Ed Miliband’s route to 10 Downing Street may hinge on the performance of Ukip, says Professor Tim Bale

The fortunes of Ed Miliband and the Labour Party may well depend on the performance of Ukip on 7 May, according to Professor Tim Bale, who was speaking at the launch of his new book: Five Year Mission – The Labour Party under Ed Miliband.

25 March 2015

“It is still entirely possible that Ed Miliband will be prime minister. One thing that we have to look at between now and election day is the performance of Ukip. If Ukip begins to seriously lose support, in the way that I think the greens will lose support, then that could scupper Miliband’s chances.

“If Ukip doesn’t damage the Conservative vote…then Labour is in trouble. If on the other hand Ukip polls anything near 10 per cent, then Labour and Ed Miliband are in with a very good chance.”

Professor Bale made his remarks in front of an audience at the Mile End Institute, Queen Mary University of London - where he was interviewed by the Observer's award-winning chief political commentator, Andrew Rawnsley.

On the question of whether Ed Miliband is “up to the job”, Professor Bale said that while perceptions of his abilities are poor, he does possess much of the experience and many of the skills required for the role.

“He’s got something going for him in the sense that he’s experienced, he’s been a Cabinet Minister and he knows how things work. The party are doing a lot of preparation at the moment in terms of process and transition. He’s also a reasonably good manager of people, which would certainly help him in terms of coalition negotiations or in the event of a minority government.

“On the negative side people say he that he is not at all decisive. There must be a grain of truth in that because so many people say it. Then again, those people who’ve worked with him say that one of the reasons that colleagues and civil servants describe him as indecisive is because he is prepared to ask questions of the options given to him.”

On the question of the debates, Professor Bale said that Miliband can only exceed expectations of him, which is why the Conservatives have been so reluctant to engage.

“Impressions of Ed Miliband are so low, and public perception of him is so poor, that they almost couldn’t be borne out in reality in a TV studio.”

Professor Bale’s book is published by Oxford University Press and is available from all good bookshops and the Amazon Kindle store.

About Professor Tim Bale

Tim Bale is a professor of political science at Queen Mary University London. He is the author of The Conservative Party from Thatcher to Cameron and The Conservatives since 1945: the Drivers of Party Change as well as European Politics: A Comparative Introduction. He tweets @ProfTimBale

Praise for Five Year Mission

"The book is a must read for all those who want to understand what a Miliband led government might be like." (Steve Richards, Independent)

"A superb overview of the past five years of Labour's history, offering an unequalled sense of perspective on Ed Miliband's ambiguous record as Leader of the Opposition This book will be the starting point for all future historians." (John Rentoul, Independent on Sunday)

"Bale's command of policy, personality and their inter-action is exemplary. A superb book." (Matthew d’Ancona, columnist, The Guardian and Evening Standard)