Tim Montgomerie has rightly diagnosed a leadership vacuum. Miliband is timid before a parliamentary party that did not select him, and is struggling to acclimatise to a political discourse that the coalition government is moving beyond the terse liturgy of left and right. So far, Miliband's banal default tactic has been to seek consensus. In contrast, Ed Balls has delineated his brief with stark clarity and combative verve, achieved independent of his leader. Small wonder Miliband fears him.
Balls aside, Labour is drifting on calm waters. But there is only so far it can travel before serenity breaks into tempest. Ed Miliband’s leadership victory was secured by promising all things to all men – he had no coherent vision beyond telling each faction of the faithful what it wanted to hear. Eventually, leaders must define themselves and their parties; even if that entails banal photo-ops with huskies. Beginning at next Saturday’s National Policy Forum, the Labour Party will debate its future. That debate will be long; but it must be moulded and led from the start by Ed Miliband, whoever he might be.