UK Politics

Labour and the banks - whose reckoning?

"Reckoning"

Definition: "the avenging or punishing of past mistakes or misdeeds".

Usage: As in "we need a reckoning with our banks", E Miliband speech on banks 17.01.14

When Ed Miliband and his team were looking for one word to sum up his approach to the banks they chose one they must have heard again and again at the movies.

It smacks of a tough, dare I say macho, determination to avenge and punish past mistakes or misdeeds. The question it raises, though, is whose mistakes or misdeeds the electorate will choose to punish.

The Labour leader knows that the Tories' answer to that is "yours".

The Reckoning film poster

The Conservatives have already told everybody that the theme of their election will be "don't hand the keys back to the guys who drove the car into a ditch".

Whether it's the crisis in the banks, high energy prices or the deficits, they will say "it all went wrong under Labour" and "we're beginning to put things right but the job is only half done".

Today's speech revealed that Labour believes they can overcome that problem by establishing their leader's credentials as the man willing, ready and tough enough to stage a reckoning with the powerful vested interests which, he argues, created a long term cost of living crisis long before the crash of 2008 and which will last long after the current modest recovery is established.

Deficit reduction is not, he argued, enough. It is not a vision for the country. Many Conservatives would quietly agree with that.

However, the Tories reply that taking on the banks or the energy companies does not add up to an economic plan.

Many Labour supporters whisper that there is truth in that.

This year sees the release of yet another movie with that word in its title. The poster for "The Reckoning" carries the slogan "you reap what you sow".

The result of the next election may come down to who it is voters want to stage their reckoning with.

UPDATE 18:20 GMT

I learn that Ed Miliband's speech today was inspired by reading the new biography of the famous "trust buster" Theodore Roosevelt - 'Bully Pulpit' by Doris Kearns Goodwin.

One of Roosevelt's first acts as American president was to deliver a 20,000-word address calling on Congress to curb the power of large American corporations - known as "trusts"

Meantime the BBC's crack graphics team have come up with their version of a movie poster for "The Reckoning".

Ed Miliband film poster