Monday, 27 September 2010

Thoughts on the New Labour Party Leader - 'Red-Ed' Miliband

The mood in the Conservative camp is one of 'undisguised mirth', as David Crow put it, at the election of Ed Miliband as Leader of the Labour Party.

Leader of the Labour Party
Ed Miliband MP.
On Saturday night, shortly after the result was announced, staff at Conservative headquarters in London were, it is understood, popping open the champagne.  Advisers to Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron think the next election is more winnable than ever.

Much of this relief is understandable. Ed Miliband’s victory has sounded the death knell for New Labour, that election-winning machine which the party had come to hate.  The Conservatives have always said Tony Blair was unbeatable and feared that David Miliband, his last disciple, would also prove a tough opponent. 

Ed Miliband sees no shame in closing the door on the Blairite past, and everything it stood for.
"The era of New Labour has passed, a new generation has taken over."
Were the word used yesterday, in his first major interview since winning the crown, with the BBC's Andrew Marr.

There is nothing 'new' however, about the team that now leads Labour.  Ken Livingstone is not only the party’s mayoral candidate, but also topped the poll in the race to sit on the party's governing body - the National Executive Committee.  Lord Kinnock, red-flag bearer for the left wing, was one of Ed Miliband’s most vocal supporters.  Despite Blair’s attempts to consign them to history, the union barons are once again an important voice in the political debate.

Beyond the same old faces.  Gone is the emphasis on social mobility, on reward for hard work and entrepreneurial spirit.  It will be replaced by 'equality', essentially old-fashioned redistribution of wealth. Labour no longer wants to have more pie – it just wants to cut it up more evenly.

The banks will be bashed; the rich will be soaked; the private sector will be banished from public services. This is the manifesto on which Labour will fight the next election.

For Ed Miliband is not the joke that his opponents are trying to portray him as.  No, he is not as good as Blair, few politicians are.  But he is still a credible leader considering recent peers.

Susan Boyle of X-Factor fame
before and after.
He is much better than Neil Kinnock, the 'Welsh windbag' that voters simply would not vote for in 1992 – no matter how much they hated John Major and his completely divided government.  As Gordon Brown’s favourite number cruncher, he is clearly economically literate, unlike Harriet Harman, and will be able to twist facts and figures to attack the government as only a Brownite can.  He is no professional for the media, but his smile is nowhere near as scary as Brown’s, and the transformations that can be managed today, with a little coaching, are staggering - think Susan Boyle.

If he can convince the big trade unions to keep industrial unrest in check, his populist brand of socialism could tap into the banker-bashing zeitgeist.  As could his claim that the deficit can be reduced without much pain.  Voters might say they back tough cuts right now, but it is easy to say that before their impact starts to bite.

Worst of all for David Cameron is that Ed Miliband is a relative unknown – both in politics and public.  A fresh face gives him an enormous advantage - which his brother, David Miliband, would not have had

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