Ed Miliband and the importance of Hope

March 23, 2013 11:02 am

Anyone feeling gloomy? It’s snowing in March, the economy is a mess, and we’ve got a bungling, disreputable government in power for at least another 2 years.

Not exactly reasons to be cheerful. As Emma Burnell wrote on LabourList yesterday, Labour needs to understand hope.

Today, Ed Miliband appears to be trying to do just that.

The tenor of his speech later today – and the interview he’s given with the Times(£) -doesn’t sound particularly hopeful at first glance, with lots of talk about a “lost decade”. In fact it all sounds very grim. But that is the reality of what Osborne unveiled in the Budget this week. We’re 5 years on from the 2008 financial crisis, and we’re experiencing negligible growth if we’re seeing any at all. And yet the growth forecasts for the next few years are already being revised down. The lost decade is upon us – and unless Osborne is somehow able to pull a living, breathing rabbit from his hat in 2014, that will be the Tory offer going into the next election.

Vote Tory for more gruel.

The position Ed Miliband is in though is a more complex one still. On one hand he must provide a hopeful, positive and upbeat message if he’s to get people to the polls in 2015. But at the same time, he’ll need to make noises about “tough spending choices” and the need to reduce the deficit.

How will Miliband try and square this incredibly difficult circle? Here’s the pre-released section of his speech today that shows how he’s going to begin the process:

“Over the last two and a half years since I became Labour leader, I have sought to understand why people left Labour. From banking regulation to immigration to Iraq, I have been clear about what we got wrong.

But as I listen to people around Britain I also know they are increasingly disappointed with this Government.

People all over Britain have lost confidence in David Cameron’s ability to turn Britain around.

But let me clear with you. I know that however discredited, divided and damaging this Government is, I will not assume that their unpopularity will mean people turn to Labour.

Indeed, many people will believe that the failure of this Government means they should give up on politics altogether.

That nobody can turn round the problems of the country and nobody deserves their vote.

Three days after George Osborne’s Budget, the fog is clearing.

We are five years on from the financial crisis of 2008.

We are in the slowest recovery for 100 years.

And it is you who are suffering. Wages are frozen. Prices are rising. Living standards falling.

Yet the Chancellor offered no change in the Budget.

He offered more of the same.

Can you imagine another five years of this?

Low growth.

Living standards squeezed further.

You paying the price.

A lost decade Britain cannot afford.

A decade of national decline.

This Government is now leading Britain into that lost decade.

They’re shrugging their shoulders.

They have run out of ideas.

They are resigned to a lost decade.

But I know what some of you are thinking.

“It’s true things look grim. But there’s nothing we can do.”

Well, I don’t believe it is inevitable.

It is One Nation Labour’s task to show we can stop the slide into a lost decade.

To show people it does not have to be this way.

Not promising overnight answers.

Not promising that things will be easy.

One Nation Labour believes that to change this country, we need an economic recovery made by the many, not just a few at the top.

Because our economy is always more successful when it works for all working people.

And our country is always stronger when we can all play our part.

They think wealth comes from a few at the top.

I think wealth comes from the forgotten wealth creators: the people that work in the supermarkets, the factories, in small businesses on your high street, doing the shifts, putting in the hours.

I don’t just offer a change of management. I want to offer a change in the way this country is run and who it is run for.”

  • http://twitter.com/eiohel Miljenko Williams

    All well and good so far. But the last two sentences are still too ambiguous for my liking. First, “not just a change a management”. Second, “a change in the way this country is run”. It’s time the two ideas were properly and explicitly conflated. He needs to move as far as saying: “I offer a change in the way this country is run which is a change in the unquestioning belief in managerialism at all levels.” Managerialism as in this post from 2007 from Chris Dillow:

    http://stumblingandmumbling.typepad.com/stumbling_and_mumbling/2007/04/managerialism_p.html

  • Quiet_Sceptic

    I read these speeches and the intention is sound but they never contain anything concrete about what Labour would do or how it would achieve it and I think that’s a problem when you are trying to convince the public that we have solutions.

    The difficult bit isn’t pointing out the problems, it is coming up with viable solutions to address them, even if not as detailed policies then as a minimum the broad-brush approach or principles that will be applied to solve them. Yet when it comes to so many issues we get lots of emphasis on the concern, the intention but nothing practical as to how it would be solved.

    • Alexwilliamz

      Sad but true. Where have those clunking balls gone?

  • robertcp

    The priority for Labour should be taxing the rich more and increasing the income of people on low and middle incomes, for example, raising the income tax allowance to about 13,000, raising the Minimum Wage, encouraging employers to pay the Living Wage, cutting VAT, increasing benefits by at least inflation, guaranteeing a job on the Minimum Wage to the long-term unemployed, bringing back Education Maintenance Allowances, raising the top rate to 50% and introducing a Mansion Tax.

    • jaime taurosangastre candelas

      Have you done the mathematics on your proposals, even in outline form? You’d probably find that what you propose to raise through 50p and mansion taxes pays for about 2% of what extra you propose to spend.

      There are not enough rich people for Labour to raise extra taxation from to pay for the social policies. There will have to be cuts.

      • trotters1957

        Osbourne gave £60 billion in corporation tax cuts over 6 years, he gave over £100 billion in subsidised lending to the banks in this budget, he has already given the banks over £80 billion in the failed funding for lending scheme.
        And people like you say there is no money!
        Politics is about choices, Osborne has chosen to side with the banks, tax dodging, multinational homeless billionaires.
        What you do with this £250 billion ? I think you would make better choices.

        • jaime taurosangastre candelas

          Do you not understand the difference between actually giving money, and merely guaranteeing lending made by others? Osborne does not have money to give away, and nor would Balls. It is a risk judgement, the money only being lost – or spent – if losses are made, from 2015 onwards.

          £60 billion over 6 years is an average of £10 billion a year, and as Corporation Tax receipts are running at slightly over £14 billion a year increase, it could be observed that his cut in the rate has increased revenues. The reality is that not every business is paying more in Corporation Tax due to increased profits, but there are a number of businesses that have set up or relocated to the UK in addition to existing businesses.

          But, I take it that this “giveaway” cut in Corporation Tax is a bad thing, for you?

      • robertcp

        You are probably right on the allowance of 13,000 pounds but taking 3 billion from the rich and giving it to people on low and middle incomes would be good.

    • leslie48

      This is too idealistic- UK has near enough the highest deficit in Europe and our indebtedness is enormous. Like it or not the golden 2000s are over; the idea that people can have higher benefits when they are long term jobless- while our exports and tax revenues decrease- is ‘pie in the sky’.

      Of course we can increase the tax take from the very, very wealthy and rich corporations and I am positive we can look more at the self employed and their tax avoidance and how understating incomes & getting tax credits is rife. But its capital spending, infrastructure, high level /high value knowledge & technology training to generate exports , child care facilities, help for the very elderly – where the money will go -not on social transfers. Reduced UK resources will go where most value can be generated for our future growth. Get used to it – tax credits are dated and will be restricted as the UK state reduces its social spending.

      • rekrab

        Doesn’t make any sense Leslie48, even according to Osborne’s figures Britain’s GDP rate will be somewhere near 80% 2015/2016 with 240Bn more spending.If you reduce unemployment benefit by under the rate of inflation you only increase national debt.There isn’t a short term solution Leslie and no reason why the balance can’t be spread over a 100 years, not unless you think the 100Bn trident cost will be deployed and used sometime soon? with retaliation?

      • rekrab

        Doesn’t make any sense Leslie48, even according to Osborne’s figures Britain’s GDP rate will be somewhere near 80% 2015/2016 with 240Bn more spending.If you reduce unemployment benefit by under the rate of inflation you only increase national debt.There isn’t a short term solution Leslie and no reason why the balance can’t be spread over a 100 years, not unless you think the 100Bn trident cost will be deployed and used sometime soon? with retaliation?

        • leslie48

          Forgive me I do not understand your point however one quote from an FT writer discussing the Cyprus fall out yesterday was ” The ghastly arithmetic underlying this week’s budget shows … we may have already passed the point where the state’s debt can be brought under control by conventional means as the dead weight cost of servicing it stifles the growth needed to pay it down” Now I know the Right are using the post crisis to attack the state ( every day the tabloids do that with the public employees and the soft unions cannot do much of a counter attack as they do not know how) but what I do not know and nor do most of us- is how much the very high level of UK debt and deficit will effect our policies going forward?

          • rekrab

            My point is, only two countries in Europe have a higher GDP rate than Britain, France and Germany.
            If we accept that 2/3 of GDP comes from house hold spending, then we get a bit closer to why we can’t pay our debt down. Osborne simply went for the ideological kill and in doing so has neglected the 3 main substances to recovery,”house-hold spending” by cutting benefits, stagnating wages and creating more unemployment all 3 means that Britain isn’t spending enough to generate growth and our debt problem isn’t being serviced.

            If we had a growth plan since 2010 by 2015 we would have generating over 150Bn just from the growth rate alone.

            Leslie48, don’t be sucked in to the short term nonsense of Osborne’s failed plan A, there is another way and only labour could deliver it.

          • Dave Postles

            That theoretical level is, I believe, 90% of GDP. There is a way to go, as it were. I think the forecast is a peak of 86%, but I may be wrong there.

      • robertcp

        I agree with a lot of of your response but there is a need to increase the share of the economy that goes to people on low and medium incomes, which has declined over the last 30 years.

        • leslie48

          Agreed – I think Labour need to separate out “how the cake is shared”, that is – issues of social justice, re-distribution etc. , from the ” the size of the cake” i.e. where the growth of the economy will come threatened as it is with servicing the debt, export problems, too many low skilled school leavers etc. The public are with us on the first issue but on the second we need more debate. Trouble is the economists seem unable to get it together but we need their help on the horrors of our banking, deficit and debt, the horrors of leaving the EU and how the growth will come. We are in decline!

          • Alexwilliamz

            We are in decline? I think that is a choice we are still just about in a position to make, however time is rapidly running out.

          • robertcp

            I agree that a lot of debate is needed before 2015.

          • robertcp

            I agree that a lot of debate is needed before 2015.

          • robertcp

            I agree that a lot of debate is needed before 2015.

  • BusyBeeBuzz

    Too late Ed! By forcing the PLP to abstain (rather than vote against) the Jobseekers (Back to Work) Bill you have proved that Labour offers no hope to the ordinary people of this country. May I suggest that all the Blairites cross the floor and join the Tories. I would recommend that anyone who is concerned about retrospective legislation undermining the rule of law; the restriction of access to judicial review; the introduction of closed courts; cuts to legal aid and the introduction of the bedroom tax to join LIBERTY at: http://www.liberty-human-rights.org.uk/index.php

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1024010664 Mike Thomas

    I think until the public blame the coalition for the country’s ills, Ed can say what he likes and it will not work. He is surrounded by the architects of our malaise on his frontbench and he has a Chancellor that is 100% political calculation 0% what’s right for the country. Balls is no One Nation Labourite.

    Incidentally, the coalition is coming up to three years in, so is Ed reflecting back on 7 years of a Labour administration, or accepting Labour’s defeat in 2015, whatever way you carve it, he either can’t add up or it makes no sense.

    Honestly, all the coalition has to do is “Do you want this man in charge of the nation’s finances… again?” and Ed is tilting at windmills.

    Nowhere is this more obvious than Labour’s “mea-culpa” on immigration. I would guess the public want a grovelling apology more than a “ooops… let us have another crack please.”

    As for One Nation Labour – that is truly funny. Labour vilified the working classes for their small ‘c’ conservatism on immigration. One Nation also means thinking of the well-off and less well-off. Wealth starts by allowing people to save their income and spend it how they see fit. Not giving it back to them as a ‘cheque’ which Ed is very good at reminding us.

    Does One Nation Labour acknowledge who makes the largest net contribution to taxes, the top 10% of earners, or will Ed ignore them and squeeze them?

    Does it really have the answers on how to repair the economy apart from borrow more money? It opposes the cuts, yet cutting government spending and re-balancing the economy is the only option.

    And please don’t forget, the Conservative Plan A is only Labour’s Plan A with 1% more cuts.

  • Moose

    I see no hope whatsoever for the worst off members of the population – those who have been sentenced to death for failing to pretend to work by the Labour policy of withdrawing all benefits which was never being exacted on anything less than 20 thousand people from 2005, rising to over 40 thousand by 2010 and excusing IDS from raising it to over 60 thousand and beyond now.

    Let us see the party realigning itself to protect the right to life before trying to claim anything else.

  • AlanGiles

    My hope is that Miliband will one day master the autocue, so he doesn’t have to speak in one line sentences. It looks juvenille. It sounds desperate.

    As for the usual One Nation cobblers it sounds even more bogus than usual in the week Labour were too scared to vote againt the retrospective ammendment to the Welfare Reform Bill.

  • volcanopete

    The fog might be clearing but the snow and east wind are not .£4million on cold weather payments is inadequate.Bills for heating are unaffordable,yet British Gas and the rest of them pay mega-bonuses to top bosses in dividends to rich shareholders and now hold the country to ransom with power cuts.These power companies need defenestrating and brought back to common ownership.This is still rip-off UK.

  • Dave Postles

    Damn – my guess was that JoeDM was your alias.

  • AlanGiles

    “They’re out of sorts in Sunderland
    And terribly cross in Kent,
    They’re dull in Hull
    And the Isle of Mull
    Is seething with discontent,
    They’re nervous in Northumberland
    And Devon is down the drain,
    They’re filled with wrath
    On the firth of Forth
    And sullen on Salisbury Plain,
    In Dublin they’re depressed, lads,
    Maybe because they’re Celts
    For Drake is going West, lads,
    And so is everyone else”
    (“There Are Bad Times Just Around The Corner” by Noel Coward)

    • rekrab

      Alexander Pope!

      Know then thyself, presume not God to scan
      The proper study of Mankind is Man.
      Placed on this isthmus of a middle state,
      A Being darkly wise, and rudely great:
      With too much knowledge for the Sceptic side,
      With too much weakness for the Stoic’s pride,
      He hangs between; in doubt to act, or rest;
      In doubt to deem himself a God, or Beast;
      In doubt his mind or body to prefer;
      Born but to die, and reas’ning but to err;
      Alike in ignorance, his reason such,
      Whether he thinks too little, or too much;
      Chaos of Thought and Passion, all confus’d;
      Still by himself, abus’d or disabus’d;
      Created half to rise and half to fall;
      Great Lord of all things, yet a prey to all,
      Sole judge of truth, in endless error hurl’d;
      The glory, jest and riddle of the world.

      Go, wondrous creature! mount where science guides,
      Go, measure earth, weigh air, and state the tides;
      Instruct the planets in what orbs to run,
      Correct old time, and regulate the sun;
      Go, soar with Plato to th’ empyreal sphere,
      To the first good, first perfect, and first fair;
      Or tread the mazy round his followers trod,
      And quitting sense call imitating God;
      As Eastern priests in giddy circles run,
      And turn their heads to imitate the sun.
      Go, teach Eternal Wisdom how to rule—
      Then drop into thyself, and be a fool!

      • rekrab

        Just for the record, Pope may have indeed hung around with the whigs and the tories and feminists and marxist may have been overly critical of his works because as a shunned religious person who was severely disabled Alexander Pope’s message of hope eternal had in my opinion a deeper rooted base for a more equal society.Now that will annoy the oxbridge brigade.

  • i_bid

    There is no hope to be found when Labour won’t even commit to reversing the coalitions catastrophic ‘reforms’, but will only repeat “I’m not going to promise anything”, as if the lesson from the tuition fees is never to make any promises.

  • BusyBeeBuzz

    Cait Reilly and others forced to work for nothing at shops like POUNDLAND are the “forgotten wealth creators…doing the shifts, putting in the hours”. Abstaining from the Jobseekers (Back to Work) Bill demonstrated that such people are not included in Ed’s One Nation Labour. Abstaining from the Jobseekers (Back to Work) Bill also demonstrates that even though New Labour introduced the Human Rights Act 1998, One Nation Labour has no respect for the rule of law and is happy to breach Article 6 of the HRA – Right to a fair trial. At a time when the Tories are introducing closed courts, limiting access to judicial review and implementing cuts to legal aid, Labour had the opportunity to stand up for human rights, the rule of law and victims of a bad law. Instead, Labour chose to side with the Tories.

  • BusyBeeBuzz

    If Labour wants to attract people to re-engage in politics and vote Labour, they will have to win the moral high ground. This moral high ground can be won on issues which concern justice. The Lib Dems have historically maintained their support for human rights legislation (UK, EU & UN), but 3 lawyers including Dinah Rose QC have just resigned from the Lib Dem Party because Nick Clegg has voted with the Tories on:
    · legal aid cuts
    · limiting judicial review
    · getting rid of equality impact assessment
    · introducing closed courts
    Removing the above points is a breach of Article 6 of the Human Rights Act 1998 and is a threat to our democracy. The only types of society that would embrace such changes are dictatorships.

    “Wherever Law ends, Tyranny begins” – John Locke. (Two Treatises of Government, Book II, Chapter XVIII, section 202).

  • BusyBeeBuzz

    If Labour wants to attract people to re-engage in politics and vote Labour, they will have to win the moral high ground. This moral high ground can be won on issues which concern justice. The Lib Dems have historically maintained their support for human rights legislation (UK, EU & UN), but 3 lawyers including Dinah Rose QC have just resigned from the Lib Dem Party because Nick Clegg has voted with the Tories on:
    · legal aid cuts
    · limiting judicial review
    · getting rid of equality impact assessment
    · introducing closed courts
    Removing the above points is a breach of Article 6 of the Human Rights Act 1998 and is a threat to our democracy. The only types of society that would embrace such changes are dictatorships.

    “Wherever Law ends, Tyranny begins” – John Locke. (Two Treatises of Government, Book II, Chapter XVIII, section 202).

  • Dave Postles

    Yes, there’s still a smidgeon of hope; please sign the petition.

    Dear Friends,

    Just an update on our petition – we’ve collected 7000 signatures so far so thank
    you, thank you, thank you for all your support to date.

    We now have 24 hours left before the Bill is before the House of Lords.

    The BBC has finally acknowledged the existence of the Bill however its coverage is
    limited to:

    “The Welfare Benefits Up-rating Bill will probably be given its third reading in a
    matter of minutes and then peers move on to deal with changes made by the Commons to
    the Crime and Courts Bill ” – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-21901318

    The coverage fails to mention what is at the heart of our campaign – the fact that
    the Coalition’s policy broke the law and they are now trying to retrospectively
    change that law to cover their own arse. This behaviour is truly abhorrent. What
    makes them think they are above the law? We cannot let them get away with this,
    unchallenged.

    Please, please, please can I ask for one last push for this campaign. Let’s saturate
    social networking sites tomorrow and see if we can reach 10,000 signatures. We need
    to make sure we inform as many people as possible as to what’s happening – since the
    media seem too gutless to do so.

    http://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/stop-the-uk-government-changing-the-law-retrospectively

    Thanks

    Shari’

    • DJT1million

      Signed & shared! Thank you.

  • Alexwilliamz

    Just make sure you close the window after, as its bloody freezing out there.

  • Dave Postles
  • Dave Postles
    • DJT1million

      I completely agree.

      Coming on the same evening as the other news from the BMJ/Lucy Reynolds who have an interview with liberal conspiracy confirming that the NHS is being privatised from April 1st, Lucy Reynolds says ‘We’re not going to have a big bang privatisation for the NHS. We’re going to have a very quiet one.’ Quite.

      There are some days when it feels that our elected (or barely elected in the case of the Coalition) government are working against the British people and not for them……completely forgetting that we are supposed to be a democracy and they are supposed to be publicly elected servants of the people and not our rulers.

      Not a good day.

    • Rosie2
  • BusyBeeBuzz

    Well, it looks like there is some hope! Ed has finally realised that pressurising the PLP to abstain was a stupid idea. The Guardian reports:
    Labour ‘pressed MPs to abstain on welfare vote’
    MPs put under ‘significant pressure’ by party leaders to abstain on crucial vote, says outgoing parliamentary private secretary
    “The feeling is that left to his own devices we would consistently be voting with the Tories. We urgently need to develop a distinctively Labour approach on welfare and not just keep following the Tories.”
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2013/mar/24/labour-mps-abstain-welfare-bill

  • AlanGiles

    You are right: especially when five days before this speech he and his front bench acquiesced in allowing the Government to impose a retrospective law, specifically aimed at impoverishing the least well-off people in this country

    “Not promising overnight answers.”
    Miliband is not promising ANY answers. All he is doing is promising something he knows to be undelieverable (“one nation”) and repeating the “too far too fast” catchphrase

  • AlanGiles

    You are right: especially when five days before this speech he and his front bench acquiesced in allowing the Government to impose a retrospective law, specifically aimed at impoverishing the least well-off people in this country

    “Not promising overnight answers.”
    Miliband is not promising ANY answers. All he is doing is promising something he knows to be undelieverable (“one nation”) and repeating the “too far too fast” catchphrase

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