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.


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