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The Left must back Ed, warts and all

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.


  1. dunablue says:

    The welfare state does need to be justified – what Mr. Milliband needs to do is articulate a program that goes beyond the welfare state (this is the 21st century) with some passion (like he really believes in it). Either that or line up for the ‘big society’ and more corporate hegemony and Orwellian policies.

  2. Duncan says:

    I can see where you’re coming from Jon, but Ed and the people around him made significant errors with this speech.

    I agree – it was not as bad a speech as it was spun. But it was Ed’s team that did the spinning. And it was still quite a bad speech.

    The errors:

    – Spinning for the Mail. This will backfire; dreadful advice and approach
    – Suggesting some sort of equivalence between benefit “scrounging” and tax evasion/avoidance (the latter costing nearly twenty times as much as the former). It gives a huge amount of unecessary ground away.
    – Allowing the prejudice against benefit claimants to be legitimised by the fished-for-and-got headlines that this speech inevitably brought in. “Scroungers”, etc. This was badly done.

    None of that is to say that we should abandon Ed to the Blairite wolves. But I do think Ed needs to work a bit harder to justify whole-hearted defence.

    And if he continues to triangulate (because he fears them more than he fears us) we have to have a point in mind where he ceases to be a promising social democrat and becomes another New Labourite. He’s already pretty equivocal on the cuts; now he’s nailed his colours to part of the “welfare reform” mast. He’s not heading in our direction here, Jon.

  3. Accept that your wrong about the speech, which was probably the most hard-right speech on welfare a Labour leader has ever given where he accuses a disable man of being irresponsible and wants to introduce the contributory principle across the board….seriously, if Ed Miliband is the best the Labour left can do, it deserves all thats coming too it….

  4. HarpyMarx says:

    I agree with Darrell, shocking that Ed M. has the audacity to compare a disabled man to greedy care home providers why is that “measured”???? It’s offensive.

    “And there is a link between the man on incapacity benefit and those executives at Southern Cross. What is that link?
    That these are people who are just not taking responsibility – and the rest of us are left picking up the pieces.”

    Ed coulda and shoulda used that speech to attack the Welfare Reform Bill, stated some firm policies not addressing an audience in that similar sermonising style Tony Blair used to do.

    Instead Miliband the younger has nailed his colours to a pale blue Labour mast. He says he is against demonising people but that speech precisely demonising people on benefits and that’s a disgrace.

    After reading that speech I loathe Ed M. because he pretended to be something he clearly isn’t (well some of us saw through that from the start) but people voted for him in good faith and what do you get. More attacks on the usual suspects one brief mention of tax avoidance and evasion. Bandwagon jumping and snuggling up to the right-wing populist media and the establishment while the rest of us can sod off.

    When weak willed and spineless Mister Ed gets usurped by the right -wing (if you can’t beat them capitulate to them but they still don’t want Ed) maybe a job as an Atos assessor will be in order as apparently Mister Ed can make assessments about someone’s injury based on a brief conversation. Atos will welcome him in open arms.

    As someone involved in disability rights, Mister Ed has utterly and totally alienated so many people in that speech. Totally responsible attitude there, mister Miliband!

  5. susan press says:

    Sorry Jon. This speech was a step too far for everyone in the Labour Party I have spoken to this week and I am not talking LRC members.
    I voted for Ed. I loathe the Blairite wolves as much as you do but we cannot and should not defend poor-bashing, crass, patronising rhetoric which utterly offends working people.As you work in Parliament I suggest left-of-centre people like yourself try and talk some sense into a Leader who seems to lack the strength to stand up to the neo-liberals – assuming as you do he has good instincts. And by the way he has just pulled out of the Durham Miners’ gala – another stupid own goal. The speech was indefensible

  6. Gary Elsby says:

    I’ve just read his speech.
    First I laughed.
    Then I shook my head.
    Then I got angry.
    Once my anger subsided, I was disgusted.
    Warts and all?
    No chance.
    Read Peter Kenyon’s blog below. That is the standard of which he should be judged and when he receives a clean bill of health, he should stop putting his foot in his mouth and bring to an end this obsessive desire by fledgling Leaders of Socialism to pander to Thatcher’s children.

    What’s wrong with just being Labour, speaking to Socialists and not abusing disabled people in the process?

  7. andy newman says:

    dunno, not sharing a platfrm with Bob Crow might make some of the usual suspects huff and puff, but in the bigger scheme of things there are more important ways to judge Ed m’s commitment to including dialogue with the unions; and the Refounding Labour document had the balance correct on that.

    I am no Ed M booster, I voted for him as third choice after Diane Abbot and Ed Balls, but the speech was not an attack on benefit claimants, but rather using language that everyone understands to talk about the need for a common and shared responsibility of the common good.

    I think the mitake that some of you are making is assuming that everyone who is interested in what labour is saying is currently on the side of people on benefits and furious about bankers.

    Not the case at all I am afraid.

    What Ed did was take hold of a populist concern about how people on benefits shoudl work if they can, and turn that against the bankers.

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