Ed’s speech was carefully measured. A re-statement of the post-war justification for the creation of the welfare state — a social responsibility we all share. Those who saw this as an attack on benefit claimants must be basing their view on the spin and interpretation of the speech rather than the speech itself. And those who fail to see the difference between the Keynesian social democratic agenda of the two Eds and the neo-liberalism of David Miliband’s undelivered ‘victory’ speech need to remove their ultra-left blinkers.
Of course, we are disappointed that Ed is not articulating a more radical agenda, and that he surrounds himself with too many New Labour apologists who are happy to spin what he does say to suit the Blairites. It is also a source of serious concern that Liam Byrne’s policy review looks likely to seek to preserve much of the New Labour heritage. However, Ed Miliband is now being attacked by many of the Blairites for whom preserving the New Labour programme is far more important than winning the next election. No matter that it lost us the last.
The evidence is now all too clear. Not only in the covert briefings and the deliberate downplaying of the local election results (and the evasion of their responsibility in Scotland) but in their public statements: the recent onslaught was heralded by Peter Watt’s call to stop fighting the cuts, given substance by the deliberately leaked elder Miliband speech and reinforced by Jim Murphy’s unconvincing appeal for everyone to “shut up and get on with your job,” when his main message was “we won’t win next time by trashing what Tony in particular did last time.”
If Labour’s Centre Left does not stand by him in the face of this attack, it can only be Labour that loses.