Amol Rajan: Why Ed Miliband wants us to be more like Germany

FreeView from the editors at i

Share
Related Topics

Last week I asked a question about Britain's workforce: how Chinese are we prepared to be? Recent reports from factories in China have shown its workers to be astonishingly productive – often because they are basically slaves.

In a global economy, where businesses have instant access to cheap labour, cheap technology, and cheap innovation in emerging markets, Western workers can't compete. If we're not prepared to be much more Chinese, I suggested, your average Brit is going to find it harder and harder to get by.

It's right and natural that in an age of ultra-globalisation, political leaders look overseas for ideas and inspiration. Before the last election, David Cameron dispatched two of his most senior advisers, Steve Hilton and Rohan Silva, to America, to learn from the wunderkinds of Silicon Valley, and the digital campaigners who masterminded Barack Obama's extraordinary fundraising campaign.

Ed Miliband, pictured, a far more thoughtful and prescient politician than he is generally given credit for, also takes guidance from an overseas example, albeit one closer to home. He has analysed the implications of globalisation, stitched them on to his ideological antipathy towards inequality, and decided that his goal in life is to make Britain not more like China, but more like Germany. The reasons for his doing so have been outlined by Philip Collins, a former adviser to Tony Blair now writing superb columns for The Times. He annoyingly beat me to it.

Here's the deal. The two most interesting thinkers in Ed Miliband's tent are Dr Stewart Wood and Dr Maurice Glasman. Both men are very clever. And both men are obsessed with the German economy, having spent chunks of their academic lives researching it.

Miliband is a democratic socialist pretending to be a social democrat. Germany is quite social democratic. It has regional banks, encourages worker representation on company boards, boasts a large manufacturing sector (where the ratio of pay at the top to pay at the bottom is small) and a relatively subdued financial sector (where it is big). All of the best and most original thinking of Miliband's leadership seeks to imitate this.

It follows that Milibandism is the gradual Germanification of Britain. Knowing we cannot compete with China, Miliband wants us to copy Germany. Widely misunderstood as repudiating New Labour in favour of Old Labour, he is in fact repudiating both in favour of Neue Labour.

How German do we want to be? The answer will determine the fate not just of Miliband and Labour, but Britain's workers, too.

 

React Now

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

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager

£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This full service social media ...

Recruitment Genius: Data Analyst - Online Marketing

£24000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are 'Changemakers in retail'...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Residential Conveyancer

Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Senior Conveyancer - South West We are see...

Austen Lloyd: Residential / Commercial Property Solicitor

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: DORSET MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Letter from the Deputy Editor: i’s Review of the Year

Andrew Webster
RIP Voicemail?  

Voicemail has got me out of some tight corners, so let's not abandon it

Simon Kelner
A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all