Ed Miliband under attack over his image, style and message
Ed Miliband under attack over his image, style and message Reuters

In an opinion poll published in Tuesday's Independent, the Tories have overtaken Labour for the first time since October 2010.

A ComRes poll puts the Conservative Party at 37 per cent, Labour 36 per cent and the Liberal Democrats 12 per cent. It is the latest humiliation for Ed Miliband and comes just hours before his keynote speech to the party. With Miliband at the head of the party Labour are unelectable. Remember, this is the man who helped draft the 2010 Labour manifesto. In his first year as leader, Miliband has shown he is not up to the job of shaping his party and his own image as the credible alternative.

The ComRes poll will alarm senior members of the Labour Party. The coalition government, led by David Cameron, has brought in a policy of savage cuts that are hurting lower-income families and small businesses. The coalition have not been as tough on the bankers as George Osborne said they would be, and the country is set to experience the most disruptive set of public sector strikes since the 1980s. With all this in mind, the Conservative Party still are favoured ahead of the Labour Party. Clearly the message is not getting across and Miliband's position as leader has become untenable.

Miliband may have only been leader of the opposition for one year but now is the time for Labour to choose a candidate who can unite the party as well as move on from defeat in 2010. Clearly, Miliband is not the man to do this. His own personal ratings will worry Labour supporters with only 24 per cent of the ComRes poll viewing him as a credible prime minster in waiting; 57 per cent disagreed. Even worse for Miliband will be the fact that in the same poll of those who would vote Labour, a third of people do not view him as a credible premier.

In the context of the deep economic crisis, riots on the streets of England and anger at the savagery of the cuts, the Labour leader can only poll figures like these? The public want an alternative, but the alternative does not have a position on the main issues that affect people day in day out. David Cameron has a plan; Ed Miliband does not. David Cameron is a statesman, Ed Miliband is not. David Cameron united his party, Ed Miliband has not.

Today Miliband has a chance to show the Labour conference in Liverpool that he is the man to lead the party. In his keynote speech, he will call for changes in the welfare system and how businesses are run, but will offer no further policy announcements, the BBC reports.

Miliband must unite the party at the conference and so far has done little but alienate a section of it. The Labour Party came into the conference with a spring in their step, but will leave a confused party. The constant apologies from Miliband and shadow chancellor Ed Balls have angered supporters of Tony Blair who believe that 13 years of good work is being destroyed at this conference.

Miliband also must unite Labour with the tax initiative that he will announce later Tuesday, giving tax incentives to companies that make contributions to the economy, in a bid to drive support from business leaders.

"Let me tell you what the 21st century choice is: are you on the side of the wealth creators or the asset strippers?" Miliband is scheduled to say.

"For years as a country, we have been neutral in that battle; they've been taxed the same, regulated the same, treated the same, celebrated the same. They won't be by me."

He will also float the idea -- already being piloted by two Labour councils, Manchester and Newham in London -- that people who make a contribution to the local community will be allowed to jump housing queues.

"When we have a housing shortage choices have to be made," he will say. "Do we treat the person who contributes to their community the same as the person who doesn't? My answer is no. Our first duty should be to help the person who shows responsibility."