Ed is having a relatively good week, with more amusement and less despair. Labour staffers however are decrying that the Shadow Cabinet is out of control and rudderless. Douglas Alexander’s “Labour must do more to be credible on economy” Observer interview last Sunday came at as surprise. Jim Murphy going rogue had to be patched up as “part of the strategy”, while it’s accepted that Liam Byrne is spending his days briefing the Telegraph. Peter Hain even had time to write his memoirs while supposedly preparing to form a government.
This lack of authority in Shadow Cabinet is trickling down to the backbenchers, not least the most important Labour backbencher of them all – David Miliband. There is growing frustration amongst Labour whips that David is simply ignoring direct orders on voting. He’s said he will not be dictated to, and he will decide when he is needed. Take today for example; instead of being in Westminster David is peacocking at the Cambridge Union; and the voting data from Public Whip is very telling. Since the election David has voted in just 186 votes out of a possible 444. Less than half and well below average.
The insubordination is spreading. Labour sources indicate that the likes of Ben Bradshaw and Shaun Woodward are particularly good at not hanging around for late votes or simply not bothering to turn up. Junkets are up, and attendance is down. The mood among the old guard can be summed up as “if the brother can ‘eff off to China, why can’t we?”