Bill Carmichael: Hypocrisy of Miliband’s Labour critics

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WHO would be a politician, eh? One bad day at the office and your formerly loyal colleagues are sharpening their knives ready to stab you in the back.

To be fair though, Ed Miliband didn’t just experience one bad day, but rather four years’ worth of bad or indifferent days that have left the country unconvinced that he be an effective prime minister come next May.

The tipping point seems to be his disastrous conference speech where he admitted wandering about on Hampstead Heath desperately trying to find “ordinary” people to talk to, but managed to “forget” to mention immigration or the deficit.

In the wake of that calamity, and the sharp contrast of David Cameron’s solid performance at the Conservative conference, the polls began to move against Miliband and Labour.

Their once impregnable lead has now vanished and Cameron and the Tories are also streets ahead in the polls when it comes to the economy and the credibility of the two leaders.

Politicians are a fickle – and often vicious – lot and no sooner had the polls emerged than the whispering against Miliband’s leadership became a deafening chorus.

I don’t think I’ve read a news story on the Labour leadership over recent days without some anonymous source – usually a “Shadow Cabinet Minister” or “senior party source” – quoted as saying that Miliband is effectively finished.

The bookies are even offering odds on the possible runners and riders lined up to replace him, although all the main contenders, from Alan Johnson, Yvette Cooper, Andy Burnham and Chuka Umunna have all dismissed stories of a possible coup.

This is all so cruel it is impossible not to feel some sympathy for beleaguered Ed, although he is no stranger to the rough and tumble of political infighting.

But the sheer hypocrisy stinks. Many of those criticising Miliband now are the same people who urged him to turn sharp left to differentiate himself from the Blair/Brown years.

Miliband duly obliged with plans for higher taxes and more spending, and now he is getting a kicking from some of same people who suggested the strategy in the first place!

I can’t imagine that Labour will really ditch its leader with seven months to go to the election. I reckon they are stuck with what they have got. And who is to say that Miliband won’t sneak into Downing Street by the back door?

The electoral system is so distorted against the Conservatives that Labour may gain power with little over 30 per cent of the national vote.

And if you think Miliband made a shambles of delivering a conference speech, just wait to see what he does when he has the chance to run the country.

Euro misery

Extra-large helpings of humble pie are on the menu at the International Monetary Fund which has spectacularly got its forecasts wrong in recent years.

In 2013 the IMF’s chief economist Oliver Blanchard severely criticised the UK’s austerity policy and said Chancellor George Osborne was “playing with fire”.

The conventional wisdom among left wing economists at the time was that the UK should follow socialist France’s lead and cut back on austerity and increase spending and borrowing in order to boost demand.

Osborne ignored that advice and since then the UK’s economy has taken off like a rocket. The IMF has had to upgrade the UK’s growth forecast four times in a row, and this week Blanchard was forced to admit that booming Britain is growing faster than any other G7 nation, expanding by 3.2 per cent this year and 2.7 per cent next year.

Meanwhile the Eurozone, including that socialist paragon France and the normally dynamic Germany, is in deep trouble.

The IMF now says there is a 40 per cent chance of a triple dip recession in the Eurozone. Mighty Germany is on the brink of a recession; debt-ridden and over-regulated France is stagnating. Southern Europe will never emerge from the grip of austerity while the tyranny of the euro rules. Unemployment is high, lives are ruined, businesses destroyed.

Thank God we didn’t follow Blanchard’s advice. But before we get too cocky don’t forget – we are still handcuffed to the rotting corpse of the EU and it could drag us under at any moment.