Ed Miliband’s new era: this is a lurch to the Right, not the Left

September 29th, 2011

Published on The Telegraph, by Daniel Knowles, September 28, 2011.

I’ve been rereading Ed Miliband’s speech ( http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/ed-miliband/8791870/Labour-Party-Conference-Ed-Milibands-speech-in-full.html ) and reading the reaction to it, and I’ve come to a conclusion I genuinely didn’t expect: I liked it. I didn’t agree with it, but when the Labour leader popped up on Today this morning to say this is a “a new era”, where people won’t let markets fail them, where they will demand “responsibility” from top and bottom, I at least heard a new argument.  

The influence of Maurice Glasman, the north London academic elevated to the Lords to act as the Labour leader’s adviser, is clear. Ed Miliband is not rushing back to the Old Labour (note the capitals) of the 80s, as many commentators have argued. He’s going back to the 1920s and 1930s, when Labour leaders stood up against the capitalists running the mines and mills, but also against the bookmakers who ran betting rings in the back streets of the slums. “We’ve seen decent people with the right values losing out to those with the wrong ones” said Ed, which makes me think of how for working-class housewives in the Depression, decency and respectability were obsessions.

I don’t mean to say that Ed Miliband is a dinosaur, or wants to take us back to the Good Old Days of the 1930s or 1950s. I just mean that he has an idealistic view about how society ought to function. He thinks it should be communitarian (a horrible word). Individuals should make their decisions as part of a unified, “responsible” society. He is, in fact, being rather conservative. What Ed seems to oppose is liberalism (the “neo” Lefties like to attach here doesn’t interest me). With his wrong-headed idea that there are “good” businesses and “bad” ones, Ed is questioning the fundamental principle, as put by John Stuart Mill, that “the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his Will, is to prevent harm to others” … (full text).

More Links about Ed’s speech:

Ed’s Speech at Haverstock School, London, 14.61 min;

VIEWS ON ED’S SPEECH, on Socialist Unity;

Left Futures;

After Ed’s speech, what Labour needs to do next, on Liberal Conspiracy, by Don Paskini, September 28, 2011.

Comments are closed.