Ed Miliband has suffered yet another blow, with an Ipsos Mori poll showing that just 13 per cent of the public think he is ready to be prime minister.
Labour is down four points since October to just 29 per cent, while the Conservatives are up two points to 32. It marks the biggest Tory lead for four years.
It is worth remembering that this is on the eve of an almost certain Conservative defeat in Rochester (waving goodbye to a 10,000 majority) and just weeks after an obliteration at the Clacton by-election. On top of this the Tory party is producing an increasing number of rebels, is locked in a raging battle over Europe and faces huge criticism on all sides over the lack of a specific vote on the European Arrest Warrant on Monday night.
Although the threat of a coup to replace Mr Miliband has now subsided there is clearly a crisis of confidence in his leadership.
Tony Blair has told friends that the Conservative party will win the next election because of Ed Miliband’s failure to connect with voters.
Earlier this week, David Lammy, the former Labour minister, who hopes to be Labour’s candidate for London Mayor noted that he thinks it is impossible for his party to win a majority. He talked about Labour’s failures since the 2010 election and refused to back Mr Miliband.
Even the eternally Labour-supporting New Statesman, which had been almost alone in supporting Ed Miliband for the leadership against his brother David in 2010 has turned on him. Editor Jason Cowley wrote: “Miliband is very much an old-style Hampstead socialist. He doesn’t really understand the lower-middle class or material aspiration. He doesn’t understand Essex Man or Woman.“
Ed Miliband cannot relate to many traditional Labour supporters. Nor eat a bacon sandwich competently. But at the root of Labour’s problems is something far greater. It is an inability to persuade Britain that it can do a better job than the Conservatives in tackling the Government’s deficit and improving people’s lives.
It was Labour that doubled the national debt to over £1 trillion and who increased public spending between 1997 and 2010 faster than any other country on earth. Under Labour unemployment increased by over 440,000 and public sector productivity tumbled by 4 per cent.
These things are not easily forgotten. But Labour has failed to restore people’s trust in the party. And it has failed to convince them that it is ready to govern again.