I am, like many Labour supporters of the time, still scarred by the defeat of 1992 (and 1987 if it comes to that), when, despite long periods of the party being ahead in the polls, the electorate just would not elect a party led by Neil Kinnock.
There are obvious similarities between how Kinnock and Miliband come across, but the entire political landscape couldn't now be any more different to then. There is a world of difference with the polls when you compare now and 1992, which I list below to cheer you up
Poll companies have accepted that they got a lot wrong back then and they've changed the way they report their findings now. They used to over represent the Labour position by not including the Don't Knows, many of whom ended up voting Tory. There are many myths surrounding the 1992 election like the Sheffield Rally, Jennifer's Ear, Labour's taxes and the sun's front page, but Shy Tory Factor remains the main reason for the unexpected result.
The main changes, therefore, concern how the pollsters deal with Shy Tory Factor and those people who don't know who they will vote for are now marked down as intending to vote for who they voted for last time. After an election like 2010 when the Tories won the vote convincingly, it stands to reason that the polls will subsequently over represent the Tory position.
Four-party politics results in leads being smaller, and voters don't tend to switch in between the two main parties now so swings are more modest and leads harder to narrow. The papers got excited in September 2013 when the Tories finally drew level in a YouGov poll for the first time in nearly two years, and eight months later they still haven't taken the lead in that company's polls despite there being five a week. The polls have narrowed in the last 18 months, but it's been glacial.
In 1992 there were no pollsters like Ashcroft who could publish findings on the key marginals and it's in these areas where elections are won and lost. Had there been so, Labour may never have been favourites in 1992, although we'll never know, but Labour are currently killing it in the marginals with a 12pt lead, and there are going to have to be some sensational changes in the next 11 months for the Tories to win. Scotland voting for independence would help!
In 1992 when the polls started to narrow it was partly because the Tory vote was increasing and partly because the Labour vote was decreasing. But this time the Tory vote isn't increasing at all - it's just that some of the Labour vote has gone in the last month to UKIP and 'Other', mainly the Greens. The Green vote will revert back, but even if we assume the UKIP vote doesn't, it is very unlikely that UKIP can hurt Labour in a General Election like they did in the Locals or the Europeans or like they will hurt the Tories. They ate into the Labour vote in Sunderland, Rotherham and Doncaster, to give three examples, but they cannot cost Labour MPs in those areas in 2015, either by winning the seats themselves or by helping another party win them. They'll win 0-5 seats themselves, but they'll hand Labour scores of marginals by taking votes off the Tories. It won't work the other way around in the north because the figures just don't add up.
The Left is now completely united with the Lib Dems on the floor and 2m of their voters intending to vote Labour in GE2015, so they cannot hurt Labour like the SDP or Alliance used to do. The reality for Kinnock is that he couldn't win with the Left split and the Right united with no competition for the Tories.
To sum up, Ed in Downing Street is more likely to happen than not. For reasons I've stated in earlier posts, the Tories cannot win a majority and they won't win one for years. The best they can hope for is an enormous swing in the marginals and another hung parliament, but it'll take a lot more than Ed's 'weirdness' and UKIP winning votes in the north for them to achieve this.