Fraser Nelson

Miliband’s plan for the country

Miliband's plan for the country
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The exchange that follows is not a spoof. It happened on the Today programme this morning and simply defies parody. David Miliband is taking of the need for "radical change". James Naughtie says that it "failed to occur". He replies: "No no no. It did occur on the economy. You cannot deny that we have been anything but extremely radical on the economy." Nor would I deny it. But to suggest this is a good thing? This, seriously, is what Miliband proposes. It is material that can launch a thousand Tory attack posters: Miliband is literally pointing to the economy, the banking mess, and using it as an example if what Labour can do. In his jaw-dropping phrase, " It’s our job to make the unconventional conventional". Here is the full exchange.

DM: Last year I wrote an article saying that ‘we needed a radical new phase in Labour policy’.

JN: But we haven’t had that. That’s the point.

DM: If I had come on this programme last August and said ‘The best example of a radical new phase is the Labour Government to own two thirds of Lloyds Bank, that’s real radicalism’ you’d have said ‘you must be absolutely barking;

JN: But you were forced into that. The idea that this was a choice on the part of the government is absurd, Mr Miliband.

DM: No no no. I’m sorry. It is absurd to say that the government did not choose to own two-thirds of Lloyds Bank

JN: (laughing) It ‘chose’ to own it in the context of the biggest financial crash for 80 years.

DM: And we did the right thing.

JN: (scoffing) really.

DM: Hang on. And on the economy, we have shown what a radical new phase means. We’ve proved that it was the right thing to do. Yesterday Lloyds Bank paid back £2.6bn. Now we’ve had the coldest electoral shower imaginable. We have to ask ourselves in other areas – on political reform, on public services and on international policy – what’s the equivalent of unconventional thinking? What’s the equivalent of owning two-thirds of Lloyds Bank? Our Foreign Secretary raises an interesting question. Can CoffeeHousers help him out and suggest an answer? What is the equivalent to nationalising two-third of Lloyds Bank? Annexing Ireland? Nationalising Marks & Spencer? Making a pile of 100 million £10 notes, then setting them alight? Remember, the above is the considered view of a senior member of the Cabinet, a holder of one of the great offices of state, and his clear message is that "you ain't seen nothing yet".  As he said earlier, Labour''s mission is "half complete in respect of political reform, it’s half complete in respect of economic reform, its half complete in respect of social reform." Just consider the politcial, economic and social mess we're in - and think what 100% would be. I think those crafting the Tory campaign messages can go for an early lunch today.

Written byFraser Nelson

Fraser Nelson is the editor of The Spectator. He is also a columnist with The Daily Telegraph, a member of the advisory board of the Centre for Social Justice and the Centre for Policy Studies.

Topics in this articlePolitics