Miliband could have a legacy even if Labour lose

by David Ward

Most people don’t realise that the guy who invented the computer was a bloke called Tommy Flowers who worked for the Post Office.

Sure Turing made some logic sketches, but it was Flowers who designed and  actually built the machine that broke the German codes. After the war he thought there might be something in it. He wasn’t allowed to say he’d built one before but he took his idea to British banks for funding to build another one. Of course they laughed him out of the office, the Americans took over the industry and the rest is history.

I mention this story because it shows big ideas can quickly become bigger than their creators, and I think Ed Miliband could be on the verge of a big change too.

It’s not exactly news that the post-Thatcher consensus is coming to an end. You only need to look at the fracturing of politics a la the late 1970s to see that the predominant mood out there is uncertainty.

As we know, the entire case Ed has been making since 2010 is that the left doesn’t have to accept rampant capitalism on its own terms. We don’t have to accept that those at the top should reap unsustainable rewards. We don’t have to accept that markets and big corporations can’t be reformed so society and employees benefit too. And we don’t have to accept that people in work still don’t earn enough to live on.

That’s been the pitch. It’s seen him derided in many quarters – even in his own party on occasion. In any normal circumstance Labour should be expecting a chastening during this campaign.

But the funny thing is it hasn’t quite happened. It’s taken a few years of sharpening to get the pitch right but Labour’s message is beginning to cut through. Take a look at this Ipsos Mori published a word cloud of the issues that people have remembered from the last few days. Since the first few debates Ed’s approval ratings have improved markedly.

Labour is still right up there with the Conservatives on the national vote share despite what’s happening in Scotland. If the landscape north of the border hadn’t changed so markedly after the referendum Labour might only be 10 or 15 seats short of a majority after only five years out of power. For a party only one election away from a historic defeat, that’s pretty good going.

That’s all well and good, but there could be an even bigger impact elsewhere. You look at the speech Hilary Clinton gave the other day as she launched her presidential campaign. “Everyday Americans need a champion. I want to be that champion,” Sound familiar? How about Ed’s Senate House speech in November last year “We’re Britain, we’re better than this. Surely the better thing is to construct a vision of the future, which does work for everyday people.” Hilary’s campaign manager tweeted their agenda the other day, top of the list was “Helping working families succeed”. Those same words are the first on the front cover of Labour’s manifesto.

Of course we don’t know if Clinton will win the nomination let along the Presidency, but it looks like a consensus is building in the party even outside the Clinton campaign. Take views of vested interests. “[Hilary] has several times now reaffirmed her position on something that is going to be an important issue next year, which is financial reform” says former Senator Barney Frank. New York Mayor Bill de Blasio has said her vision, “has to include increases in wages and benefits. It has to include the willingness to tax the wealthy so we can invest in infrastructure, so we can invest in education again” Increase in the minimum wage, a mansion tax and a National Infrastructure Commission anyone?

It’s no secret that Ed’s team are working closely with Democratic advisers like David Axelrod or US academics like Jacob Hacker, so maybe we shouldn’t be surprised at finding the rhetoric somewhat reminiscent. But then the kind of problems ‘everyday people’ are facing in the US aren’t so different from those faced over here.

None of us knows what’s going to happen in three weeks time, although the polls suggest Labour is doing well in the marginals where it counts. But even if Cameron hangs on through some constitutional loophole a Democratic President could take these ideas forward. What happens in US usually comes over here in the end, however good or bad it is. Take Justin Bieber.

Maybe one day we’ll look back on the bacon sandwiches, the predistribution, the nasty press stories, and the hard fought campaign. And we’ll think – even if Miliband wasn’t PM this May –  this was the start of the Miliband/Clinton consensus that changed the political narrative.

David Ward is a Labour campaigner in south London

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6 Responses to “Miliband could have a legacy even if Labour lose”

  1. John P Reid says:

    Miliband has embraced various ideas, Purple book, Blue Labour, reforming Labour ,one nation labour, Stand up for labour,
    WhenLord Glasman, said out of context,and end to immigration for a year, Blue labour had a blip, considering its wide circle of support from, Up north, to ex Blairites too, Chuka Ammuna, Mandy Richards, Steven Timms, it was one wing that got criticism , from the likes of Diane Abbott for being White Bigotted Males, not understanding that the connection to local working class communities of the 1950’s didn’t mean that, where there wereRqcist, white working class people in the 1950’s accepting that the community ideas of Co-op ,unions the church and the Fabians, we’re all examples of non racist white working class men of the 1950’s

    stand up for labour a good idea in principle Abu Crispin, had the problem, of being lurched onto by student groups, and left wing protest activists like UAF, and had people like Ava Vidal using it for her own advantage to spout, prejudice stuff ,totally inappropriate to the Labour parties cause, as such with people like Ms Jack Monroe before she went to the greens, embarrassed Labour by saying David Cameron was cashing in on his dead son, or NUS leader, Aaron Kiley, was saying black people cant be racist

    Ed miliband did one good thing getting g rid of Emily Thornberry, over her hypocritical snobbery of tweeting, sneering at white van man, but in the 3 years previous, when Diane Abbott criticized the Juries decision, to return a lawful killing verdict in the Mark duggan case,he never criticized he,

    as the jury had months of evidence to hear, and she as an arm chair expert, didn’t, but she knew best

    Or when Karen a buck. Said the Tories didn’t want the poor to breed, miliband was quite happy to have her as leader,

    I can think of 40 off topic comments, that different labour candidates have said in the last 5 years, including Andy newmans, Stalin and Mao, were great.
    The party has learnt the lesson of 1951 and 1979 and didn’t swing towards the left, but that’s despite Ed, not due to him,

  2. Matt London says:

    Apropos Tommy Flowers (and Allan Coombs who worked with him), the colossus machine though massively impressive, was not a general purpose digital computer and its technology not well adapted for that purpose. Manchester University and Ferranti produced the world’s first commercial computer – closely followed by other British firms – eg Lyons and English Electric. The US dominance of computing emerged later.

  3. swatantra says:

    The same sort of legacy that Kinnock left when he took on the forces of extremism in the Party ie Militant, and paved the way for Blairs attack on Clause IV. Kinnock famously lost, but made the Party more winnable next time round. The Labour Party may well be in the process of morphing into a (Social) Democratic Party pitching a wider appeal to the wider electorate at large, and not narrowed to serving the interests of the few on the left only; there is after all the Squezed Middle to address, and they really are hurting.

  4. John. Reid says:

    Eds legacy ,the Hypocrisy of tax dodging millionaire actor Martin Freeman.when he was backing socialist party last time,I’m sure he felt a lot better, probably why we’re gonna do worse,

    There have been MPs who would have kept quiet on views in the Late 90’s Karen bucks comments the Tories don’t want the poor to breed.

    Elected in 2011 Labour councillor Aaron Kiely thinking he knew best what a jury who’ve heard months of evidence,on Mark duggans shooting, that an arm chair expert, thought the juries opinion was wrong.

    Harriet Harman being quite happy to ignore the law, be it equality ones, with her discrimination is equality, or change the innocent till proven guilty laws, on rape, and that women making rape claims should always be believed

  5. John P Reid says:

    Come to think,

    Len Mcklusky said of the trade union laws they are unjust,and as such can be ignored
    I wonder what the Labour Party thinks ,one of its biggest donors, concerning trade union laws thinks, the law can be broken, when it suits them

  6. John P Reid says:

    Come to think, Although he reprimanded Diane Abbott over heard white people like to play divide and rule, no criticism of her, thinking the juries opinion was wrong,regarding them having heard the evidence of Mark duggan,as an arm chair expert she knew better.

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