’s bin it? While the blunder of trying to make a point about the increase in VAT rising but using food exempt from the tax to do it suggested a level of sloppiness that will be punished in a general election.
More broadly, Miliband needs to remember that if he’s to win, he needs the votes of those who aren’t as certain as he is that he’s right. It is not enough for Labour just to claim that the Tories are heartless and the Lib Dems spineless. If it is to succeed in 2015, Labour needs to do far more to persuade and reassure.