This morning Ed Miliband released his (One Nation) New Year Message. It’s quite interesting, and you can watch it here. But what was perhaps most noteworthy for Labour supporters was this sentence:
“I’ve set out a vision of what this county can be, one nation, and in 2013 we will be setting out concrete steps on making that vision a reality from business to education to welfare.”
So we should expect more concrete examples of what a One Nation Labour government would do in 2013? That would certainly be welcome, as at present Labour activists are, at times, being sent somewhat naked onto the doorstep. An alternative vision of Britain is neccessary if the party is to build enthusiasm ahead of the next election.
And yet only a few days ago Ed Balls told The Times(£):
“Until we know the state of the economy, the state of the public finances and how bad things have turned out, it’s very hard for us to know what we can possibly say.”
I was a little disappointed that anything concrete was going to be held back – and I said so – so it’s pleasing just six days later to hear Ed Miliband confirming that concrete policies are on the agenda for 2013. But if both statements are correct, what we’re looking at in business, education and welfare, are policies that don’t cost any money.
(Perhaps something a bit relational?)
One thing is for sure – education, business and welfare are all sensitive areas for Labour supporters. Policies in those areas that have been successful in the past have usually cost money. And anything that looks like a cover for cuts, rather than a genuinely transformational approach in these areas, will likely set some noses out of joint – especially in terms of welfare.
Tread carefully, Ed. But don’t let that put you off. 2013 is a year in which Labour needs to develop a genuine offer to the electorate.
(And if you want to know what might be on the agenda in 2013 – don’t forget to sign up for our One Nation pamphlet launch in January)