Ed Miliband and the Internal Deflection…

Ed Miliband’s record and direction as Labour leader is developing into a burning issue. For me, his consistent hails to LibDem members/supporters/voters, for instance, is evidence of attempted internal deflection; in other words – instead, of spelling out Labour’s vision and differentiation to the Coalition, Ed Miliband focuses upon the easier target. This can be effective, projecting your internal problems onto others wins votes – especially given the current voting system. But it fails to fundamentally challenge the current political direction of callous, unfair economic, political and social policy. It fails to provide groups who are frequently prevented from having a voice, a voice.

Sadly, the nature of our ‘democracy’ often results in people leaning towards Labour through a lack of choice, apathy and hatred for the current government. I get that, and as I have said before, Labour’s grass-roots are overwhelmingly progressive. Labour’s problem, however, are hierarchical relations shutting out these progressive views, as the leadership becomes increasingly defined by the vested interests of the media and corporations etc. Of course, this isn’t to deny the need to appeal to LibDem voters. But this should happen naturally, if Labour concentrated on articulating a new vision/path.

This wont be addressed if Labour Mps make out that Labour are ‘bogged’ down in the North, and need to appeal to the ‘squeezed middle’ as Ivan Lewis argued today. Apparently, Lewis believes that Labour are the party standing up for benefit claimants, immigrants and minority groups. But, where are Labour as disabled people protest against their support and services being viciously cut? Why do Labour support ATOS, ESA and tougher welfare requirements, whilst buying into the welfare ‘scrounger’ rhetoric? I could go on, but Labour have a lot of questions to answer when it comes to sticking up for the frequency oppressed.

It’s all part of a neoliberal framing and hegemonic discourse that stigmatise those who do not see the current social, economic and political hardship as the remedy/’truth’. This is taking place at an international level, too, as shown by the recent imposition of boundary checks for European countries, playing up to neoliberal and racist scare stories. This is also true when considering the effects of European, specifically Euro Zone, country guidelines regarding the deficit and debt levels – placing substantial pressure upon countries to cut with venom. Labour’s own internal problems do relate, but there are notable grass-root movements, inside and outside Labour, which provide substantial ability for resistance. Regardless, the current global system is unsustainable, as is Labour’s and Ed Miliband’s deflection.

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5 thoughts on “Ed Miliband and the Internal Deflection…

  1. Hi Jane,
    Excellent blog-post, as ever!
    I can’t disagree with you in your analysis.

    However, my take is perhaps slightly different. Unless I’m mis-reading your post, you seem to imply that Ed Mil is choosing to avoid dealing with the internal problems; but I am more hopeful (or naive) because I believe that Ed Mil wants to shift Labour a tad to the Left and articulate an alternative vision to the Tory-Liberal govt’s. Behind the scenes, he must surely be working on this necessary gradual transformation?

    The Shadow Cabinet is elected by the PLP every two years, so the leader is obliged to give shad cab positions to those elected by the PLP. But the PLP is disproportionately Blairite (due to past patronage), and so the shad cab is not ‘of one mind’ with Ed Mil and is not representative of the wider Labour movement. It will take time to change this situation, to persuade some MPs to alter their views, and to rectify the balance.
    Worse, it seems that the Blairite right-wing of the party are currently seeking to re-write history and regain control of the party for themselves. e.g. after the defeat in Scotland, where the SNP seemed to gain support for some social democratic policies, Douglas Alexander announced pre-emptively that the defeat was the fault of “traditional Labour” who failed to appeal to “middle class and aspirational voters”. So, Alexander (and others) want to shift Labour further to the Right, and compete against the Tories for power (as a managerial, neoliberal, right-of-centre party of govt).

    I totally agree with your summary sentence that the situation is unsustainable, in each of the ways you list.
    There really is no future in it.
    But, as we’ve discussed in other threads, neoliberals are self-centred, arrogant and dominated by their own fears. In desperation, some Blairites must be trying really hard to convince themselves that they can win more votes than the Tories in a narrowed contest where several millions of people are effectively given no candidate to vote for. [this elitist strategy: a) treats the Green Party as an irrelevance, unable to field a candidate in numerous constituencies and b) shows contempt for left-of-centre Labourites.]

  2. On Welfare, there is one fundamental probability which Labour have yet to face up to.
    Focus groups & research told Liam Byrne that ordinary Labour voters want the party to have a tough policy on welfare. Really? I wonder how the question was phrased, because I’d reckon that most Labour voters would want a welfare policy which supports genuine claimants (who are the majority, by far) but is tough on the minority of cheats who play the system.

    Anyway, the thing is …
    for those who don’t claim welfare, a tough policy may or may not be deemed desirable, but is not going to decide how they vote. They will instead decide on issues which are high priority to them – be it the economy, the NHS, civil liberties or whatever.
    But for those whose survival depends on welfare benefits, the tone of Labour’s policy will have a huge bearing on how they vote (or abstain from voting).

    Thus, a tough policy will not of itself win Labour many votes … but a tough policy, using benefit scrounger rhetoric, is likely to cost Labour heavily in votes.

    And a policy of supporting genuine claimants, while clamping down on the minority of cheats, would not only be the right thing to do – being a lot less damaging than the “welfare to work” approach adopted by New Labour – but actually it would be electorally advantageous to Labour as a bonus..

  3. Thankyou, Chris! I am glad you liked the blog.

    I think Ed Miliband doesn’t know what he wants. I think there is a big part of him that is wanting to move away from the New Labour right wing direction, BUT he is too scared by the Daily Mail and Sun ‘red Ed’ jargon to embrace this change in direction. He talks about moving towards the centre, which obviously involves moving to the left, but then he says that he isn’t ‘red Ed’. He hasn’t got a coherent narrative, and that’s a key problem!

    I agree with your analysis re the PLP, there is a problem of connecting the wider Labour movement with the party leadership – and the Blarite fraction are a key cause of concern – especially, if they manage to find someone to potentially challenge Ed Miliband.

    True re welfare, it reminds me of the Thick of It – and the focus group, where an actor is used by Hugh as ‘middle England’ – not sure if you have seen that, but a laugh, anyway. I think what you are saying about the welfare is interesting. The problem is, that all main parties are focusing on the few (£1bn money wise, in fact) people who are frauding, whilst ignoring the fact that most people are living in near poverty on welfare, and that is why most of the few that commit welfare fraud do. Let’s not forget the biggest welfare fraudsters are the Royal Family! hah.

  4. Hi Jane,
    I’m stunned by this piece of submerged news, and feel I ought to share with you.
    Yesterday, I was directed to a piece in The Scotsman. It confirms my belief that Ed Mil is astute enough to know what’s what.
    But he did this abroad, to a friendly audience of European progressives. Why not here? Is he waiting for the right moment, when he thinks the British public may be ready to listen to him?
    Phil
    ~ ~ ~ ~
    The Scotsman, 25th May :
    A fortnight ago Ed Miliband was in Oslo for the Progressive Governance Summit. […] On the response to the global financial crisis he said: “Our opponents are weak in one key respect – their response to a crisis of neo-liberalism is more neo-liberalism.” As for the UK, he observed that the “new inequality in Britain is not between the rich and the poor, but between the rich and everyone else” on top of which “intergenerational inequality is one of the issues of this century”. His aim for the economy? “More active and interventionist industrial policy can create middle skill, middle wage jobs” – the decent incomes that ordinary families in middle Britain need and expect […]

  5. :O Wow! That’s really interesting, thanks for sharing. To say Ed can say that and not a whisper of that gets into the news, or mainstream coverage says a lot!

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