Political Promise

Ed’s Summer of Struggle

In Anthony Broxton on July 12, 2011 at 5:42 pm

Anthony Broxton is surprised at Miliband’s decision to admonish the strikes, and believes he is now in for a rough summer ahead, both inside and outside the Labour party.

Ed Miliband has this week adopted a new nickname: RoboEd. Not only did Ed manage to alienate floating voters, he disappointed his party members, trade unionists and whilst doing so found time to share a joke with Clegg and Cameron at Buckingham Palace. The tribal-labour supporting Daily Mirror felt the need to show up the Labour leader. As the pension row has erupted the Unions have every right to feel aggrieved at the sneering antagonism Miliband has towards his ‘comrades’. Where would he be without them? Probably a minor role in his brothers shadow cabinet: I wonder how much Miliband wishes he was there now.

This issue here is why Miliband felt the strike was a mistake. Regardless of the rehearsed and robotic response, Ed felt he needed to strongly distance himself from the day of action. In March however he compared the growing resistance ensuing to the civil rights movement and the suffragette struggles, at the March protest. Even the Labour movement has struggled to define its current role and objective, and for not so red Ed this is a huge problem. The Labour party at its most electoral best has championed the underdog and attempted to usher in a new age of government. Think Atlee and his ‘New Jerusalem’, Wilson and ‘The white heat of a technological revolution’ through to ‘New Labour,New Britain’. But just what can Ed Miliband hope for from the supposed ‘New Generation’ he mentioned in his maiden speech as leader? And here in lies the Labour party’s biggest problem, it offers little to people who are not red-blooded die-hard supporters.

Cameron has played an absolute blinder so far, using Nick Clegg as a shield and playing the Liberals and Labour against each other, particularly in relation to the AV campaign. Despite the cuts, the u-turns, and the student riots, Ed Miliband has struggled to define the purpose of the Labour Party and furthermore looks uncomfortable. So it is no surprise that the Trade Unions are rightly taking the fight to the coalition cuts. This ponders the question – what is the point in Ed Miliband’s Labour Party?

The Labour Party has seemingly, not for the first time, forgotten its roots. I can’t remember the last time a frontline Labour MP truly inspired the public or offered an idea that was radical, challenging or inventive. The party is stuck in a rigid dogma of trying to appeal to the ‘squeezed middle’ and remain financially solvent through the Unions, which of course isn’t new.  Ed Miliband is worried about people in the middle who have to scrimp and save: but ultimately isn’t this just the harsh reality of life for the majority of working class people – particularly the ones in Ed’s own constituency? However many radicals, be it left or right must feel disappointed at the lack of opposition and passion within the Labour movement in relation to the coalition reforms, particularly compared to the 1980’s. The Trade Union, Unite, has lost over 260,000 members since 2007 and its loss of funds will have a knock on effect on the Labour Party.

The reality of the situation in Britain is that class and partisan politics are deeply unfashionable. No politician, with serious ambition, wants to tackle the political hot potato that is class. It was the Trade Unions that created the Labour Party and have so often hampered their progress, the media in particular would prefer political funding from ‘dodgy’ business’ rather than ordinary rank and file Union members.  Owen Jones has argued in his book ‘Chav’ that his agenda is to bring back class as a ‘political variable’ and this is a growing development amongst rank and file Labour members. After 14 years in power Labour disastrously failed to tackle the inequalities within society, and in many cases the poor got much poorer. The middle ground is, for the foreseeable future, dominated by Clegg and Cameron’s cronies and Ed will struggle to muscle in, on recent form especially. If the Labour Party choose to abandon class based politics again, they will struggle. Ed may think it is a smart move to appeal to middle of the road Tory tabloids, with a bit of ‘Chav’ bashing but at the minute Cameron is blaming Labour for everything the coalition has implemented, and has rather shockingly come out the hero.

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