Alex Hilton: Miliband needs a comms lionheart

Strangely, Labour's media profile since electing Ed Miliband is somewhat lower than when there was no party leader.

Alex Hilton
Alex Hilton

The message from Labour HQ is that they are in it for the long haul; they are bedding in, pacing themselves. It's no coincidence the party is seeking a head of comms: this turgid approach is indicative of a vacuum.

That's not to say there are not talented people around the leader, but there seems to be an overwhelming focus on internal matters. There is a struggle for power between the leader, the party's National Executive Committee, the unions Unite and GMB and, of course, the deputy leader Harriet Harman, for whom Miliband used to photocopy and make tea.

The party's handling of the Phil Woolas affair is an example of this jostling. Woolas, a former immigration minister and MP for Oldham East, was found guilty last week of knowingly publishing untruths about his Liberal Democrat opponent and his election was consequently declared void.

The Labour Party reaction was instant, with Harman declaring there is no way back for Woolas as a Labour MP, even if he overturns the ruling at a planned judicial review. However, a shadow cabinet insider described Miliband as 'late to the party' on the Woolas reaction due to the birth of his second child.

The role that needs filling requires someone who will step in on occasions like these and stamp the leader's authority on a decision. Either Harman's line should have been endorsed by the leader or she should have been prevented from bouncing the leader and the party into that line. The absence of either tack simply made Miliband look weak.

Miliband needs someone who will step brazenly into every political minefield and lead the team safely through; someone who will not dance daintily around the many, varied egos you find at the upper levels of any power structure. Until someone with sufficient political awareness and the toughness to carry it off is appointed, those at Labour HQ will continue pacing themselves. Because that's what pedestrians do.

Alex Hilton is a political communications adviser and former Labour parliamentary candidate

Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus

Latest Articles

John Lewis to tell brand story with "tasteful" 150th anniversary celebrations

John Lewis to tell brand story with "tasteful" 150th anniversary celebrations

Department store John Lewis is to use its 150th anniversary this year to talk about its history, which "not enough people know about", according to director of communications Peter Cross.

Labour hires Obama election strategist David Axelrod to fight General Election

Labour hires Obama election strategist David Axelrod to fight General Election

The man who helped Barack Obama win the 2008 and 2012 US presidential elections is to work for Labour along with members of his team.

Sky adds Fever PR to its roster after splitting with Cake

Sky adds Fever PR to its roster after splitting with Cake

Pay-TV giant Sky has added Fever PR to its agency line-up for a wide-ranging brief covering products and services.

Max Clifford trial jury to continue deliberations after Easter break

Max Clifford trial jury to continue deliberations after Easter break

The jury in the trial of celebrity publicist Max Clifford has been sent home for Easter and will reconvene on Tuesday for further deliberations about its verdicts on 11 charges of indecent assault.

Home Office brings in Munro & Forster to campaign against FGM

Home Office brings in Munro & Forster to campaign against FGM

The Home Office has tasked Munro & Forster (M&F) with supporting its campaign to eradicate female genital mutilation (FGM) as part of a wider retained brief.