Danny Rogers: Can team changes revitalise Miliband?

The most recent political opinion polls show the Conservatives and Labour neck and neck, with the Tories just slightly ahead.

Danny Rogers: Can team changes revitalise Miliband?
Danny Rogers: Can team changes revitalise Miliband?

This seems rather unremarkable until one considers the context.

Our country looks like plunging back into recession and entering a longer period of falling living standards; unemployment is the highest for 15 years; and the Prime Minister is locked in a damaging row with the rest of Europe. Why is Labour not significantly ahead in the mid-term polls?

Part of the answer lies in an increasingly globalised public consensus. Myriad 24-hour news outlets and socialised media mean we are now so well informed about the international politico-economic context that we may be less harsh on our national governments.

Part of the answer can also be found in the poor comms performance of the opposition. Despite upward blips - such as his insight into dwindling societal responsibility during the hackgate crisis - Ed Miliband has thus far failed to win the hearts and minds of the British people. PRWeek today reveals changes within the Labour comms team, which is simply not cutting through with consistently powerful messages.

Sporadically, Miliband sounds impressive in Parliament and strikes a chord with the man on the street. But Miliband, and his party, still lack a coherent view on the austerity programme, on an optimistic vision for Britain, and on the wider crisis facing post-war capitalism.

I have talked much here recently about the leadership crisis affecting business, politics and economics across Europe. It is a major opportunity for those currently in positions of power, but it does demand authenticity and bravery from those individuals, combined with highly professional comms strategies and tactical advice.

The final reason for Labour's unimpressive ratings is the nous of the administration in power. As a former government comms chief said to me recently: 'David Cameron may not be a great Prime Minister, but he looks like one.'

This is to the credit of Cameron and his top team. When Andy Coulson made his inauspicious departure from Downing Street, the largely unknown incoming comms director Craig Oliver took on a tough gig. But the ship was steadied - with the guidance of chief strategist Steve Hilton - and is sailing surprisingly skilfully through extremely choppy waters.

For the time being, it is Labour and the Liberal Democrats who urgently need to raise their game. They are failing to communicate the basic leadership that the public rightly demands.

Also read: 'Labour to shake up comms roles to fight antipathy towards Ed Miliband'

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