Miliband: Politics, philosophy and a slug of new policy


Watch Nick Robinson's report as Labour "walks a tightrope" with the public

A bit of politics, a lot of philosophy and a slug of new policy. That's what we got from the Labour leader Ed Miliband today.

His backing for the idea of a cap on social security spending - or at least that bit of it which doesn't go up simply because of rising unemployment - is designed to reassure those voters who tell the pollsters they don't trust Labour to control spending or welfare.

It is impossible to judge the impact of a cap first suggested by George Osborne until he or Ed Miliband spells out what it includes and excludes and what level it will be set at.

What was clear today, however, is the Labour leader's philosophy.

He believes that cutting benefits is not the way to cut the benefit bill. He argues instead for cutting what he calls "the cost of failure" by creating jobs for the young long-term unemployed, building houses and driving down rents and incentivising businesses to pay their staff more.

The newest and most eye-catching policy was the suggestion that those who'd worked for longer but then lost their jobs might get a higher level of benefits.

What all this might mean will, though, be shaped by the most important thing Labour have announced this week: their acceptance that they will have to live with all the coalition's spending cuts unless they can find money from elsewhere - and not from borrowing - to pay for them to be reversed.

Nick Robinson, Political editor Article written by Nick Robinson Nick Robinson Political editor

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  • rate this

    Comment number 147.

    Grounder @146
    "A bit of politics, a lot of philosophy and a slug of new policy"

    Hell of a slug, at past midnight, thread soon to end!

    But thanks - I'll try the text and between the lines

  • rate this

    Comment number 146.

    @144 I certainly pack a lot of Truth into very few words, though they be pearls before swine (no offence to anyone intended). Perhaps that's enough "philosophy" to remain on topic, Horatio. Time for "a slug of...policy":

  • rate this

    Comment number 145.

    Grounder @143
    Don't go!
    Not on my account!

    Concern though 'for the rabid' - perhaps more for those yet less bitten - might be better expressed elsewhere; but wherever "undesperate" retirement takes you - close to power maybe - you will I am sure carry with you the very desperate plight of the young, lost and hopeless, the old, their labours disregarded, the fighters and the refugees, in hell

  • rate this

    Comment number 144.

    Grounder @140
    'you shall know the truth (that) shall make you free'
    and all that

    'All that': from mock-stoic disregard, thru infinity of 'revelations', to 'truths' of narcissism, evil without limit

    Choice 'yours', but 'you' always a characterised product of life-choices presented / perceived, finding 'meaning' in others, rash to think either loved ones or the sun in orbit solely around... One!

  • rate this

    Comment number 143.

    @142 Not sure about "less than happily", but I do find undue pessimism rather wearing, and there seems to be a lot of it about. Still, I must shine my cheery facts where'er there lies dismal ignorance: undesperate times call for hopeful measures, or none at all.

  • rate this

    Comment number 142.

    T Szasz: "Define or be defined"
    "Can I be the 'conscientious hermit, please?"
    Some education in childhood, but sure, 'made for you' - BY, of course, society in which you less than happily find yourself 'a little lost', needing time to find / persuade project

    Special care when 'freedoms' of psychopathy & intoxication placed above respect for equal freedom. Free-loaders need not apply!

  • rate this

    Comment number 141.

    'Course they COULD take the whole finance industry into public ownership & control - including all its assets. The money the rich have is what should have been paid in tax had the tax rates been appropiately high. So sequester it all. Result: massive investment funds released for housing, industry, etc, the National Debt halved (the half held here) - & the ex-rich available for proper jobs.

  • rate this

    Comment number 140.

    @139 Sounds like a totalitarian dystopia. Can I be the "conscientious hermit", please.

  • rate this

    Comment number 139.

    Grounder @135
    "full employ rather than benefit squabble" @125
    "guaranteed job with obligation to accept" @127

    Address of 'utopia / dystopia': in prior understanding & agreement on equal income-share (enduring democracy), natural competition to be our best, duty to offer labour OR devise self-employ (equal income set against business profit), rules on laziness / criminality / conscientious hermit

  • rate this

    Comment number 138.

    @134 I wouldn't disagree with that guess, or perhaps they have received "clarification".

    @136 That's absolutely fine by me. The world is falling over itself trying to lend me (the UK) money. I think the flaw in your position is that a national economy has no concept of "net profit". There are no dividends from UK plc, only interest payments (payable from future taxation cashflow).

  • rate this

    Comment number 137.

    @132 The direct effect of cutting public expenditure is an immediate reduction in both GDP and tax take. Given the choice, the best time to cut public expenditure is when the economy is growing, when the private sector can compensate for the reduced tax take and benefit from the capacity the cuts create. If the private sector doesn't have the strength to respond to the cuts, the deficit increases.

  • rate this

    Comment number 136.

    124 Grounder - as a businessman I would prefer not to invest with you if thats ok. I am also comfortable with limited leverage to improve shareholder returns - but a good adage is sales (or if you like GDP) are vanity, profit is sanity. UK plc has no prospect of net profit on its activities for the foreseeable future. Its dumb business to borrow just to maintain that position.

  • rate this

    Comment number 135.

    @131 I try to be even-handed even when feeding the rabid dogs... thanks for rumbling me.

    "And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" and all that.

  • rate this

    Comment number 134.

    4 Minutes ago
    @129 We have to wait for an interpretation of the word "structural" in "structural welfare spending".
    From the earlier report on the BBC it stated structural was anything not affected by unemployment and specifically mentioned that it did include housing and disability.

  • rate this

    Comment number 133.

    @129 We have to wait for an interpretation of the word "structural" in "structural welfare spending". By analogy with the "structural deficit", the expression should exclude increases due to economic conditions, so a doubling in unemployment would not lead to a halving of JSA. But growing numbers of underpaid might lead to reductions of tax credits for the better paid, I suppose.

  • rate this

    Comment number 132.

    There's the nub (or one of them) does spend & tax take inhibit GDP? To back their doctrine (&action) of 'low tax Govt', Tories need to reinforce notion! ;-)

    My argument would be inflation & cost of living is biggest hindrance to growth & Benefits. Tackle inflation (as well as cuts or on its own) & maybe situation would ease to point where cuts unnecessary or can be reduced.

  • rate this

    Comment number 131.

    Grounder @127
    Sincerely honoured
    I like the sense of your arguments
    The respect for facts, and their marshalling in fairness

    Hope you will forgive my 'reminding' here of such as the Rich Young Man, the Feeding of the Five Thousand, the Vineyard Owner; and also perhaps my directness in 400ch effort to address 'simple' questions, to encourage self-address of straw-man equal partnership dystopias.

  • rate this

    Comment number 130.

    @126 An important question, I agree. I don't say I'm not concerned; I just say that I do not see the evidence that public spending must be reduced as a priority. In cash terms, HMRC receipts have increased by over £60bn a year since 2010; as a percentage of GDP, employment taxes and VAT are (at 21%) about the same as in 2008 and likely to improve along with GDP. So I'd rather keep GDP growing.

  • rate this

    Comment number 129.

    The concept that you can cap the total spent regardless of the number of people trying to take a share is ludicrous, especially when that includes disability et al. Its a typical headline grabber that's not practical. I'm all for capping what a person can get but capping the budget is a recipe for deprivation. Is this really labour?

  • rate this

    Comment number 128.

    Ed doesn't talk human here's the translation;

    We're scared our poll lead will evaporate and mandy and tony said some nasty things about lack of policies last week.

    Our focus groups say no-one trust us.

    How bout we say some stuff on welfare that might be mistaken for responsibility. Then riff on bout the costs of failure without upsetting anyone.

    BBC will give us a soft ride.

    Good innit ?


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