Miliband’s Economy speech sounds routine – but there are signs it could be major after all…

February 14, 2013 9:26 am

As I wrote yesterday, today is a big day for the Labour Party.

Ed Miliband is giving a speech in Bedford (or as it seems obligatory to call it “a major speech on the economy”) and Jon Cruddas is speaking in East London at the launch of IPPR’s “Condition of Britain”. Both will be well worth watching – but it’s the interplay between the two men, and how these speeches will dovetail, that could be particularly interesting.

Especially as Cruddas may have already pulled Miliband’s rabbit out of his hat for him…

From the pre-briefing and the media coverage (especially Miliband’s Guardian interview), it would seem like today’s economy speech is fairly routine. There’s some good imagery around being in Bedford (where Macmillan once told Britain “you’ve never had it so good”) and some fleshing out of existing policy (such as a commitment to capping interest on payday lenders). But on the whole the speech looks largely like a consolidation of Miliband’s existing statements on growing the economy, with a top line straight off the back of the membership card – the many, not the few – and the Obama-esque phrasing of “middle out”. We’ll be hearing more of that between now and the budget – and it dovetails nicely with “Squeezed Middle” – but I’m not sure it’s big enough to justify the tag of “major speech”.

But like Sunny Hundal, I have a sneaking suspicion that Miliband is holding something significant back for the speech itself. There are a few clues that this might be the case.

Firstly – the speech is being labelled as “major”. Miliband’s team are aware that they are sometimes accused – as Steve Richards did today - or giving thoughtful speeches with no major policy. I’d be surprised if that was the case today, as it would be a huge failure of expectation management that should have been easy to spot.

Secondly – Miliband and his team are very keen on this speech going ahead. Despite trains being cancelled between Bedford and London, the speech is going ahead, with help being provided for intrepid hacks who can make it to Stevenage. They very much want people to be there – this was never going to be cancelled. If this were a routine speech, then surely they’d move it or cancel it?

Thirdly – Cruddas may just have given away the big reveal. On Newsnight last night he suggested that Labour could reintroduce the 10p tax rate (which isn’t so much middle out as bottom up). I spoke to a source close to Miliband last night who said simply “Cruddas is Cruddas” (reminiscent of Blair’s famous John is John), but Labour’s policy chief surely isn’t just throwing out ideas at random on national TV? At the same time Miliband’s consigliere Stewart Wood wrote for the Huffington Post this morning, noting the importance of “a commitment to find new ways in which the tax system can more fairly distribute the burden of support, both in lean and better times”, which sounds awfully like a fairer tax system. That could be a reference to the 50p tax rate. But could it be something more?

That’s the big question today. Miliband needs to say something that will cut through and make the speech go ‘pop’. A rehash of old ideas – even a really good one – won’t be enough after such build up.

We wait with baited breath…

  • IAS2011

    If Milliband wants to appear different, be different and show some REAL strength, ambition and determination… he needs to start having an audience of ‘real’ ordinary folk, who want progress in their lives, but who is serious about upholding democratic rules – “Fairness and Justice” for ALL.

    The fact is, politicians are only interested in being SAFE! Thus, they are not here to strengthen amongst the diversity of experience and opinion that is our communities. Instead, like Cameron, he seems only willing to Win and establish Power.

    Come on Milliband, unlike Cameron, be BOLD! Start addressing what is difficult. That how we strengthen and gain respect! That is what the people are crying out for. Don’t you hear them? Or, is it only Power that is sought by You and others?

  • Amber_Star

    The speech is getting heavy coverage & analysis on the mainstream news; so it seems that the media are treating it as a major speech.

Latest

  • Comment To get young people involved in politics, we have to make sure they’re registered to vote

    To get young people involved in politics, we have to make sure they’re registered to vote

    To win next year, Labour must attract and motivate young voters. That’s why Ed Miliband has asked Ivan lewis and Lisa Nandy to ensure our election campaign considers this group over the next 8 months. As Mark Ferguson wrote this week, young voters overwhelmingly support Labour, but are unlikely to vote. Actually, the challenge for our party is even greater. Young people are often not on the electoral register. At the time of the last census, nearly a half of […]

    Read more →
  • News Polling Labour and Tories will win the same number of seats, says top pollster

    Labour and Tories will win the same number of seats, says top pollster

    Most political commentators seem to be hedging their bets a little with their predictions for next year’s election, but none have gone quite so far as respected pollster Peter Kellner (President of YouGov) who reckons that Labour and the Tories will win exactly the same number of seats. In the new copy of Prospect, Kellner raises no eyebrows when he says: “My own current guess is that both Labour and the Conservatives will fall short of outright victory.” Neither is it […]

    Read more →
  • Featured We need Graf and Grafters

    We need Graf and Grafters

    As my colleague Conor has pointed out, there is quite a lot of good news coming out of the latest Ashcroft polling for Labour. But there are some worrying messages too. The polling in Southampton Itchen is much too close for comfort as was the Thurrock polling in a previous round. Equally worry are the reports from voters of lack of activity they are seeing (or possibly noticing) from political parties. Only 16% are saying they have had any contact […]

    Read more →
  • News Labour will revoke energy companies’ licences if they breach agreed conditions, says Flint

    Labour will revoke energy companies’ licences if they breach agreed conditions, says Flint

    Today Caroline Flint MP, Shadow Energy and Climate Change Secretary, will lay out the difference between Labour’s and the Conservatives approach to energy. As part of Labour’s summer campaign, Flint is set to give a speech in which she will reveal new figures that show since 2010 household energy bills have risen four times as fast as wages and twice as fast as inflation. She will say that the Government has not been effective in ensuring that energy companies are held […]

    Read more →
  • Comment Will the Tory MP who wants to charge patients to use the NHS debate me?

    Will the Tory MP who wants to charge patients to use the NHS debate me?

    Earlier this week, Channel 4’s “Dispatches” asked if we are addicted to our doctors. It highlighted the increasing pressure the NHS is under and some of the costs associated with those pressures. My opponent in Bristol North West – Tory MP Charlotte Leslie – said that, in respect of A&E and GP surgery appointments that are deemed unnecessary, that “…we do need a charge I think to just enable people to think a little bit about what their use of […]

    Read more →