Is visibility always the problem when you are opposition leader?
On the face of it yesterday was a pretty bad news day for the coalition. There was Boris and “call me Dave” having their huge public spat over housing benefit, a suggestion that the child benefit move for higher rate tax-payers might be a lot harder to achieve than was first thought, and the PM fighting a tough battle in the EU.
Yet the main story about the opposition leader was that William Hill have opened a number of betting markets on Ed Miliband’s new family addition due in November.
It’s almost the same day in day out for the man who only became Labour’s leader five weeks ago. Getting the attention of the news media is proving to be something of a challenge. Yes he gets a bit of national coverage each week at PMQs but apart from that it’s quite a struggle.
For the big political story of the moment, the cuts and all their ramifications, doesn’t involve Labour very much, if at all. The dissension and news interest is confined to coalition ranks alone – witness Simon Hughes and Boris on housing benefit.
If it’s any consolation it was ever thus for opposition leaders. Just remember those three months after Gordon Brown became PM at the end of June 2007. Cameron barely got a look in until his party conference in the October where the broadcasters give guaranteed coverage.
If the parliament does run its full course and the election is in May 2015 then EdM will have been at the helm for 56 months. That’s two and a half months longer than Cameron from 2005 and a very long time.
At the end of the day opposition leaders can only call for things or comment -governments can do and the latter is where the news interest usually lies.