I find Cathy's article unconvincing about Ed Miliband. The positive statements she makes about him are so highly qualified as to make one doubt that they are a real reason for supporting him (e.g. acknowledgement of little essential difference with his brother) or else are highly speculative e.g. about whether his election will lead to democratisation of the Labour Party or an opening for the unions.
I can accept that Ed Miliband has employed rhetoric about breaking with New Labour and talks about re-connecting with lost working class voters. Looking at his website and leaflets, however, I can only agree when Cathy says “His left stance didn’t stand up to close analysis”.
Apart from the living wage and keeping the top rate of tax, there was at some point talk about “greater protection for workers” but I cannot anywhere find a clear statement of what this means. His talk about greater union involvement in the LP seems to centre on organising meetings for political levy payers to encourage them to get involved in the party.
So it all comes down to two things: speculating about Ed Miliband’s election bringing about an opening for the unions and rank and file in the Labour Party (or the negative effects of David Miliband’s election); and secondly, the need to be able to talk to people who might be supporting him for good if somewhat misguided reasons. I am sceptical that there has been a big secret deal between the unions and Ed Miliband that will be revealed if he wins or that union support somehow reflects a widespread feeling among the rank and file.
I am also sceptical that his election will lead to a sense of opening for the left. I do not see a burgeoning support for Ed Miliband that will lead on to a major shift in the Labour Party if he wins.
Might the cuts change things? Yes. But one thing that has been glaring about the leadership campaign is that nobody except ultra-Keynesian Ed Balls has taken on the Tories’ ideological offensive over the deficit, and nobody at all has proposed making campaigning against the budget cuts central.
Bruce Robinson, Manchester