A reaction to Ed’s speech

Thursday, 30th September 2010 at 0:10 UTC 2 comments

By the wonders of technology and the Labour Party website, I tuned in to see Ed’s speech. It contained very little that actually grated, but at the same time, very little that could be called ‘impressive’. Certain parts, including his paragraph on Iraq felt like the right message 5 years late, and the Palestine section was perhaps the only one to mark a significant shift. But what did he leave out, and where does this leave those contesting the cuts in their own communities?

First of all, I think he might have mentioned the NHS once. Once isn’t really good enough when dealing with arguably Labour’s crowning glory, a service that literally saves the lives of millions of Britain’s poorest, richest and everyone in between. That a two-tier NHS might be emerging, with vast swathes sold off or ‘contracted out’ at potentially huge expense. I realise there was a lot to say already, but some of the hyperbole in the earlier sections could have given way to reassurances about this most vital of services.

Aside from the welcome comments on the Israel Palestine conflict – which pretty much match the bill for demands from my local Palestine Solidarity Campaign in York – the only bit that did impress me was commitment to a living wage. That commitment, if backed by manifesto pledges and ultimately action, will be what brings millions of new voters behind Labour at the next election – young people who are finding themselves facing years of unpaid internships. The fact the unions were so decisive in his victory should be a sign that the small people can still have power in deciding something – but this must not make them lazy as to the solution to the crises being created by the cuts.

His break from the past in Iraq and his commitment to staying to the left of the Tories on crime and terrorism shows a renewing might be in place. If the Labour party still has values, they must be backed by the ideals of personal liberty and distribution of the spoils of capitalism, at least at a domestic level – something that Blair completely discarded. And whether or not the party we get can ever be called radical, Labour is definitely on the mend towards those ideals, with a new generation already in place to take over. The Tories took almost a decade to find someone with the youth and ideas that Ed is providing just 4 months after defeat. No Hague, Duncan-Smith and Howard all fumbling around in the meantime.

To me, the position this leaves the movement against cuts in is clear – and strong. But not strong because Ed himself is in anyway a replacement to the movement, or its new leader. With Labour positioned where it is, the spectrum of opinions has been stretched just enough that we no longer look as much like a loony fringe. I want a movement that can say “even Labour are saying…” with a smile on our face, but still claim fresh ground and challenge opinions and understanding.

I suppose I would use the analogy of stepping out in front of a line of people, making oneself visible, but not so far forwards as to loose the relative safety of the nearby crowd. Labour under David Milliband would have been too far away to make any useful contribution as the mainstream from which to push out. The situation also offers a credible get out after five years, and I for one shall heave a huge sigh of relief if we a by-product of the movement is a newly elected Labour government – relief, but not ultimate victory.

The struggle goes on, but from a stronger position than we were in on Saturday.

Now to the Conservative Conference to show what we are capable of on Sunday.

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Entry filed under: Activism, Britain, Elections, Labour Party, News, Party Politics, Politics.

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Jonathan  |  Friday, 1st October 2010 at 11:17 UTC

    Question: how do you feel about this? http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/ed-miliband-warns-over-irresponsible-strikes-2092051.html

    My main impression is that while somewhat to the left of the other candidates, he’s also eager to be seen as moderate – and will attack unions (and, perhaps, anti-cuts campaigners if/when things kick off properly) in order to do so. Something that may we may see more of if the media keeps up that “Red Ed” nonsense.

    Which makes perfect political sense for him, obviously, but I’m not really sure how this puts us – as in the anti-cuts campaign – in a stronger position than we were in before he became leader.

    Reply
  • 2. antiphonsgarden  |  Saturday, 2nd October 2010 at 10:20 UTC

    3 right wing parties dancing on stage a round a round are NOT a democratic choice.
    REAL direct democracy is a need!

    Reply

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