Hold on tight because this ‘journey to power’ is going to be a rollercoaster ride….
Ed Miliband’s speech today was something of a patch-work quilt of a speech. Some of it was good. It was good to hear a Labour leader talking passionately about inequality as if it really matters to them and I truly believe it does to Ed. Some of it was bad. It’s not good to talk in the language of Daily Telegraph leader writers as if all strikes are bad. As if, they are pursued by ‘reckless’ and ‘irresponsible’ people. Politics is full of people who prize their own advancement above any other cause so why is ordinary working people; fighting for their lives, fighting to put food on their table ‘reckless’ and irresponsible?
Of course it isn’t. Not all industrial action is justified but then again neither is it all ‘reckless’. More often than not it is the action of people desperate simply to survive. We should not have to explain this simple truth to a Labour leader of all people. Especially when that leader talks so eloquently about the plight of some school dinner ladies:
They had to buy their own uniforms, their shift patterns were being changed at a moment’s notice, frankly conference they were being exploited.
Asking public sector workers to bear the brunt of a crisis caused by out of control finance capital is exploitation too; expecting them to roll over and do nothing is plain naivety. Worrying noises too on immigration; it is a fine line between understanding people s prejudice, caused as it is by the scrabble for finite resources, and pandering too it. When Ed announced he was supporting AV it achieved barely a ripple of applause suggesting this is one stance he can advise but not lead on. One of the leading candidates for Shadow Cabinet has already made it plain he will still oppose AV so, de facto, Labour will get its free vote.
A word has to be said about David Miliband who, once again, has contrived to steal the limelight away from Ed. David was rightly chided by Harriet Harman for failing to clap and obviously has yet to absorb the lessons of the Iraq conflict. His remarks to Harman, his dalliance on keeping the promise he made (and which he now looks increasingly likely to break) to serve under Ed, his refusal to attend the first PLP after the result was announced are not the actions of somebody who has shown grace in defeat. He maybe the defeated darling of the Conservative press but his actions show that he is danger of becoming a Lawrence Wainwright figure. People who have viewed A Very British Coup will recognise that Ed Miliband is no Harry Perkins but David is in danger of becoming Wainwright, the defeated moderate-in-exile who is brought into the Cabinet but then used by the establishment as a weapon to try to oust the radical Perkins. It would be a tragedy if he can not surmount his understandable sense of hurt and becomes a weapon to be used against this Party by those who wish it harm in the press. David should not be included in the Shadow Cabinet and it would probably be better for all if he now did not run; this is now his most graceful course, a final act of contrition and deference to his brother who after-all, won this contest fair and square.