Thursday, June 09, 2011

The golden rule: a speech for Ed Milliband to make

Alex Massie's piece in the Spectator is well worth a look. Especially the stuff about "Family and Faith and Country" - this illiberal communitarian streak in both that really just seeks an easy way out of doing local community politics properly.

In the meantime, looking at the spat between Don Paskini and Dan Hodges/Labour Uncut, having heard a short report on the radio the other evening about the quicksand that Labour's apparent policy review has stumbled into, I thought I'd draft a short speech for Ed Milliband that could wake the whole thing up a little bit if he could find the time to read it aloud. It'd also help address this communitarian question.

Here goes:
"Er.... Hi! I'm Ed, and I'm the leader of The Labour Party. We're holding a consultation or something about what we need to do next and I'm a bit concerned that it's going around in circles.

So here's a little nudge in the right direction. Firstly lets ask what sort of party we are - why we were set up and what we're supposed to do.

Any fule kno that (no matter what Socialists / Fabians / Trades Unionists / Mutualists & Co-Operators / Methodists / anyone-elseists tell you) we weren't set up to forward any particular ideological agenda.

As a party, we sprang from the Labour Representation Committee - a group of people who were only really totally united around one question - that ordinary men (sorry ladies - this was a bit before you even got the vote!) should be able to exercise their democratic franchise properly and be able to stand for Parliament without starving to death as a consequence.

The Labour Party's foundation stone was that democracy shouldn't be rigged only in favour of the people who can afford to participate.

This traditional value has a modern setting. No-one should have more influence than anyone else because of what newspapers they own, what campaign groups they can finance, what donations they make to political parties, what school or University they went to, how much time they have on their hands, what their social status is generally - who they know or do business with, or even what they know.

If you have ten useful things to say - based on good evidence - and the person standing next to you has only one flicker of insight to offer, then of course there's no problem with you being ten times more evident in public life. But if I find that things are being driven only by social groups that can afford to produce evidence to support their demands, then I'll have to think of a way of incentivising the social groups that don't get involved to provide a counterbalance.

Anyway, that's it I think? There isn't much else to add. I'm not that bothered about any particular policies you want to argue about as long as nothing cuts across the little golden rule I've just outlined.

I'm fairly sure you're going to fairly busy for the foreseeable just redrafting everything you've written that contradicts this little admonition - obviously, do try and confine yourselves to policies that won't make me look daft when I read them out, but apart from that ...... anything goes!

I'm off on holiday now. See you in September!"

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