David Blackburn

David Miliband would set the people free

David Miliband would set the people free
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What is it about the Blairite passion for abstract nouns? I ask, not out of facetiousness, but because I want to know what they mean by loose terms such as ‘empowerment’. David Miliband joins James Purnell among the progressive left’s thinkers who are reimagining the relationship between state and citizen, and he gave a concept heavy, substance light speech to Demos this afternoon. I’ve read it a couple of times and can’t get my head round it.

Peering through the glass darkly, the central concept is attractive: Miliband wants to give more power to the people. Some valid policies season his argument. For instance, the 1 week cancer pledge would be a victory for the consumer over the bureaucrat, if only it could be afforded.

Miliband was thrifty with the details of ‘empowerment’ and with good reason – you will not have forgotten that this government encouraged an employment boom where two thirds of new jobs created between 1997 and 2007 were in the public sector. New Labour was wedded to big government; does Post-New Labour have the wherewithal to escape that loveless match? If Miliband’s international ambitions are anything to go by, Labour wants Britain to elope with even more domineering partner:

‘But localisation is not a strong enough recipe for powerful people in the modern world.  Localisation without internationalism just means sink or swim.  This applies in spades in our relations with the European Union:

- We will not make the transition to being a low carbon economy without European regulation.

- We will not make the transition to systemic financial regulation without effective European regulation.

- We will not make the transition to effective security for an age when terrorism not invasion is our risk, without effective European security cooperation.’

No wonder I can’t make head or tail of what he’s talking about.