Socialist Worker

Ed Miliband tries to please both sides - with strings attached

by Simon Basketter
Issue No. 2372

Ed Miliband - whats behind the spin?

Ed Miliband - what's behind the spin? (Pic: Paul R Bednall/flickr)

Ed Miliband used his speech at the Labour Party conference in Brighton to target the “privileged few”.

In a line first used by US president Ronald Reagan, Miliband reached out to people saying, “At the general election, you should ask yourself, am I better off now than I was five years ago?

“You’ve made the sacrifices. But you’ve not got the rewards... Will the pain be worth it for gain under this government? No.”

Labour is proposing a bank bonus tax, a mansion tax on properties worth more than £2 million and a possible increase to 50p in the top rate of income tax.

Miliband also proposed a freeze on energy bills. And he has appointed Sir Michael Lyons, former chair of the BBC Trust, to draw up a “road map” for delivering new homes. 

The building of a million new homes at some point is apparently on the agenda. It is certainly the case that something is better than nothing—mostly.

But there is a nasty catch in the form of more restrictions on immigration and more apprenticeships on the promise of keeping foreigners out. And it’s all to be paid for by marginal changes in taxation.

People from all wings of the Labour Party enthusiastically endorse it all. But it is not all plain sailing. 


Labour will reverse one Tory cut to tax on profits, but use the money to give more tax breaks to small businesses.

The commitment to the Tory spending plans is a fundamental flaw. And the proposals to weaken the influence of unions in the Labour Party remain. An interim report  had many warm words last week. But the proposals are going ahead—and union leaders don’t like it.

Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said, “It’s our party. And by the way, no one, no one, is pushing us out of our party.”

GMB’s Paul Kenny said, “Be assured, the collective voices of millions of working people and their families, and 100 years of shared history, will not be washed away or sold for an election gimmick.”

In reality, their resistance was subdued as the row was essentially postponed until January.

Miliband has moved to at least offering some policies in opposition to the government. But Labour is determined to be all things to all people—and we are far from all in this together as “One Nation”.

For all the cover of soundbites about how “Britain will do better”, the Labour leadership believes that getting elected again means proving that the party can be trusted to run Britain for the bosses.

That is the root of their inadequacies, and the flaw in the union leaders’ loyalty to the party.

In a spin over McBride

Former Gordon Brown spin doctor Damian McBride got lots of coverage for his memoir. 

McBride admitted smearing not just his Tory opponents but also rivals to Gordon Brown in the Labour Party during the last Labour government.

It yet again shows that the last Labour government was obsessed with internal power struggles.

Ed Miliband and Douglas Alexander boast of having privately called for McBride’s dismissal. 

Other politicians such as Ed Balls claim not to have realised what McBride was up to. And those who did the exact same job for Tony Blair, such as Alastair Campbell, expressed their outrage.

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Tue 24 Sep 2013, 17:50 BST
Issue No. 2372
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