Wednesday, 25 September 2013

So They Put Their Eds Together and This is What They Came Up With.

I have been reading Damian McBride's book over the last couple of days. It's far less sensational than you might expect but one revelation for me is how close Ed Miliband and Ed Balls have been for many years. They worked together in the treasury team under Gordon Brown and if McBride's words are to be believed (for once) work extremely effectively together.

So perhaps it shouldn't be a surprise that this week the two Eds came up with something quite impressive. Despite the threat that the publication of Damian McBride's book and inevitable speculation about what Gordon Brown, Ed Miliband and Balls knew or didn't know about McBride's activities, they managed to pull off a Labour party conference which could represent quite a pivotal moment in the fortunes of the Labour party.

The policy announcements and general sense of where Labour are at and are aiming, has suddenly shifted. Instead of chasing the 'centre-ground' as Labour did in the past to win three back-to-back election victories, Labour have resorted to sounding far more like the Labour of old with their policy announcements and talk of 'socialism'!

In the past this would have been seen as a disastrous move for Labour. Tony Blair made enormous efforts to disassociate the Labour party with the failed socialist policies of the 1970s. But as the two Eds have realised, times have changed.

Whilst Cameron has been slavishly chasing the 'centre-ground', the aspirational want-to-get-on in life vote without much success, Labour have realised that the game has changed.

Today there is no great groundswell of aspirational people out there who simply want a government to unshackle them and let them succeed in a free enterprise economy. That was an 80s and 90s thing followed by a period in which people were adequately reassured by Blair that he wouldn't reverse things..

Instead today, there are lots of people who see unfairness - unpunished and overpaid Bankers, overpaid media and corporate executives, uncontrolled immigration and uncontrolled spiraling energy costs supporting yet more overpaid executives.

The two Eds and the Labour party have worked very hard over the last couple of years at fomenting this sense of injustice and placing the blame for it, and associating it with, the Cameron government despite the fact that much of it can be far more logically associated with them and the previous Labour government.

Ed Miliband's 'socialist' policy announcements in his speech yesterday no longer reek of the Stalinist, statist nightmare that they once would have. Now they appeal to people as long overdue changes.

Miliband knows that if he can keep his core vote and hold back the small drift to UKIP of the last year or so, then he can make it to No10 in 2015 with a decent working majority. Labour supporters were gleeful yesterday because they found themselves hearing the sort of things that they had longed to hear Tony Blair say but knew that he couldn't for fear of scaring off the 'centre-ground' voters that were his key to electoral success. Miliband succeeded in captivating his core vote.. his key to No10.

Cameron now needs to make a big leap forward. The game has changed, and now Ed Miliband has changed it even more.


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