1 September 2010

Ed Miliband: no return to the 'tyranny of New Labour' or the 'tyranny of Old Labour'

Of interest to anoraks and anyone with a vote, as from today, in the Labour Party leadership election, The Guardian website has an instructive set of videos in which Polly Toynbee interviews each of the candidates.

Given that Lord Mandelson and I seem to share similar reservations about Ed Miliband (HERE and HERE), I took the trouble to watch the whole of his interview with Ms Toynbee.

Overall, my general impression was that he comes across as rather glib, verging in places on incoherence. And I still can't help wondering whether he has any idea at all about why Labour spent 18 years in the wilderness (or how Blair led them out of it) - given that he was (a) only 10 years old in 1979 and (b) brought up in a family that was presumably much more favourably inclined towards Labour's move to the left than most voters at the time.

More particularly, I was intrigued (and unconvinced) by the 43 seconds in the above clip, where he dismisses claims that he wants to take Labour back to that time as "total nonsense".

Watching it brought a number of questions to mind:

1. Is he saying that the 'tyranny of New Labour' and the 'tyranny of Old Labour' are the same or different things, what does he mean by referring to both as "tyranny" and what exactly is the point he's making here?

2. When he hesitates just after saying "lower" (30 seconds in) - "We lost a lot more lower - uhhh - income group at the general election.." - was he about to say "class" before correcting it to "income groups"?

3. Where does he get the statistics from (33 sec0nds in), how accurate are they and has he forgotten just how many seats Labour lost (that Blair had won and Labour will have to win again) in the South of England?

4. Is he right in claiming that salvation will come from "how we speak to our working class base"?

5. If so, wouldn't rival candidate Andy Burnham's Lancastrian vowels go down rather better with the 'working class base' than Miliband's rather posh-sounding Southern accent (for more on which, see Vowels, voters and the voice of authenticity)?


Sean said...

1. He's saying that fundamentalists on the right and left of the party are incapable of thinking beyond the tired old labels of the past thirty years and lack the imagination to think of a way forward for the party.

2. No. Why do you even suggest this?

3. Rather than mud slinging, why not get hold of the figures to show he is wrong? My understanding is that Labour lost 3% of its support among ABs, 19% among C1s, 39% among C2s and 22% among DEs, which would back up Ed M's assertion?

4. The Labour Party ceases to be a Labour Party if it doesn't represent working class and middle income people. We already have a Tory Party.

5. Shouldn't you give people a little more credit? Don't people vote on the basis of what a party will do for them and for society rather than how they pronounce their vowels?

EGC said...

2. "lower income group" I don't even know what that is. I think you're on the money with a nearly dodged freudian slip.