Predistribution: The Labour leader's latest Big Idea


Sew it to your banners, brothers and sisters. Prepare to march. Join in the cry: "What do we want? Predistribution! When do we want it? Now!"

The Labour leader's latest Big Idea may not be catchy but it is interesting. Ed Miliband, told a seminar at London's Stock Exchange today: "Predistribution is about saying we cannot allow ourselves to be stuck with permanently being a low-wage economy.

"It is neither just, nor does it enable us to pay our way in the world. Our aim must be to transform our economy so it is a much higher skill, higher wage economy."

So far, so familiar - that has been the aspiration of many politicians for a very long time. The importance of the word predistribution is what it is not and what it is meant to signal.

It is not redistribution - put crudely, taxing the rich and transferring resources to the poor.

What it is meant to signal is that the Labour leadership recognises that the deficit will severely limit their capacity to redistribute - to restore the cuts to tax credits and increase non means tested payments to the elderly like the Winter Fuel Allowance.

We know what Labour's two Eds are examining in order to pre-distribute - things like the introduction of a so-called Living Wage so that employers and not the state provide enough money for people to live on, and better training to improve people's employability.

On a day when the OECD has confirmed the grim outlook for the British economy, attention is bound to be focused on the measures the government is deploying to kick-start the British economy and the alternatives Labour proposes.

However, with the 2015 election now looking very open and Labour insiders already talking of being at the start of the "long campaign", watching whether predistribution turns into anything more than an incomprehensible rallying cry will be fascinating.

PS To be fair to Ed the word was not his - it came from the US - and as he was keen to point out when Labour was last in opposition the other Ed spoke in the very venue about "neo-classical endogenous growth theory". Makes predistribution look positively snappy.

Nick Robinson Article written by Nick Robinson Nick Robinson Political editor

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  • rate this

    Comment number 152.

    bryhers @148

    Despite down-ratings contributions as ever much appreciated

    Moral sense, and numerate perspective, 'should' prevail

    That your analysis clearly 'could serve' will be of comfort to many

    My 'reminders', for 'actual democracy', not of derogatory intent

    'Quality' of auto-destructive 'opposition' begs 'shareable-by-all'

    All IQs, 80 to 180, might share trust, equally 'in it together'?

  • rate this

    Comment number 151.

    I don't know who has down rated my post 30.

    But I am a Labour Party member, and voter.

    My point is that Pre-Distribution, as a buzz-word and not so much an idea, does not, and will not, fly.

    Make of that what you will.

  • rate this

    Comment number 150.

    Agreed. But + cheap imports also AND WE HAD INFLATION & very high infl (relative) for prevailing econo conds, despite that increased productivity. Which knocks your prev statement on the head, does it not?

    Would also point out that annual wage incr figs also tended to be totals for all grades. Higher grades tended to get larger incs; lot of lower grade pay was static or even declined.

  • rate this

    Comment number 149.

    More manufacturing jobs were lost between 1997 and 2010 than during the 1980's. Perhaps if the Labour government had invested in manufacturing and educational excellence rather than special advisers to cover up the dumbing down of education so that the attainment levels in the UK had not fallen compared to our competitors. Predistribution - labour doublespeak for 13 years of failure.

  • rate this

    Comment number 148.


    Public services are the active part of citizenship and are inclusive,embracing rich and poor so all contibute and all receive.Example:-in Britain we donate blood,in the USA the poor sell it.Their status is defined not by their citizenship but by the market.

    The blood gift is an example of the reciprocity that contributes to social cohesion.The market left to itself generates conflict


Comments 5 of 152



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