It’s not just the goofs and gaffes plaguing Ed Miliband and Labour at Westminster which are stopping the opposition’s recovery. It’s how Labour responds that needs improvement.

The week started with Labour guru Lord Glasman’s declaring in the New Statesman that Miliband has “no strategy and no narrative”. The turmoil continued with the leaking of Director of Communications Tom Baldwin’s memo, which insisted comparisons between Miliband with Iain Duncan Smith and Michael Howard are “well wide of the mark”.

Later in the week, Shadow Defence Secretary Jim Murphy’s acknowledged that Labour has to start accepting some of the coalition government’s cuts. Although no different from previous statements by Miliband and Ed Balls, Murphy’s comments were covered in the press as adding to the general sense of seams unravelling.

But these were dwarfed almost entirely by Twitterstorms. A race row caused by Diane Abbot’s sloppy tweeting, and a sloppy social media faux pas of Miliband’s own making: a ‘Blackbusters’ Freudian slip on his Twitter feed on the death of national treasure Bob Holness.

Separated out, none of the above clangers are life threatening to Labour. Memos leak, tweets are mistyped, Diane Abbot says nutty things, Glasman’s pronouncements are usually ignored and when Obama’s cutting defence by $450 billion in the next decade, Murphy agreeing to £5 billion is a start, rather than a stop.

But altogether, it feels like the Labour Party is stuck in a real-life episode of The Thick of It. The party’s solution to this, as ever, will be the inevitable relaunch in the next week or so.

Back in 2009, The Economist rightly identified the set-piece parliamentary announcement as one of the “few trustier gambits in the Brownite playbook”, because “these opportunities to set the terms of debate, and to stage carefully prepared appearances rather than have to think and communicate” entirely suited Brown.

And they did work when he was Chancellor, with set-ups like introducing the pre-budget report giving him the platform to continue his ascent against Blair. But as leader they didn’t work so well. In September 2008, a year after his election, Brown’s first relaunch of his leadership was announcing a mortgage rescue scheme to reverse the plummeting house market. It was scuppered by Chancellor Alistair Darling’s (correct) assessment the weekend prior that the British economy was at a 60 year low and getting worse.

Since Brown’s tenure, Labour Party positioning has felt like Bambi skating. It gets to the point where it’s just about standing up and keeping it together, when a wobble causes mis-step and collapse.

As Brown’s former advisor, Miliband too favours the use of the set-piece announcement whenever the Labour Party needs to stave off a crisis. Miliband’s bigger problem, unlike Brown, is that too many of his announcements are about the party, not about policy or governing or even opposition.

Since his election as leader, Miliband has announced scrapping elections to the Shadow Cabinet, loosening relationships with the unions, reinvigorating annual conference and allowing ‘registered supporters’ to participate in internal elections as attempts to stamp his authority on the party. None have given Miliband his desired Clause 4 moment and is leading to a policy vacuum with the public.

So next week Miliband needs to make sure his recovery announcement trailed in today’s Guardian, on how the Labour Party will look beyond redistribution of wealth as the means to a fair society, is an announcement very much about policy, and not about party.

Unlike Scottish Labour at Holyrood, where much deeper reforms are needed to combat the malaise, what will make Labour electable in terms of Westminster isn’t how reformed the party’s internal structures are, but policy, popularity and proper opposition.

In another week, Murphy’s comments on defence spending would’ve worked; positioning Labour towards all three of the necessary strands for electability. Speaking this week, Murphy said:

“There is a difference between populism and popularity. Credibility is the bridge away from populism and towards popularity. It is difficult to sustain popularity without genuine credibility. At a time on defence when the government is neither credible nor popular it is compulsory that Labour is both.”

Policy that acknowledges to tackle the fiscal deficit will need some cuts – they just should be the right ones, like cuts in defence spending, that don’t harm the vulnerable in society. Popularity in finding a position which most of the electorate also share. Proper opposition by getting the first two right and giving the foundation to properly take on the coalition government.

Behind all the goofs and gaffes, the rest of the Labour Party does seem to be getting on with this strategy – Gregg McClymont MP’s Cameron’s Trap pamphlet launched between Christmas and New Year indicates a strong awareness of the need to get the position with the public right, rather than worrying about party structures. Let’s just see if the Leader of the Opposition can start to talk policy, over party, without slipping again.