The leader of the opposition was making a keynote policy speech today, not that you’d especially know it. Unsurprising really considering the powers that be thought it would be a bright idea to do this in the week of a major government reshuffle and a series of major policy announcements. So, not like that will break through the thick covering of headlines covering all this. Much like the rail fares vote yesterday, Ed’s speech sunk without trace.
In some ways this is a shame. Accepting the fact that Ed came across as more policy wonk than Prime Minister, quelle surprise, some of the content was quite good. Predistribution is a terrible, cumbersome, term but the content, a living wage, etc is good solid stuff. However, it does suffer from drawbacks, many of which Mark Ferguson cites here and suffers from the trademark vagueness that plagues his pronouncements.
Mark, in his article, cites other failed sallies in Ed’s quest to find an overarching narrative with mass appeal. This is the core problem, it never quite hangs together, it never quite adds up to be more than the sum of its insubstantial parts and this is partially due to Labour’s continued failings in the area of political communications. It looks depressingly like Ed and the top team are thrashing in a gale force wind, clutching desperately onto any straw they can lay their hands on.
We a) don’t have a message and b) when we think we do, don’t make it stick. It’s not so much that people are likely to be horribly against predistribution, its more that they are likely to be left scratching their heads as to what the hell it means. This is due to a chronic lack of self-belife and self-confidence, perhaps unsurprising following ejection from office after a 13 year stint. However it is something we need to find and quickly. Also, as a matter of urgency, Ed needs to gut his comms team and bring in new blood. If he doesnt then predistribution will go the way of ‘predator capitalism’ and ‘responsible capitalism’ and it will fail to capture the mass imagination in the way it needs too.