Steve Kean/Ed Miliband: the similarities are striking
As any football fan knows: losing the supporters can be tolerated. It’s when you lose the dressing room that the sack looms
It’s been a tough start to the new season.
Polls show that the fans aren’t on side and now high-profile colleagues are taking to the papers to slander what good work he’s done.
There can be no argument, Ed Miliband is in a hole.
The same could also be said of Steve Kean (beleaguered manager of Blackburn Rovers) …although his team did claim a famous win at Old Trafford over the Christmas period, so perhaps even he is currently feeling sorry for Ed.
While politics and football shouldn’t normally mix (witness David Mellor in a Chelsea scarf or a perma-grinned Tony Blair playing head tennis with Kevin Keegan) – the parallels between managing a Premiership football club and leading a political party are more compelling than one might think.
Smoothly and delicately manage a team of big personalities on whom your success as a leader will be judged: check. Engage in serious and hard work throughout the week but ultimately get judged on one performance in front of the cameras every seven days: check. Look good in sportswear…ahem
Like Steve Kean, Ed Miliband is not the fans’ choice. Installed by faceless back-room masters, he has struggled to win over the long-term supporters. Brief wins (phone hacking – beating Arsenal 4-3) have been followed up with miserable defeats (the EU response – losing 2-1 at home to Bolton).
But while Steve has had to face the ignominy of a stadium full of supporters chanting for his sacking each week, Ed has received his weekly job report from the opinion polls – the latest one coming on Monday courtesy of LabourList – a home fans website that is usually onside.
Today things have taken a turn for the worse for Ed with Lord Glasman’s intervention – the political equivalent of when Kean’s former mentor, Sam Allardyce, told the papers that Steve wasn’t up to the job.
But it’s not yet fatal – as any football fan knows, managers can take personal attacks from fans, former players, greats of the game and even past leaders – it’s when they lose the dressing room that the chop can only be round the corner.
The ousting of Thatcher, the quiet removal of IDS, even the Brown aborted coup – each was started from within the ranks and the occupant of the big chair was gone a few months later.
Ed is safe for the moment. But if the Shadow Cabinet begins to question his leadership, then it’s time to start looking over his shoulder.
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