Sunday, September 25, 2011

Labour & vested interests

Imagine you walked into a shop with a vague intention of buying a vacuum cleaner. You want one that's mid-price and durable. One that will do the job, last for a few years and not break the bank.

Your initial glance around the shelves tells you that there's one right there that probably fits the bill nicely (and indeed, it does - but you're not to know this yet).

Then imagine the salesperson doesn't pay any attention to what you're looking for, but instead starts banging on about a range of irrelevancies. The colour of the thing. The range of unwanted attachments and features. A range of special offers where you get a discount on a washing machine if you buy a particular model. The fashionable traction that a particular brand will bring to your home.

The salesperson also tries to pigeon-hole you into some irrelevant demographic and, on that basis, tries to hard-sell a model that you're instantly sure isn't right for you.

You went in with a simple need on a subject you don't care about that much. The shop could have taken £150 off you effortlessly if they had taken the trouble to look at it from your viewpoint for a few seconds. Instead, you leave the shop with your money and a plan to postpone your purchase and live with the dust for a while longer.

*****************

This week, I heard Ed Milliband and his team mention the words 'vested interests' in the sort of tone that suggests they're against them. There was a bit of muttering about energy companies and supermarkets. There are a range of consumerist, corporate and monopolitstic targets I was hoping to hear added to the list.

I reached for my wallet, so to speak. That's exactly what I'm looking for in a political party, and I doubt if I'm alone in this. I hate the very concept of 'zeitgeist', but if I didn't, I'd have to concede that Ed had hit a very zeitgeisty note with 'tackling vested interests'.

Then a shower of apparatchiks appeared on my radar, one after another, recommending a variety of tactical gambits that they imagine will get Labour across various lines.

To 'regain trust'. To be 'seen as being on people's side'. To 'offer the kind of leadership people are looking for'.

It all focussed upon imagined constituencies. My kremlinology is a bit rusty on this, but I think that the squeezed middle =Brownites, Middle England = Blairites and traditional working class = Blue Labour and so on?

Whatevah! No-one seems to have realised that if you tell everyone that you're on their side simultaneously today you'll get found out tomorrow.

We should offer all kinds of pledges, apparently. There is a parallel universe in which Ed's promise to cap tuition fees is 'genius', it seems.

We should also go around looking for ever-more convincing acts of contrition over our handling of the economy because we have "lost the argument" on that one.

There's even a 'Dragon's Den' event (Fabian Society, I think?) where there's a prize of the 'Election-winning idea'. It's what the term *facepalm* or the concept *flamethrower* was invented for.

If Ed wants to win the next election, I reckon he could do worse than scrapping the annual conference altogether. It's a magnet for paid-up wonks to drown out the conversation Labour needs to have with the public.

Pitching for votes and selling vacuum cleaners. They're jobs that have got a lot more in common than you'd think.

Ed. Do yourself a favour. Start banging on about vested interests all week. Speak of nothing else. For god's sake, give us an enemy that the public can identify with. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests. Vested interests.

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