The imagery behind David Miliband’s speech this afternoon

8th January, 2013 7:46 pm

David Miliband made a much commented upon speech this afternoon in opposition to the Welfare Benefits Uprating Bill. One paragraph that stood out was when he said:

The Chancellor reminds me of the man in the 1929 election poster, standing above others on a ladder. Water is up to the neck of the man on the bottom rung, while the man at the top shouts “Equality – let’s all go down one rung”.

Some LabourList readers might be unfamiliar with the poster Miliband was referring to – a copy of which hangs above the Editor’s desk in our office. It’s a classic, so we’ve reproduced a copy below:



It’s as true today as it was 84 years ago…

  • rekrab

    Brilliant illustration! I listened to the speech and for the first time all thoughts of bananas had gone! well done David more of this please.

    • dave stone

      Yes, it’s an excellent speech.

      • rekrab

        Happy newyear Dave! Yeah, great passion and conviction and the part that related to the tax relief of the 40K per year, would generate a 33 Bn saving was very interesting.Most definitely an alternative to the dire attack on the lowest of incomes.

        • dave stone

          Thanks mate. Happy New Year to you and yours. He certainly hit them hard – and I hope, like you say, there’ll be more of this.

    • postageincluded

      You should read the despicable Patrick Wintour’s piece in the Guardian about the speech. Apparently it was the beginning of a fratricidal plot..

      • reformist lickspittle

        Wasn’t that Nick Watt? Not that they aren’t two peas in a pod, of course…..

  • oakroyd

    He had plenty of years to help out the poor and under-privileged in government. How did that go again? Not a word of truth from any of the parties in the debate today. All guilty.

  • jaime taurosangastre candelas

    But, if I may, you are missing a good point. The unemployed – those totally dependent on benefits – are being made to suffer a real terms cut in the meagre level of support they get (1% uprating, when there is 2.7% inflation). And yet the “strivers” are getting a £267 uplift in real income because of the increase in the personal tax allowance, which of course is irrelevant to the unemployed.

    We should be withdrawing benefits from those better off – certainly those on more than the median wage – and redeploying the money to those least well off, such as the unemployed. No net cost to the Treasury.

    What that would do is to “broaden” the base of that ladder, so that the unemployed can step up while the others step down. Even a half step up would be welcome to the unemployed man in your picture, taking his chin up from the water level.

    At the moment, we have the ridiculous situation where £71 a week on JSA is deemed enough for the unemployed, and yet – to take an example – maternity pay is unlimited based on previous income. That could be £15,576 for the first six weeks for a female banker on £150,000, and then £135 weekly for the next 33 weeks. Total £20,030. In the same period, a JSA person gets £2,769 (and in addition, an onerous schedule of proving that he or she is actively looking for work, while the new mother is left completely alone, plus of course knows that she has a guaranteed job to return to, which I am sure the JSA person would love to have). Why is a new mother deemed worthy of such an amount and such latitude, but a JSA person of such little?

    It does not even have to be an a-typical rich female banker. A Tesco shop worker on the minimum wage who becomes pregnant will draw £5,703 in SMP over 39 weeks, compared with the JSA person drawing £2,769. This is completely mad.

    It is ludicrous. We pay the wrong people far too much benefit money because there is this insane commitment to “universal rights”, and the result is that those who most need it have very little to receive, our country is fragmented and argumentative, and the Treasury borrows and bleeds money that our children will have to pay.

  • ColinAdkins

    How many months since his last Commons contribution and all the time he has been drawing his MPs salary? The intevention was laboured (excuse pun) and appeared over prepared. If the Blairites believe he is our great lost leader then Ed Balls is the greatest wit since Oscar Wilde even Morrissey. It is clear if Ed slips we need to move onto the next generation.


  • Comment Austerity is damaging women’s mental health. Labour must act to improve it

    Austerity is damaging women’s mental health. Labour must act to improve it

    Women experience mental health differently to men. They suffer higher rates of depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). And the factors that cause these are likely to get worse because of the government’s austerity agenda. So if Labour is to continue being the party that works for women, we must focus on mental health provision, or risk losing ground in our fight for gender equality. The Mental Health Foundation highlights how women are twice as likely to experience anxiety. […]

    Read more →
  • Featured News Jeremy Corbyn: “Tory conference was a feast of spin and deception”

    Jeremy Corbyn: “Tory conference was a feast of spin and deception”

    The Conservative Conference in Manchester proved that the party were still “the same old Tories”, according to Jeremy Corbyn. During a speech in Glasgow tonight, where he will also set out his support for “decent” businesses who support their employees, Corbyn will call out the Tories’ “fake claims to support equality” and say that ministers’ speeches “let the mask slip” to reveal the party’s true colours. He will also say that David Cameron’s “crude personal attacks” on Corbyn show that […]

    Read more →
  • News Sadiq edges ahead in close early London Mayor poll

    Sadiq edges ahead in close early London Mayor poll

    Sadiq Khan is ahead of Zac Goldsmith by 51% to 49% in the first YouGov poll for the Evening Standard since both were confirmed as their party’s candidates. It is also the first time that Khan has been ahead of Goldsmith in a head-to-head polled by YouGov (other pollsters have shown him with leads previously). A Khan/Goldsmith run-off in June revealed a tie, while Goldsmith edged it in July and August polling – suggesting that early momentum may have shifted […]

    Read more →
  • Featured News Corbyn to set out pro-“decent business” agenda in Glasgow speech

    Corbyn to set out pro-“decent business” agenda in Glasgow speech

    Jeremy Corbyn will tonight praise ethical and responsible businesses, in a speech at a Scottish Labour fundraiser in Glasgow. He will praise employers who “respect their workers” and “don’t lock out trade unions”. It is one of the first signs of what a Labour pro-business agenda under Corbyn might looks like, as he outlines the kind of business practice he thinks the party “should celebrate”. He will also criticise the fallout from 2008’s financial crisis, which he says was caused […]

    Read more →
  • News Tristram Hunt warns that social media creates “narrow online world” for activists

    Tristram Hunt warns that social media creates “narrow online world” for activists

    Social media is skewering how we perceive politics, according to Labour MP Tristram Hunt. In a speech at the University of Sheffield last night, Hunt said that Labour needed to deal with three aspects of a changed political landscape: “populism and social media; a ruptured political economy; and new identities of patriotism”. He identified the ‘filter bubble’ as a problem – whereby search engines and social media sites record information about a user to deliver content they will like, but […]

    Read more →
Share with your friends