Ed courts Gillian Duffy….
A disturbing pattern is emerging with major speeches by Ed Miliband in which they contain the occasional good rhetorical flourish which is let down by the rest of the speech which, to put not too fine a point on it, is abject rubbish. You can clearly see in every speech Ed makes the influence of spin doctors who aren’t actually very good at their job, desperate to triangulate his every utterance this way and that; you can almost picture the formulation process, ‘well, we’ll toss that in for The Guardian and that bit (underlined in red marker) is for your average Sun reader’. Let’s start with the good stuff from his speech today on immigration. It was good to hear a Labour leader talking about getting tough on reckless employers who pay poverty wages and do everything they can to get out of paying an already paltry minimum wage.
Ed is also actually right that immigration is a ‘class issue’ (wow, a Labour leader uses the ‘c’ word), however, and here the problems being, he has obviously drawn the wrong conclusions from a partially correct diagnosis. His conclusion seems to be that we should not just acknowledge ‘concerns’ over immigration (who, after-all, would be against acknowledgement of anything) but he seems to think we should acknowledge them and swallow them whole. Immigration, like welfare, is one of those areas where politicians seem to think its fine to repeat ignorant twaddle wholesale and that dear reader, is the definition of political opportunism. Let’s take one of Ed’s assertions to illustrate this point. The notion that immigration is what has driven wages down is patently rubbish (as shown here) and leaves a ‘class analysis’ for one that is more likely to be offered by the British National Party. Indeed, it says it all that both the BNP and UKIP are more than satisfied with Mr Miliband’s speech.
In his desperate desire to win votes, Mr Miliband spews forth ignorant twaddle and presents it as an established fact. If he wanted to address the real cause of wage depression, he might, for example, apply himself to addressing the weakening of organised labour power (and therefore the breakdown of collective bargaining). Perhaps he should spend less time reading the Daily Mail and more time investigating the real world. Far from being an economic burden, immigration is an economic boon and the anti-immigration brigade are in danger of doing massive damage to their ‘beloved Britain’. Immigration is also an inevitable side-effect of the increasing globalisation of our world and this is a process nobody can halt or call time on. Rather than be afraid we should embrace the wonder of this experience and where people are afraid our politicians should be confronting those fears head-on with positive arguments not pandering to them and fuelling them with junk economics and shameful politics.
Ed Miliband let himself down and he let the Labour Party down (again) today because he betrayed our purpose as a Party of progress, a brave Party that doesn’t shirk from making the tough arguments, even in the teeth of hostility from our ‘own side’. Instead of bravery we were served up this weak and venal offering, cobbled together to court the E-list celebrity, Gillian Duffy. Today was a shameful episode in his leadership and a betrayal of his promise to extoll Labour values, it seems as a Party we need to remind him what those values are.