I know many readers are eagerly anticipating the results of the 100 worst UK political blogs. Unfortunately I must ask for your continued forbearance: they won't be appearing until this evening. In the mean time here's another guest post from Brother G on Ed Miliband. For the record, Ed will be receiving my second preference.
I had hoped to make it through the Labour leadership contest without making one of these posts. After all, the prospect of four months of witnessing the candidates talk vaguely about change in a variety of venues has proved tedious enough without the rest of us throwing an oar in.
But with ballots about to start arriving in letterboxes, and with the frankly terrifying prospect of a David Miliband win continuing to haunt the contest like a resilient case of the clap, I think its important that I try to add something, anything, to the debate in the hope of preventing that from happening.
So here it is: I believe that Ed Miliband is the best choice to lead the Labour Party in the coming period.
It might seem strange that a self-confessed socialist writing for a popular former-Trotskyist-turned-shameless-class-traitor blog such as this (revolutionary purists despair) would be declaring their support for one of the Miliband brothers over the alleged Left candidate Dianne Abbott. But the truth is that from her inauspicious start preventing John McDonnell making it onto the ballot, to her lacklustre campaigning, through to her insistence on pigeon-holing herself as little more than the token candidate, I have been nothing but disappointed with Abbott’s role in this contest. If the left is to prove itself a legitimate presence within the Labour Party in the near future, it would do well to turn the page on this ‘turn the page’ candidate before she manages to develop into a figurehead.
In Ed Miliband, we have an opportunity to renew the Labour Party in a way which puts our values at the heart of our movement. While his elder brother (by accident or by design) exemplifies all the most odious elements of the New Labour era: the wealthy sponsors, the pandering to right-wing rhetoric about the deficit, the stale and disproven obsession with chasing an imaginary Middle England, his younger brother has instead cast himself as the Miliband with his finger on the social democratic pulse.
Ed M has been insightful in his acknowledgement that it was traditional working class support, not the aspiring middle class, that left Labour in their droves. And while his program lacks the radicalism that those of us on the left would like, it nevertheless marks a clear path through the broad church which can appeal to the majority of party members, and to the public.
Policies such as lowering the 50% tax threshold to £100,000 and introducing a living wage are steps in the right direction. His stance on civil liberties is a refreshing break from the worst elements of Labour’s authoritarian past. And the introduction of a graduate tax, votes at 16 and support for AV look set to strengthen the Labour vote amongst students and young people. But more important than all of these is the shift in the nature and tone of inter-party debate that an Ed Miliband victory could herald. As he himself put it, New Labour often saw its job as being to defend the public against its own members. If the Labour Movement is going to grow and develop in the coming years, such hostility must end.
I believe that an Ed Miliband victory could herald the start of a process of renewal within the Labour Party which can develop an effective social democratic program, heal the divisions of the past 15 years and put the final nail in the New Labour coffin. And if the war criminals and prima donnas desperately scrabbling to intervene on David Miliband’s behalf tell us anything, its that they are worried about exactly the same thing.
That is why, with mix of cautious optimism and cold pragmatism, I will be voting Ed Miliband as my first preference.
(For those of you who are curious, my second preference will be going to Ed Balls, in the hope that his first act as Shadow Chancellor will be to dash Osborne’s skull open on the dispatch box while reciting Keynes’ General Theory of Employment.)