Labour’s two Ed’s launch charm offensive…
Both Ed Miliband and Ed Balls have been ‘on maneuvers’ in something of a media charm offensive today. Ed Miliband has a fluffy bunny piece in the Daily Mirror and the other Ed, Ed Balls has a slightly more cerebral interview in The Independent. Personally, I don’t like it when politicians involve their families too much in their political life. They seem to think it’s perfectly ok to use these pieces to try to convince the electorate they are human but if they are caught with their trousers round their ankles with their secretary sucking their toes then they rediscover their inviolable right to a private life. Sadly, however, this grating double-standard is an inevitable consequence of the media age we live in.
So, since only one piece has something serious political to say we are going to have to stop with Ed Balls for the rest of this post. This Ed’s problems started the moment he started taking too much notice of the other one. Not much festive cheer and promise of an easy 2012 exists therein; take this nugget on welfare reform:
“We will be taking a tougher approach to conditionality [for benefit claimants]. If people can work, they should work. That is one example. There will be others next year of how we will show people how we will sort this out.”
Notice the sleight of hand. Saying people who can work should is motherhood and apple pie – it’s pretty hard to be against it – but it leaves out the rather question of why the people who currently don’t work cant and what can be done to help the vast majority of people who are capable and want work to be able to work. Nothing is said by Balls which indicates that he is prepared to challenge the social stigma which is poisoning the British view of those in desperate need. Amazingly, in what must constitute a new low, the leaderships attitude to welfare is drifting to the right of Daily Mail columnists.
The Independent chose to headline the invitation Balls makes to Liberal Democrats to break their coalition with the Conservatives and form a new one with Labour. I have to say I throughly disapprove of this, I do want Liberal Democrats to cross the floor and join the opposition but the idea they should then go onto form a new government with Labour, without once blinking and consulting the people is abhorrent to me. Having committed to sin of doing the dirty on the electorate with the Conservatives, it seems pretty indecent to me that we should then merely request they repeat the same trick, except with us this time. Not that this seems to particularly bother Balls;
“Before or after the next election, if the parliamentary arithmetic throws up the need for a coalition of Labour and the Lib Dems, I would go into that with enthusiasm…I could serve in a Cabinet with Chris Huhne or Vince Cable tomorrow.
In making this call, Balls is displaying the worst and most undemocratic mannerisms of Westminster-bubble politicians. Economically, it seems that Balls is unlikely to offer the kind-of vision he seemed to promise in the leadership campaign – pledging ‘no spending spree’. Sadly, a spending spree maybe partially necessary in order to restructure an economy broken by carrying the burden of the parasitic finance sector. You can’t grow healthy new crops in still-scorched earth.
Taken together, the two Ed’s simply aren’t offering the boldness of vision that Labour needs to be the Party that can rebuild the country. They don’t even sound convinced of what they are saying themselves, and if that is the case, how can they expect to sell their vision to the electorate?