Monday, 6 December 2010

Opposition & Labour

Even with incredulous-looking poll ratings Ed Miliband's position seems tenuous. Labour blusters furiously for a couple of hundred million ring-fenced for school sport whilst its MP's practise the new sport - bullying the Liberal Democrats. Meanwhile, the most radical government for a century takes apart - brick by brick - the old centralised, bureaucratic state that built Labour. 

The opposition have yet to realise just how radical this Coalition really is. The largely spent and thinly typecast cries of 'Thatcher's children' betray the irrelevance of Ed Miliband's position - testament only to his continuing politics of the twentieth century. A futile clinging to the nakedness of old labour's tax & spend that brought us to near destruction. A leader of vision is needed to move Labour on, engage and begin to contribute to the new political settlement.

The glue that binds this Coalition is a smart, de-centralised, bottom-up agenda that unifies the Cameron/Liberal tradition across the full spectrum of government. Even the Thatcherite right - so hated in Labour's caricature of laissez-affair and social stigma - remains mercifully irrelevant.

Ed Miliband increasingly finds himself on the wrong side of each radical reform - the latest being tuition fees, without which universities have no long term future (thanks to Labour's deficit) whilst the settlement is both progressive and enhances fairness - despite the obviously selfish arguments of the 'kettled generation'. What is more interesting is how vociferously students reject debt when it belongs to them. In the public sphere, only Labour it seems, so dismissively believes in debt.

This Coalition is effectively beginning to question the reason behind Labour's existence. The central tenet of the Coalition's agenda - progressive fairness - coupled with putting people at the heart of government, will become increasingly and deeply compelling, the further it progresses. Labour needs to be there.