Miliband’s New Year message hits the nail on the head

What a relief to see Ed Miliband putting out a New Year message that clearly shows, not only that he understands the problems facing his Labour Party, but he also understands how to frame his appeal to the people.

One fact that has become perfectly clear over the last year or so is that many readers of this blog have serious doubts about Mr Miliband and the party he leads. The perception is that he has been seduced by the Tory ‘deficit reduction’ narrative.

This writer has held concerns that Mr Miliband did not realise that the only argument he really needs to use is that of history – that it was the Labour Party that set the UK on three decades of continual growth after World War II.

How refreshing, then, to hear the Labour leader say: “This coming year we mark the 70th anniversary of the end of the Second World War, when our parents and grandparents overcame the most daunting odds to rebuild.

“After the war – badly battered and deeply in debt – Britain rose again.

“We built the NHS, a modern welfare state, homes for people to live in, and still dealt with our debts.

“We set the stage for a generation of progress for working people.

“Today’s challenges are different – but if we could walk through those fires, we surely can meet the problems of our time.”

He’s right, but there will be critics who won’t accept these words. They’ll say that the answer lies in further austerity – in withdrawing the cash that forms the lifeblood of the British economy and is needed to bring growth to the system as it flows through. They’re wrong, but to understand why, we need to examine the historical context provided by Mr Miliband.

So let’s put some flesh on the bones provided by his speech.

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“UK national debt peaked in the late 1940s at over 230% of GDP. From the early 1950s to early 1990s, we see a consistent decrease in the debt to GDP,” according to the Economics Help website.

It continues: “The main reason UK debt to GDP fell in the post-war period was the sustained period of economic growth and near full employment until the late 1970s. This growth saw rising real incomes which in turn led to higher tax revenues and falling debt to GDP ratios.”

“Sustained economic growth” – Ed Balls has made it clear that he intends to stimulate the economy, if Labour is elected into government in May (despite the interruptions of such interviewers as Martha Kearney on BBC Radio 4’s The World At One – she insisted that such plans were irrelevant in the short term and demanded that he tell her what he was going to cut, completely missing the point).

We all know the Conservative-led Coalition ran a policy that stalled the economy for three years. The only reasons it is improving now are the fact that every economic downturn eventually reaches its lowest point and picks up again, plus the economic bubble that George Osborne created in the housing market.

“Near full employment” – Labour has made a return to full employment one of its policy goals. Detractors will say we’re close to that already; the difference is that Labour intends to achieve this with what this blog considers to be proper jobs – not zero-hours contracts or part-time fiddles.

“Rising real incomes” – Under the Coalition, incomes have stagnated, with most families having to endure a real-terms income drop of £1,600 while the richest one per cent have doubled their wealth. Labour plans to raise the minimum wage and push for the Living Wage wherever possible – as a start in its programme to cut income inequality.

“Higher tax revenues” – George Osborne has affected surprise that his policies have led to lower Income Tax returns, but it seems clear that this is an act; the plan was to engineer a drop in tax receipts, in order to justify further cuts to social security and public services. Labour’s plan would reverse this trend.

“Falling debt to GDP ratios” – The Conservative-led Coalition has overseen a catastrophic increase in the National Debt, while continually claiming that the economy is safe with them; because of this, we can look on the 2015 General Election as a measure of our own gullibility. Labour’s plan would bring prosperity back to the UK, allowing us to pay off our debts – just as we did after the Second World War.

Needless to say, the BBC News report of Mr Miliband’s speech completely missed all of these points.

Back to Economics Help: “Note – Debt to GDP fell, despite higher real government spending on the newly formed welfare state and national health service. In fact government spending as a percentage of GDP rose from around 35 per cent of GDP in the early 1950s to the high 40 per cents in the 1970s.”

You see, debt isn’t a problem if you’ve got the economic strength to deal with it. The Coalition has weakened the country; Labour would build up our muscle again.

Another feature of the post-war period was high tax rates – but perhaps that’s a story for another time.

Miliband’s message is a solid statement of hope for the future. Cynics will try to shoot him down – but they’ll need far more substantial arguments than any seen so far.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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22 Thoughts to “Miliband’s New Year message hits the nail on the head”

  1. Great speech bring hope to us all.
    We need Ed and the Labour party to make more posts on YouTube.

    We don’t need the Right Wing Media who will either blackout Labours attempts to communicate with the public or propagate it with lies etc., we can use YouTube and get the facts out there.

    We just need to publicise it so the public know where to go.

  2. Harry

    “but there will be critics who won’t accept these words” … MS.
    My question Mike, is; Why should we? … Surely it is now well known that all parties are owned by the Corporates. That Government itself is a corporation and does not represent the people, and likely never has. It was Red Ed that brought in the climate change Act, remember. Agenda 21 on steroids. Will he repeal that most damaging legislation? I doubt it. Is the economy, as important as that is perhaps, as urgent as, the seemingly unstoppable immigration that has, at least where I live changed forever our culture and environment. Or the approaching apocalypse where power shortages and water shortages provoke cvil unrest. Or where rents and indeed all prices rise beyond the ability of all but the wealthy to pay. Where our hospitals resemble Eugenics institutions as does IDS’ welfare programmes. Let’s hear Labour refer directly to these matters and the burgeoning Police state, concomitant with the sham war on terror. The Panopticon called England is becoming a most unpleasant land under our corporatist authoritarian and increasingly rogue administration.

    1. Mike Sivier

      How can he be ‘Red Ed’ if he’s owned by ‘the Corporates’?
      You contradict yourself, I think.
      From the tone of your comment, I think you’ve been overly influenced by the current government’s worldview.

  3. Mike, you said “Cynics will try to shoot him down” – looks like Tony Blair is the biggest cynic of the lot!

  4. Tony Blair apparently did not say what the papers say he said. he has said so in a different paper, think the guardian

  5. Rob

    Nice words. but spoken from his lips its just lies meant to make ignorant people vote for him. labour, tories, lib dems, ukip, they are all the same, vote in any of those 4 parties and the country will not be different in 10 years no matter which one you vote for. they all work to the same agenda and spin the same lies to anyone who will listen. would never have that man running my country. He is right, we need change, and a new direction, but those parties are not the ones who will give that to us.

    1. Mike Sivier

      It’s interesting how so many people like yourself are keen to come along and tell us this – almost all of you exactly the same – flying in the face of the evidence. It’s the “They’re all the same” speech that Lynton Crosby wants to circulate in order to put people off voting.
      I notice you don’t advocate any particular party as an alternative.
      My take on this is that Labour is the best choice as a party that intends to work for all of us – or as many as possible.
      If you want to vote for minority interest parties – the Tories, UKIP, the SNP (in Scotland), Plaid (in Wales), the Greens – then that’s a vote for selfishness (although the Greens are saveable if they just ditch the bitches in their ranks).
      The Liberal Democrats are, of course, a lost cause.
      Let’s not even mention the far right parties filled with stormtroopers.

      1. I think it would be helpful Mike if you repost the article on the list of achievements by labour and the failures and tyranny of the coalition! (just a thought)

      2. Mike Sivier

        Maybe – although some will simply take that as an opportunity to pick holes in the claims made there.

  6. Nicholas Blanch

    It was a good speech, and unusually was not matched by a similar message from David Cameron. Being subscribed to mailing lists from both parties, I have often found the Conservatives to be more prolific in sending out messages to the people that have chosen to offer a way of being contacted than Labour. I’m waiting and hoping, however, that it will be matched in Labour’s policy plan for government. I’m still looking for that.

    Ed Milliband seems like a good leader, he’s thoughtful and reasonable and while he follows an ideology, he doesn’t let it blind him to real situations and their needs. I just hope that he picks like-minded followers. I could see myself voting for him if he had a proposed cabinet that approached problems the way he seems to and policies that match the statements of his recent public messages .

    I’m also hoping that Mr Milliband (and most others, to be fair, but this comment is about him) will find some time to ditch the personal attacks in his regular House of Commons debates. Having now found the time to have watched some of these in action, I find myself shocked that rather than reasoned discourse I generally feel like I’m looking at a ‘Speak-Off’ between schoolyard bullies. The running of our country deserves sober, respectful debate on the issues, not cheap barbs backed up by cheers and boos from the rest of the House of Commons.

  7. He has been far too quiet for far too long for my liking. This is especially so on the deadly and vicious Welfare Cuts and sanctions that has seen over 2.2 MILLION innocent British people now DEAD in the ground. I have been extremely disappointed in Miliband since he became leader. I await with bated breath to see what happens next.

    1. Mike Sivier

      I’ve asked this before: Please provide your source for the 2.2 million deaths you suggest. I’d love to use that figure but won’t be doing so without solid evidence to support it.

      1. I will try and find the source to that figure.

      2. Mike Sivier

        I’ll be grateful.

  8. Well said Ed and you as well Mike.” Hope springs eternal ” We have to redouble our efforts on the social media to reach as many voters as we can, We should raise the alert about the change in voter registration and overcome the vitriol that will be spewing forth from ALL the media with the exception of what few left wing papers we have. You are right to hammer home that only Labour will do. It is traditionally the party of the mass of working people and though toying with the ideas of the far right on issues like immigration the vast majority know subconsciously that the problems are caused by the financiers and corporate bodies which bleed everyone dry. It would seem that Ed has been keeping his powder dry and is listening less to the SPADS and recalling what he learnt at his father Ralphs knees. If he stays on this message and it reaches the people then we could have a repeat of 97. What a wasted decade that was. Not to worry that was then this is now. There are some who would argue another 5 years of this lot would bring the dawn of revolution. The sick, disabled and working poor and pensioners can’t wait that long.

  9. Landless Peasant

    I cringe every time Miliband refers to “working people”, “those in work”, “hard working families”, etc. whenever you hear such phrases read between the lines, it means “not you, you idle scrounging doley f***ers, you’re on your own and we’re doing f*** all to help you”.

    1. Mike Sivier

      No, that would be when Tories use such phrases.

      1. Landless Peasant

        Miliband is no different. That’s why he uses such language. Always “working” this and “working” that, never anything about helping people who are unwaged. Always the emphasis placed upon those in work. Never anything about increasing State Benefits to the right amount. Never anything about curbing, or better still abolishing, sanctions. Could Miliband live on £68 per week, or even less if sanctioned? Could he hell.

      2. Mike Sivier

        Are families struggling to survive on the low benefits you mention not hard-working, then?

  10. must admit, it has worried me that he hasn’t said anything about those on benefits, the assessments, the austerity measures n sanctions. i am just hoping that he is keeping quiet on these so the cons don’t use his ideas n botch it. or maybe,, so the cons don’t do something else to scotch his ideas. peoples lives/livelihoods are at stake. not robots after all. so hopefully just a case of cards near chest

  11. Do our commenters not think that Ed might just be deciding which battlefront to fight on. Raise the issue for the enemy to divert the electorate away from the big issue of bankers and tax dodgers not a good idea. He has set the agenda of fairness and compassion.

  12. I am not surprised but I am disappointed with the speech – too vague – and his presentation – too staged. The only moment that captured me was in the final moments when I saw the steel and anger in his face. Give me more of that understanding to get rid of the crap we have now.

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