Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Ed Miliband's Conference Speech

Not one but *two* five-year plans? Ambitious targets? An 80 minute monologue with anecdotes about meeting ordinary people? Forget Red Ed. Today we saw the debut of Kim Jong-Mil. Yeah, yeah, lame. But Ed Miliband's speech was interesting, and not because for what went unsaid. The mild social democracy was there - the 25p/hour minimum wage uprating until 2020; jobless, housing, first time buyer, apprenticeship targets, votes for 16 and 17 year olds and the property speculation mansion tax to raise £1.2bn for thousands more GPs, nurses and careworkers. And, by the standards of British politics, a radical plan to completely decarbonise the economy by 2030. Good stuff. After the austere miserablism of yesterday's Ed Balls speech, it fell to the leader to set out the nicer things. As it should be.

Labour should go much further and offer more. Even within the limits the leadership have set themselves, there is considerable scope for delivering a stronger programme of social democracy and remaining fiscally neutral. Still, as it stands the policy agenda we've got is much better than the electoral anaemia served up by the 2010 manifesto. It's a definite improvement on the social neoliberalism of the Blair/Brown years. That doesn't mean some progressive policies aren't half-arsed. There are a clutch of proposals directly against the interests of our class and movement too. According to Westminster received wisdom, the bitter mix of the okay and the awful is the cocktail swing voters in marginal constituencies enjoy sipping, apparently. Still, on the two crucial measures - the greatest gain for the greatest number; whether more opportunities for further socialist advance will be opened up - on both counts Labour policies have a clear edge over the Tories' demented little Englandism.

To use the abysmal term Ed's speech was no "game-changer". Life under Labour will be less worse. It's an improvement but, good grief, we can aspire to be better than this.


Alex Dawson said...

I've not made a secret of this, but I am seriously underwhelmed at present and I do not look forward to the next election.

I don't think anyone sane was expecting socialism or nationalising the commanding heights or the transitional programme. But this, this was weak. Nothing radical. Nothing seriously "game changing". Nothing which is going to excite the people who might go out and knock on doors come May 2015.

That's because Labour is still stuck in the old mindset. The one of swing seats, of pandering to a narrow swathe of self interested bastards in Essex and Wiltshire who bother to go and vote. No attempt to engage outside of this tired prism.

The one thing Scotland proved is that if you manage to present something very different, very exciting you CAN actually inspire people...young people...previously unpolitical people...to go out and vote. That is the legacy of the referendum. But Labour was on the wrong side of that argument, and it seems has chosen to stay there.

So expect England for the English, self interested crap, immigration, Farage, fucking Farage, EU, bashing the poor as scroungers, bashing teachers and advocating free schools, War mongering and all the same old diet of general misery again leading up to 2015. The difference now is that Labour REALLY can't outflank the right, especially now UKIP is fully on the scene, but it seems the lessons haven't been learned.

For crying out loud, Miliband today backed war in Iraq after Blair's vile intervention. The die is cast, the same old diet of crap is being served up. It's like the last five years never happened.

Of course, I'll vote Labour as there's nothing else in town worth a throw, and I'll hope beyond hope that it's just a case of Ed saying what "needs to be said" to get into power for the greater good. But I'm not holding my breath on that one.

Phil said...

It is depressing, but they're fully signed up to the Westminster parlour game and that's what they're focused on.

Today, those who might see wisdom in that approach will point to the polling numbers supporting this stance. Yet if you put bolder plans out there - £10/hour minimum wage (which *Progress* recently called for), rail and utility nationalisation, you will find acres of support for it too.

This is what happens when policy making is concentrated in very few hands.

Vinyl Miner said...

Trouble is in a FTP system we are talking about who is going to win a few dozen marginals, upset the 20 or 20 thousand voters who decide the election would be costly. The YES campaign probably suffered by going all out for Labour voters and working with the ghost of Militant and the SWP at local level. They now reckon 20% of SNP supporters switched to NO over the (unfounded) fear of a far left revival in Scotland.