Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Ed Miliband sets the tone for Labour

So a new Labour leader and not the Miliband we were expecting. What should we make him? Well he made his first speech as leader today and I have to say I was pleased with some of the things he said.
The speech was called ‘The New Generation’ and was not subtle in its message that Ed Miliband represents a break from the past. It also tried hard to position the Labour Party as representing a new generation in Britain with a different take on the world. And in this, I think he did a good job.
Personally I found some of the lines appealing like:
This generation wants to change our society so that it values community and family, not just work, because we understand there is more to life than the bottom line’
This tries hard to tap into the ‘flexible working culture’ and speaks to the desire that so many have to effectively balance their work with their family life. Finding a way to balance these competing demands is a real effort and one which I see consuming so many of my friends and family, particularly when their children are small. So with this, Ed struck a chord with me.   
He also spoke of the opportunity that exists to make a change.
As we emerge from the global economic crisis, we face a choice: we can return to business as usual or we can challenge old thinking to build the new economy we need.
Not revolutionary lines, I accept but an import sign all the same, that rebuilding Britain’s economy does not have to mean rebuilding the same inequalities and the unfairness that existed in the past.
But the question I really wanted answered was how much does Ed sign up to the Better Way Campaign? Well, I think he is definitely moving in that direction.  But I will let you decide for yourself. Here is what he had to say on the deficit and the Coalitions’ plans:    
I am serious about reducing our deficit.

But I am also serious about doing it in a way that learns the basic lessons of economics, fairness and history.

Economics teaches us that at times of recession governments run up deficits.

We were too exposed to financial services as an economy so the impact of the crash on the public finances was deeper on us than on others.

We should take responsibility for not building a more resilient economy.

But what we should not do as a country is make a bad situation worse by embarking on deficit reduction at a pace and in a way that endangers our recovery.

The starting point for a responsible plan is to halve the deficit over 4 years, but growth is our priority and we must remain vigilant against a downturn.

You see when you cancel thousands of new school buildings at a stroke, it isn’t just bad for our kids, it’s bad for construction companies at a time when their order books are empty.

It’s not responsible, it’s irresponsible.

When you deprive Sheffield Forgemasters of a loan, a loan from government which would be paid back, you deprive Britain of the ability to lead the world in new technology.

It’s not responsible, it’s irresponsible.
And when you reduce your economic policy simply to deficit reduction alone you leave Britain without a plan for growth.

It’s not responsible, it’s irresponsible and we should say so.

No plan for growth means no credible plan for deficit reduction.

And nor should we reduce the deficit without learning the basic lessons of fairness.

We must protect those on middle and low incomes. They did nothing to cause the crisis but are suffering the consequences.

I say the people who caused the crisis and can afford to do more should do more: with a higher bank levy allowing us to do more to protect the services and entitlements on which families depend.

And we should learn the basic lessons of history.

After 1945, we had the biggest debt we have ever had.

That generation cut the deficit but they had a bigger vision: for a new economy and a good society.

True patriotism is about reducing the debt burden we pass on to our kids.

But Mr Cameron, true patriotism is also about building an economy and a society fit for our kids to work and live in.

You were the optimist once but now all you offer is a miserable, pessimistic view of what we can achieve. And you hide behind the deficit to justify it.
Helen Martin - STUC

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