David Blackburn

Too clever by half, Miliband pitches for the squeezed middle with the vacuous promise of change

Too clever by half, Miliband pitches for the squeezed middle with the vacuous promise of change
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Ed Miliband has made an inauspicious start to his second political relaunch of the week. The Sun has dubbed him Buzz Lightweight, after he adopted the Pixar-inspired catchphrase ‘Beyond New Labour’ to describe his vision for the party. Miliband’s media presence is already wooden; migrating to plastic is hardly a promotion.

Miliband and his elders have arrived at Labour’s national policy forum. In so far as it’s possible to determine what he stands for, Miliband is not aiming for the middle ground of British politics, as David Cameron and Tony Blair did. But he is courting the ‘squeezed middle’ with the promise of change. So far, that promise is more vacuous than profound – the new boss looks like the old boss. Miliband’s two concrete policies are the retention of a 50 percent tax rate and the sacrosanct universality of the welfare state.

So far, Miliband’s leadership has been dominated by those purely ideological issues (oh yes, and the unions and the splits in his Shadow Cabinet). It is painfully Westminster-centric; a pseud's fantasy. He mentions inequality as a thoeretical proposition, but has not addressed its realities. He has nothing to say about rising living costs, stagnant real wages, benefit cuts and marginal tax rates, and he has said nothing about the social impact of these issues or how communities, society and the state can mitigate the misery and relieve the strain. (John Cruddas said more about those concerns in 5 minutes at the IEA on Wednesday night than Miliband has managed in two months.)To be honest, Howard Flight is more in touch with the ordinary working voter.