I’ve got my media hat back on this week, after watching the Labour backbenchers properly fired up at PMQs, as Ed Miliband listed the Tory promises at the last election and our MPs chanted “broken” to every item on the list.
I wrote a piece a couple of weeks ago, calling for them to shout Cameron down, after he made the mistake of accusing Labour people of being nasty. It’s worth revisiting that clip and analysing it in a little more detail before I continue my point about the lack of confidence of the PLP.
When you hear the chant begin, see Nick Clegg lean around Cameron to look at where it’s coming from. However, when Cameron realises something’s happening, he looks toward the Labour benches, and with that, Labour MPs fall silent, and Cameron recovers his composure.
This is the power and the authority he has over them. David Cameron can silence the entire Parliamentary Labour Party simply by casting an eye in their direction. How shameful. David Cameron; the Tory leader whose A-List of selection candidates excludes 90% of the MPs behind him. The PLP cowers in his presence. The PLP need to better understand their role at Prime Minister’s Questions.
You are not there as innocent bystanders to cast judgement on Ed Miliband; you are there to fire him up, and that includes the bad days, as well as the good. Right now, Ed is delivering, but what about on the days when he’s not? Are we going to see our MPs cowering on the back benches, frightened in case David Cameron thinks they are not being sufficiently respectful towards him? When we, the grass roots, lose an election, we don’t cower; we go home and get a good night’s sleep, then the next day, we’re back, ready for the next fight.
I’m not saying that we have no analysis; of course we do, but we don’t focus our minds on the negative, because we are not a bunch of losers. If we were thinking like victims; if we were frightened of the Tories, then I can guarantee that you lot would not be MPs anymore, because you would never get elected.
Imagine a great rock band, let’s say The Who, on stage at a major concert. Roger Daltrey is tired and he’s had some bad news, so he simply hasn’t got his mind on his performance. Does Pete Townsend also get depressed and not play with the energy we’ve come to expect? Would Keith Moon tap his drums with no passion, because Roger isn’t leading him well?
No! Absolutely not! That band behind Roger Daltrey would play with double passion and energy, because they know that they have to inspire Daltrey to come out of his depression. And you know what? It would work. With that sound coming out of them speakers, Roger Daltrey would find his energy and forget his problems and give the concert of his life. This is what the Labour leader needs from the backbenchers at Prime Minister’s Questions.
So when you, as MPs, walk into that chamber at the next PMQs, and you hear that voice in your head asking, “Will Ed do well today?” Correct yourself! The question you should be asking is, “Will I do well? Will I do my job of encouraging Ed? Will I… will we fire him up and give him the Labour Party spirit that will down these Tories, so easily, when it’s energised?”
If you’re in the lobby before PMQs and you hear Labour MPs questioning whether Ed’s going to deliver today, you tell them that they’re the ones expected to deliver. Tell them that they were selected by their Labour Party members to go in that chamber and cheer on that Labour leader, as if the World Cup depended on it.
And on those days when everything’s going against us, when it seems like we just can’t win, remember this one fact that will always give Ed Miliband an advantage over this particularly nasty Tory leader. Remember that no matter how much you hate David Cameron and everything he stands for, it is nothing compared to how much his own backbenchers hate him.