Labour is ahead in the polls. But not by that much. Instead of being something to celebrate, that lame poll lead hangs like a cloud over Ed Miliband’s leadership.
He should be romping ahead, scoring points at will and cashing in on David Cameron’s misfortunes, regular policy U-turns and inactivity.
That is the problem for Labour and for Mr Miliband – that he, the party leader, is the problem and not the solution.
In the House of Commons, he is largely ineffective and cannot think on his feet. In policy-making and direction, his is an unsure touch. In public image, there is, to put it mildly, room for improvement.
Invoking his comprehensive school roots in his big conference speech today smacks of a desperate attempt to portray himself as one of us, one of the ordinary people of Britain, as opposed to the posh political elite which has occupied all the high offices in the current generation.
Were there a credible leader in the wings, the knives would be glistening behind Mr Miliband’s back.
He is lucky that there is no obvious candidate. Ed Balls continues to put off voters and is tainted by his deep association with Labour’s failures in office. Andy Burnham comes across as a meek boy in a man’s world. Harriet Harman is not only yesterday’s woman but voter poison with her right-on credentials which do not go down well with the folk of middle England.
There is another name in the wings. He has experience and proven capability. He has many admirers both in the Parliamentary party and at grass roots level.
His name is Miliband. David Miliband. And he has served his term in exile.
In the battle of the Miliband brothers, Ed moved a point ahead by becoming Labour leader.
Unless Ed sharpens up his act, do not rule out Dave getting even.