UK & World News

  • 23 May 2014, 14:35

Voters Brand Miliband 'Weird' In Election Blow

Ed Miliband was left fighting to salvage his public image after a disappointing performance in the local elections which saw members of his own party turn on his leadership.

The Labour leader was accused of being in urgent need of an overhaul after a series of blunders ahead of Thursday's vote, which saw unflattering pictures of him eating a bacon sandwich and him giving a wild underestimate of the cost of a family shop in interview.

In a further blow a poll found nearly half of voters considered Mr Miliband to be "weird" and the most likely leader to have been bullied at school.

The party failed to make the gains it should have done, leaving it far short of the number of seats it was expected to win to put it in a good position for the 2015 General Election.

As the results emerged, Mr Miliband was attacked by members of his own party for running a lacklustre campaign.

Labour MP Graham Stringer told Sky News: "Ed's behind in the personality stakes. We can sharpen up his presentation but we are also behind on economic policy. No party in opposition has evern won when they are behind in the opinion polls on both personality of the leader and economic policy.

"The team round him  haven't been good enough, the basic organisation of the campaign has been poor both in what message has been delivered and how it has been organised."

Labour veteran Tessa Jowell said: "If you are a politician ... don't eat a bacon buttie when the world's cameras are on you, quite frankly."

She said he had been caught out on the price of the weekly shop "presumably because Justine, his wife, does the shopping".

Charles Lewington, Sir John Major's  former press secretary, said one of Mr Miliband's problem was that he "looks like Wallace from Wallace and Gromit".

A poll by YouGov for BuzzFeed found 41% of people found the Labour leader "weird", which compared with just 34% of the 1,942 people questioned feeling the same way about Nick Clegg and 27% thinking David Cameron strange. It also found 36% thought Mr Miliband would have been bullied at school.

However, when quizzed on his performance and the way Labour had conducted itself, Mr Miliband said: "I think we ran a good campaign."

He said: "I think in some parts of the country we have had discontent building up for decades about the way the country has been run and about the way our economy works and people feeling that the country just does not work for them and so what you are seeing in some parts of the country is people turning to UKIP as an expression of that discontent and that desire for change."

Sky's election analyst Michael Thrasher said the numbers were well short of the sort of surge Ed Miliband needs to sweep him into Downing Street when the General Election takes place in a year's time.

Pollsters suggested Labour should look to gain between 300 and 500 seats, with the party predicting 200, but were falling well short.

Mick Temple, professor of journalism and politics at Staffordshire University, said on these results Labour were not likely to secure a majority in 2015. He said the party's politicians had told him privately that they were frustrated with Mr Miliband's leadership.

He simply isn't a bloke most of us would want to share a pint with, he argued, while Mr Cameron and certainly Nigel Farage might be.

Labour's enjoyed more success in London where UKIP are less of a threat, taking Hammersmith from the Conservatives, however, the party cannot win an election in the capital alone.

For the latest results from around the country as they come in follow Sky's live election blog.

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