If you didn’t like New Labour much, then you have something in common with Ed Miliband — who appears to have loathed it. He’s just given his first speech of the year to the Fabian Society, the torch-bearers of an older type of socialism, and his audience was left in no doubt that if elected, he would offer a very different type of left-wing politics to that he helped served up when working for the Blair/Brown governments.
Miliband has hammered nails into the coffin of New Labour before, notably in a speech in September 2010 just days after he was elected Labour leader. Today, he wanted to make sure the coffin was hermetically sealed. Take what he said on the economy:
‘It begins from the truth that New Labour did not do enough to take on the vested interests and bring about structural change in our economy.
‘Now, New Labour did challenge the old trickle-down economics by redistributing from the top. But again it didn’t do enough to change our economy so that it grew from the middle out, not from the top down.’
Of course, there is no such thing as ‘trickle-down economics’ and no economist has ever self-identified as an adherent to this concocted set of beliefs. But it’s a useful straw man for Labour, wheeled our more under Neil Kinnock than Tony Blair. But there’s more.
‘New Labour was right to talk about rights and responsibilities but was too timid in enforcing them, especially at the top of society. And it was too sanguine about the consequences of rampant free markets which we know can threaten our common way of life.’
So Labour expands the size of the state more over a decade than any other country, over any other decade. And the problem was not state profligacy nor the what we now know to be the worst economic overheating in modern British economic history, but the free market.