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.