In a clear attempt to define his campaign message as being distinct from front runner David Miliband and Brownite stalwart Ed Balls, Ed Miliband yesterday called for the Labour Party to cut ties with the New Labour Era and remember that “we didn’t lose the election by being too Left Wing.”
Addressing members at a Q and A session in Scunthorpe, Ed Miliband continued to demonstrate that for many in the Labour Party he is the best man to lead the movement into the “new political era. The electoral map has changed and we need to recognise that and change with it. People under forty no longer vote in large numbers, and when they do it is without the former familial or tribal loyalties”.
Ed, whilst acknowledging the “monumental achievements of thirteen years of Labour in power”, pointed out that we came “too late to an industrial policy”, and that issues around affordable housing and a feeling that we were “squatters in power” allied to a “loss of trust over Iraq” had led to us becoming disconnected from the people we were meant to serve and there had been a general fogging of “who were are and what the Labour Party is for”.
LoveYourPolitics took the liberty of taking masses of notes during the two hour meeting and below is a summary of some of the key points covered.
The meeting was far more enjoyable and lively than the two Hustings events I have attended due to the Chair actually trusting the members to ask pertinent questions. This re enforced Ed’s opinion that for too long there has been a perception that the job of the Leader is to protect the Party and the country from the Labour rank and file. A poisonous hangover from the Militant years.
On Politics: “When I knock on doors my background as the son of immigrants to this country means that I really understand the ability of politics to make a difference in people’s lives.”
On the Labour Party: “We became Managers in Government rather than people who were there with a real passion and opportunity to change Society for the better. It is urgent that we get into power and the nature of the Coalition means that we aren’t faced automatically with the depressing prospect of a five year majority Tory Administration, but we must recognise straight away and in the here and now that New Labour solutions will not see us get back into Government. We have stopped being clear on who we are. Moving forward I want to see the four million Trade Union Political Levy payers have a more active role in the Party and meet up every three months to have a better understanding of policy making and their role in it. Finally we must learn and make the most of all 650 CLP’s and not just the ones with MP’s and Councillors”.
On Power: “We need to stop being embarrassed about who we are and what we stand for, the Tories aren’t entitled to Power and we shouldn’t feel like squatters when we are in Government or end up taking decisions because we are scared of the press.
On the Coalition: “ It is vital that we regain power and it must be our priority to lever the government from office. There are in effect four million non Tory votes which went from us since 1997 and we must win them back. We must understand the electoral “map” has changed and we must change with it”.
On Policy: The term “Industrial Policy” is an old fashioned phrase but one that we came to recognise too late. The scrappage scheme showed that direct Government intervention can work. The Government has a central role to play in job creation. A Graduate Tax based on the ability to pay should replace tuition fees, this is a key Socialist (Yes, he DID use the “S” word!) principle that should be put into action. I won’t oppose Ken Clarke for the sake of it and his review of short sentencing is sensible, prison does not always “work” for these offenders and we should be looking at a better balance with community sentencing”.
On Foreign Policy: We need to make amends on Foreign Policy and recognise that we lost trust over Iraq. The blockade of Gaza is a disgrace and any EU trade deal with Israel must be linked to it being lifted immediately.”