Miliband and Alexander to make Europe trip

February 17, 2013 6:39 pm

Over the next few days, Ed Miliband and Shadow Foreign Secretary Douglas Alexander will be travelling to meet European allies in Denmark, Sweden and the Netherlands. Both men will be holding talks with senior European politicians on a trip that the party is billing as “about building a Europe that works for all”.

Visiting Denmark, Sweden and the Netherlands, they will be meeting:

  • Helle Thorning-Schmidt, Prime Minister of Denmark (Monday)
  • Stefan Löfven, Leader of the Swedish Social Democrats (Tuesday)
  • Diederik Samsom, Leader of the Dutch Labour Party (Wednesday)

Most of the attention will no doubt be on the visit to Denmark, because a) Westminster is obsessed with Borgen and Thorning-Schmidt is Denmark’s real-life first female Danish PM (although she very much is not Birgitte Nyborg) and b) because of her links to the Labour Party (she is Neil and Glenys Kinnock’s daughter-in-law). However the meeting that may be most relevant might be on Wednesday, when the two men meet representatives from teh Dutch Labour Party, who recently bounced back into government off the back of a successful election campaign that was marked by sometimes painful honesty about the future of the country.

There has clearly been plenty of thinking about Scandinavian Social Democracy in Miliband’s office recently. Some Miliband supporters – and detractors – think he’s something of a Scandinavian Social Democrat himself. Interestingly, when I spoke to a senior Miliband aide last week they said that what interested them most about Scandanavian economies was less their reliance on tax and spend, and more the highly skilled and educated population, leading to low wage differentials between the top and bottom of society. No doubt that’s something Miliband and Alexander will be wanting to discuss while they’re away – as well as creating some dividing lines between Miliband’s approach to Europe (constructive, open, engaged) and Cameron’s (closed and obstructive).

Speaking ahead of his trip – Miliband released the following statement:

“Britain’s future lies in Europe not outside it. The EU provides a gateway to the single market for thousands of British businesses and those who invest in our country. But with millions of people out of work across Europe including one million young people in Britain, it’s clear that Europe isn’t working for its people.

“This is a failure of David Cameron’s economic approach in Europe as in Britain: a failure to understand that recovery will be made by the many not just a few at the top; the failure of the notion that a relentless squeeze on living standards could ever lead to growth; the failure of collective austerity as the answer to the economic problems of Europe.

“I will be talking to allies across Europe – in Denmark, Sweden, and Holland – about how we change it to make the EU work for working people and help us all begin building for the future. And learning lessons for Britain about how we can create a successful economy, one which is made to last.

“That means adopting a different approach from this government. We cannot create wealth through just a few at the top, but only by supporting the living standards, skills and talents of the many. We need a plan for an economy that works for all of Europe’s people.” 

  • Daniel Speight

    …and more the highly skilled and educated population, leading to low wage differentials between the top and bottom of society.

    Again I go back to (harp on about) that measurement of income inequality called the Gini Coefficient. This idea of narrowing the gap in incomes really is a question of faith for social democrats. You see you can’t support neo-liberal economics and more equal incomes at the same time. It really is test of the leadership of the party, one which unfortunately Blair and Brown failed miserably.

    • Dave Postles

      The GC is probably is probably much higher than actually recorded since it is easier to disguise income and wealth these days.
      Additionally, a number of economists are reasserting that inequality inhibits economic growth.

      • Daniel Speight

        Yes Dave, it seems that support for the idea that unequal societies fare worse than those that are more equal is gaining support all the time. It seems that ‘greed is good’ has had its day.

  • Pingback: The forging of a UK-Nordic-Baltic bloc | The Corner The Corner

Latest

  • News Scotland have voted No to independence, say LabourList readers

    Scotland have voted No to independence, say LabourList readers

    In a few hours time, we will find out that Scotland has voted against independence – according to LabourList readers, anyway. 77% of those who took our survey this week said they thought that the outcome of today’s referendum would be a No vote. Despite polls have closed in over the past fortnight, our readers are confident that Scots will have chosen to preserve the Union. 23% think that the result will be in favour of Yes. Only two polls in […]

    Read more →
  • News Lift cap on borrowing so councils can build – say Labour PPCs, councillors and AMs

    Lift cap on borrowing so councils can build – say Labour PPCs, councillors and AMs

    A group of London-based Prospective Parliamentary Candidates, councillors and London Assembly Members have written an open letter (published in the Guardian), calling on party leadership to go further in their policy commitments when it comes to building houses. Although the letter praises Ed’s pledge that the next Labour government “will build 200,000 homes a year by 2020″, the cohort which include urge leadership to commit to lifting what they deem the “arbitrary cap [placed on councils] on borrowing to build”. […]

    Read more →
  • News Are Labour going to make the NHS the focal point of the 2015 campaign?

    Are Labour going to make the NHS the focal point of the 2015 campaign?

    Earlier this week, a poll found that Labour hold an 18-point lead over the Tories as the most trusted party on the NHS – the only topic voters consider a “major issue” that sees a Labour lead. The NHS being a crucial issue of the Scottish referendum, with both sides accusing the other of lying. Many of today’s votes rest on whether they trust Yes Scotland or Better Together’s claims about the health service. Now reports say that Labour are considering […]

    Read more →
  • Comment We stand up for human value – we proudly defend the Human Rights Act

    We stand up for human value – we proudly defend the Human Rights Act

    If you’re part of the Labour Party, or hold any similar values, you will certainly share the absolute belief in respect and dignity for everyone. I don’t think anyone in our movement, with our principles, would disagree. And so, with those common values, we are entirely right to stand up, loud and proud, for the Human Rights Act. The publication this week of Human Rights: Reflections on the 1998 Act by Jonathan Cooper in Stephen Hockman’s Law Reform 2015 (with […]

    Read more →
  • Comment Scotland Friendship and solidarity must prevail, as the fog clears

    Friendship and solidarity must prevail, as the fog clears

    The air hangs thick this morning with the referendum. Last night a deep fog rolled down across Edinburgh, but in reality it is the campaign which has blotted the vision and stopped even the keenest of observers from seeing what lies just a few footsteps ahead. The final days has provided one crucial clarification though – the No campaign is capable of great passion and powerful rhetoric. Mocked, endlessly criticised, a reputation dragged through the muck. Despite it all – […]

    Read more →