Speaking to Bloomberg whilst on his Scandinavian trip this week (from which he has now returned), Ed Miliband rejected the idea that britain could become a high tax and spend nation like Sweden or Denmark, saying:
“There are some lessons you can learn, and some things that are different. They’ve always had a tradition of significantly higher tax and spending, which we don’t have in Britain and aren’t going to have in Britain. We’ve said that we want tax cuts for low and middle income families. That’s a sign of a fairer tax system; it’s not about higher taxes.”
Interestingly this echoes what one of Miliband’s closest aides told me last week – suggesting a deep level of thought about both the lessons Labour can learn from Scandinavia, but also the profound differences between the countries. As I wrote on Sunday:
“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.”
As Duncan Weldon noted yesterday, Miliband’s aim will be to reshape the economy, but that is unlikely to come through the state acting to correct the market after pay, but before pay by focussing on the skills shortage and the need for highly skilled jobs. You might even call it “predistribution”.