James Forsyth

Ed Miliband pitches for social responsibility

Ed Miliband pitches for social responsibility
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Reading Ed Miliband’s piece in today’s Times on how Labour can win back southern voters, I was struck by this section:

'We need to be clear that part of the job of social democratic politics is to conserve those things in society that free-market Conservatism would destroy. Our communities are too precious to be dictated to by markets. Take the example of how our towns have changed. If you travel through the market towns of the South, too often you find them dominated by late-night bars, clubs and betting shops, even when local people want a more friendly place to live.’

Ed Miliband has made this kind of argument before, but this is the clearest exposition of it. I suspect that this traditionalist argument will chime well with a lot of voters. Few people want their high streets to be full of casinos and strip bars. Indeed, one of the things that boosted Gordon Brown’s popularity in his early months in power was his tougher line on super casinos and late night drinking.  

But Ed Miliband will have a hard time marking this out as distinctive political territory if he wins the leadership. David Cameron has already made the whole social responsibility thing a big part of his agenda. His criticism on Facebook yesterday, was a reminder that he thinks that businesses have responsibilities beyond making a profit.