Summer of discontent: Miliband’s leadership stalls again
Ed Miliband's summer leadership crisis intensified again this weekend, with weak polling numbers underlining a double whammy of personal attacks from senior figures in the party.
The Labour leader has been facing another period of unwanted pressure over the silly season ever since shadow health secretary Andy Burnham suggested the party needed to "shout louder" to win over voters.
Now John Prescott has declared Labour "massively failed" to get its message across to voters this summer.
The New Labour lynchpin used an article in the Sunday Mirror newspaper to call on Miliband to give shadow Cabinet members not pulling their weight "the hairdryer treatment and kick 'em out".
But it is Miliband rather than Burnham and his colleagues who will be most concerned by Prescott's intervention.
"Radical change is now required to shape up the policy of organisation and delivery alongside a clear set of policies and principles so people know what we stand for," he argued.
Today's polling data from ComRes for the Independent on Sunday and the Sunday Mirror saw just 22% agreeing Miliband is turning out to be a good leader of the Labour party, down from 31% in May.
Exactly half of respondents to the polling firm's research disagreed, up from 42%. His net rating of -28% is only one point shy of David Cameron's worst ever rating of -27%, however.
Shadow energy secretary Caroline Flint sought to play down the importance of such polls in an interview with the Observer. Her comments are being interpreted by some as a missed opportunity to praise Miliband's leadership.
"Individual popularity poll ratings are always given prominence, but the truth is that, when it comes to the election, that's not always a significant factor," she said.
"Think back to Labour leaders in the past who were popular but couldn't win elections. Margaret Thatcher was unpopular but won elections. Sometimes these things are overplayed."
Miliband faces a more overt attack from the founder of Blue Labour, Maurice Glasman, who was ennobled following a recommendation from his party leader.
Writing for the Mail on Sunday, he said Miliband had "not followed his instincts" to attack predator capitalists.
"At the very time when Labour should be showing the way ahead, it gives the impression of not knowing which way to turn," Glasman wrote.
"When the Labour battle bus should be revving up, it is parked in a lay-by of introspection.
"It is a time for Ed Miliband to show he is a grown-up politician big enough to lead this country. There is an open goal here for Labour. But if we are going to start scoring and winning, then Labour must learn to be a partner and friend to the good once more."
Open dissent from within the Labour party is bad news for Miliband as it weakens his position in an even bigger standoff – the party funding clash which will decide the future power balance between unions and Labour.
Initial statements of support from some general secretaries have disguised union hostility to any major changes, with tensions likely to dominate the party's looming autumn conference in Brighton.