A TV interview with Ed Miliband over last Thursday's public sector strikes, in which he gave the same answer over and over, has once again raised questions about his ability to lead the Labour Party. We all know that it was Trade Union votes that handed him the job over his brother David, so he was bound to walk a tightrope between being less than enthusiastic over the strike action, but without condemning the Unions, but his mechanical replies to questions were an embarrassment for a Leader of the Opposition.
What he displayed was not leadership, but a reminder of his debt to the Trade Unions and a throwback to the days when Labour was paralysed by them. His reply showed a total inability to respond to real events, other than repeat over-and-over a prepared mantra.
Who would take over from him? There was a piece in the Mail On Sunday that suggested senior figures in the party had approached James Purnell to seek re-election as an MP, as the first stage in a battle for the leadership. But after his failed attempt to overthrow Gordon Brown, another move by him to embarrass the leadership would get short shift from the rank and file.
Of course, Mr Miliband has to be careful not to be seen to be siding too strongly with the Coalition government over the strikes. In truth, Labour too would have had to tackle public sector pension funding had it remained in power and is probably happy that the current government is there instead to do the job for them.
Gordon Brown did much damage to private pension funds when Chancellor and those in such schemes are paying the price, with higher contributions and lower returns. So it is no wonder that the general public is somewhat lukewarm over paying more money in taxes to allow the public sector continue to enjoy enhanced pensions unavailable to the rest of us.
Many of us were inconvenienced by the Thursday strike, which in the current climate was seen by the majority of the general public as self-serving rather than a fair protest. It is not in the interest of the Labour Party to take the strikers side and that is the reason why Ed Miliband responded as he did in the interview.