Ed Miliband and the importance of Hope

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.”

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