Thursday, 19 August 2010

The Continuity Myth

Something's been bugging Keir recently in this arduous Labour leadership race. It is partly due to the fact that the contest hasn't been front page news what with a World Cup and a country having it's head resting uncomfortably on the spending guillotine. The fact is, this Labour leadership campaign hasn't hit the news as heavily as we may have hoped. And this has lead some of the coverage to be lazy and presumptuous. The result of this has been that David Miliband, Keir's chosen candidate, has been portrayed as a "Blairite", continuity candidate. In much of the coverage, Ed Miliband is being presented as the new man for change and renewal. And some are believing it.

Frankly, that's nonsense.

Ed Miliband is a good guy. Sure he let us down a bit at Copenhagen after so much build-up and blamed it on others, but he tried his best. However, let's be clear, he does not represent renewal and change as much as his brother. For all Ed's talk about strengthening the grassroots of the party and engaging new members and people as a whole, he hasn't actually done anything to show his commitment to that. David has.

The Movement for Change, as Keir has previously pointed out, is not just words. Whilst Ed talks, David acts. People throughout the country are being trained to effectively organise within their communities and strengthen the movement as a whole. This is unprecedented for someone who is still merely a leadership candidate to be investing in. If David Miliband was already Labour leader and he'd invested money in something like the Movement for Change, we'd say "great". That he is doing it whilst only a candidate shows this man's love for the party and his dedication to strengthening the movement.

And then onto policies. One thing that really grates on Keir is Ed Miliband's relationship with the living wage. Can we all be clear about something: the living wage is NOT Ed Miliband's idea and not his campaign. London Citizens began this campaign. Boris Johnson and HSBC, among others, adopted the living wage before Ed started piping up about it. And all of the Labour leaders support the spread of the living wage, not just Ed. Yes, that means David too. The only difference is that David isn't trying to pass it off as his own.

But there's more to show that David is anything but "continuity".

Just a few weeks ago, he and Tessa Jowell led the call to make the BBC a co-operative, making it more democratic and more accountable to the public. That is: "make it accountable to the public". Not "make the public run it", for those of you who were thinking "isn't that the Big Society?"

So that's one progressive policy. Want more? Gay marriage. At the end of July, David came out (excuse the pun) in support of full gay marriage. Continuity? Keir thinks not.

And what about the mansion tax? David has supported a 1% tax on homes worth £2m. Left Foot Forward agreed that this is a progressive tax. And, they add, it has the support of voters.

It doesn't stop there: a High Pay Commission and employee representation on the pay committees at top firms. This would, as David himself said, put a check on corporate excesses. Will Straw seemed to like that one.

David also wants to see the party move forward in democratic and progressive terms. Introducing a leadership academy for BAME community members is another of David's policies. Our party needs to continue it's move towards a much more representative membership; in particular the parliamentary party. Investing in this sort of idea will go a long way to aid that. In addition, David's commitment to an elected party chair is one of the main reason's that Keir was convinced to support him. This is an absolute "must-do" policy.

Don't believe the myth. David Miliband is not continuity, not "Blairite". He and his policies are progressive, electable and bold. That's what we need.


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