Miliband makes his play: do everything the same

It’s daft enough that the Tories are scared of Labour; but Labour is scared of itself, too


At last, the Labour Party leaders are revealing their election strategy. They’ve announced they'll stick to the current Government’s spending plans, and the current Government’s welfare cap. Next week, Ed Miliband will announce:“The British people are sick and tired of the way this Government runs the country, and that’s why we promise to do everything exactly the same. There are so many things they’ve ruined, which is why I assure you categorically we will keep ruining the same things. THAT is the exciting prospect we will be putting to the British people in 2015.”

As the election draws near, Labour will become more specific, until Miliband says: “To show how responsible we have become, we promise that if we win the election, for the first two years we’ll let the Tories carry on as the government. We’ll even go on holiday so as not to get in their way, on a cruise round the fjords so we won’t even be able to get back quickly if we get the urge. THAT is how much you can trust us with the economy.”

Many great inspiring speeches in the past have used this technique. That’s why so many people were moved by Martin Luther King, when he said: “I have a dream, to keep everything pretty much as it is. I have looked into the valley, brothers and sisters, and seen a world in which we don’t bother trying to change any of the laws as they’re all in place now, and you don’t want to get a reputation for making a fuss. Will you join me in that struggle, my people, will you join me?”

The peculiar side of Labour’s announcements this week is that bits of them do challenge the ideas of the Coalition. For example, the part about housing benefit did suggest that landlords are at least partly responsible for the levels of rent that are set by landlords.

But these were buried underneath the sections such as sticking to the Coalition’s welfare cap, which were designed to make the headlines. It’s daft enough that there are Conservatives in this country who are still scared of a Labour government, but even more baffling is that Labour is scared of itself.

So Ed Miliband had to include in his speech an insistence that he wouldn’t tolerate “worklessness passed from generation to generation”, probably in response to Iain Duncan Smith’s complaint about families in which “three generations have never worked”.

But, according to a survey by the Rowntree Foundation, only 0.1 per cent of households have two generations that have never worked, and they couldn’t find a single one, anywhere, in which three generations have never worked.

So the Government and opposition are arguing about who’s most able to defeat a problem that doesn’t exist. Maybe Ed can insist on looking just as tough on other non-existent problems. He can announce at the Labour conference: “I assure the hard-working families of Britain that I will not allow, under any circumstances, one single area of Dorset to be over-run by pumas. I know some people will say ‘surely it won’t matter if a few of them swarm across Lyme Regis’, but I’M NOT HAVING IT, and, furthermore, no puma in the region under a Labour government will receive ONE penny of housing benefit.”

Then he can assure us that there will be no public money spent on teaching kids Quidditch, or on local councils paying for Justin Bieber to sing the agenda at the start of parish meetings, and we’ll know he’s right hard on spending.

You get a sense of how frightened of themselves the Labour leaders are, from the comments made by Mervyn King, the outgoing Governor of the Bank of England. He said the public had “every right to be angry about bankers”, and he was “surprised more people weren’t angry sooner”.

This is the chief banker, admitting that he was thinking “oh, come on, chuck something at us, how much provocation do you need, you wimps?” Similarly, a survey this week revealed a majority of senior bankers say there are still “excessive rewards” being paid to those running the banks.

Soon the bankers, and those responsible for the £25bn lost each year through tax avoidance, will say: “Please someone stop us robbing you like this. We’ve taken so much now we want to be caught, so we can be treated. Don’t keep blaming non-existent three-generation-unemployed families, it’s our fault.” And Ed Balls will reply: “I know a way to cut spending. I assure everyone that for the first 12 years of a Labour government we will spend no money on wheelchairs. If anyone’s desperate they can build themselves a trolley out of Corn Flakes packets and a Tupperware dish.”

The most tragic bit might be that the strategy is designed, in part, to soften the attacks from the press on Labour. But these announcements probably won’t even do that. Labour could make a statement that they were spending absolutely nothing ever again, and local councils would be run by Tibetan monks who only ate fallen fruit and teachers would be made to forage for squirrels. And the same newspapers would scream that Labour were planning to steal your pension and take your floorboards as tax, and make your granny go on the game and give the money to a family that’s lived in a two-mile wide plasma screen television since 45BC.

A better strategy might be for Ed Miliband to hire a boxing trainer, and every time Ed gets up to speak, he can hear the trainer behind him saying: “Stand up for yourself, son. Go on, stand up for yourself.”

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Project Manager with some Agile experience

£45000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Chelmsf...

Data/ MI Analyst

£25000 - £30000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client are cur...

KS1 Teacher Cornwall

£23500 - £40000 per annum: Randstad Education Plymouth: Randstad Education Ltd...

Corporate Communications Manager - London - up to £80,000

£60000 - £80000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Corporate Marketing Communications M...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Francois Hollande at the Paris summit on Iraq with ministers from Saudi Arabia and Bahrain on 15 September  

What's going to happen in Syria and Iraq? A guide to the new anti-Isis coalition's global strategy

Jonathan Russell
The colours of autumn leaves are among the many pleasures of the coming season  

In Sickness and in Health: As autumn arrives, more of us should wear high-vis clothes

Rebecca Armstrong
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week