Wednesday, September 28, 2011

I've not got much love for Ed's Bargain Basement with the nasties in the dark corners #lab11

So, yesterday afternoon, Ed Miliband gave his first proper speech to the Labour Conference. The first, last year, was written hastily after his unexpected victory, but he's had a bit longer to think about this one. Why, then, was last year's better?

And all he could come up with was a so-called "new bargain". That seems to basically mean that those same large corporations and media organisations (Murdoch, anyone?) that Labour sucked up to for years are to re-designated evil and be made to stop ripping us off.  The former energy secretary mentioned energy companies and their rigged market. That same market he did nothing about in office. It takes some nerve to make a campaign issue out of your own failings, I'll give him that.

His speech was all over the place. He went rather clunkily from talking about the operation on his nose to praising Harriet Harman in a handful of words. The structure was all wrong - he'd start a paragraph as though he were addressing Conference but would switch back and forth between addressing Labour and the British people. It just didn't flow.

And somebody really does need to get Ed in a room and sort out his delivery. So many times, interludes for applause saw him make some really weird smirks. He tripped over words and he looked terrified up there.

I think the striking thing was that he was in front of a grey, lifeless backdrop which replaced the usual red, or purple as they adopted for a while. It reflected the lack of ideas and general vacuousness coming from Labour at the moment. I mean, this is their showcase, and so far the best they've come up with is a plan to reduce tuition fees which will make no difference to most people on ordinary incomes and a bizarre idea from the shadow Culture Secretary Ivan Lewis that could have led to the state regulation of journalists.

Now that Ed has the freedom to choose his Shadow Cabinet, we can but hope that Mr Lewis will be sent to the back benches. What gets me is that these speeches aren't delivered in isolation. Somebody will have had to have seen them in advance. If the draft set no alarm bells ringing, that shows that Labour's authoritarian streak runs deep. They just look stupid now, with Lewis having had to sheepishly almost immediately afterwards.

But back to Ed's speech, and thanks to the Torygraph for printing it in full. By far the nastiest bit was his assertion that:

Take social housing.
When we have a housing shortage, choices have to be made.
Do we treat the person who contributes to their community the same as the person who doesn’t?
My answer is no.
Our first duty should be to help the person who shows responsibility.

Should the answer not be to build more affordable housing?

You have to wonder what sort of character test people would have to pass in order to get a council house. Do we just let nice people have housing or do they have to do good works in their communities as well as being nice?

And what do you do to the family with one troubled child who's causing problems - make the entire family homeless? They have to live somewhere. How is this going to help anyone?

Hearing this sort of ill thought out populist bile coming from the mouth of a Labour leader still makes me feel sick. It's bad enough, but expected in a way, to hear it from a Tory. It's become a bit of a triumph of hope over experience to expect any better from Labour but somehow a corner of my heart still does.

So, if you are struggling with various problems in your life, addiction, illness, a child with behavioural issues, despite Florence and Machine's song playing in the background after the speech, you'll find that Ed and Labour don't have love for you.

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