Miliband kicks nurses and unemployed young people

Posted on May 9, 2012 by | 4 Comments

Friday was Ed Miliband’s day. Labour’s rise in the local elections revived his leadership and gave him a chance once more to articulate his message without the media sniping at his heals. Such opportunities are rare for party leaders – the space to say what they want to say, the time to craft a message, and the chance to choose a platform from which to deliver it.

The rarity of such moments means that it is a good time to judge a leader, a good time to see where they are actually leading up to, not just the bunkers they are forced to duck into. Most days, they are responding to some crisis or other, to the daily news cycle. With the coalition government, policy disagreements between Lib Dems and Tories are much more interesting to journos than what a hypothetical Labour government might do, so Labour struggle even more than the average opposition party to get simple front and centre coverage of their policy announcements. But after the local elections, before the next big crisis – this was Miliband’s chance to pounce – his chance to inspire the country with his bold vision. So, what did ‘red Ed’ do with his big day?

He went to Essex to slag off NHS workers and unemployed young people. Specifically, he called on any NHS workers who pull a sicky to be sacked, and called on young people to work harder to find jobs which don’t exist. If I was trying to think of the two least helpful media narratives he could perpetuate, they might well be inefficiency in the NHS, and laziness of young people who can’t find work…

After a local election in which the Tories were punished – in no small part because of dismantling the NHS and because of youth unemployment, this is perhaps extraordinary. Rather than articulating the case for the welfare state, and the case for job creation, for investment, Miliband took his big chance and decided to use it to put the boot into some of the people in Britain hit hardest by this Tory government.

In other news, on the 30th of April, 100,000 sick people lost benefits worth nearly £100 a week. Does Mr Miliband think that they are all faking it too? If not, it seems Ed is more interested in kicking those who are down than he is in helping people up.

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4 Responses to “Miliband kicks nurses and unemployed young people”

  1. DanNo Gravatar
    May 9th, 2012 @ 11:37 am

    Well spotted, completely agree – so frustrating to see voters streaming back to labour after just two years, when it was them that set in motion the privatisation we are seeing in the nhs and they still haven’t put forward a credible plan for the economy. It’s like the country suffers from collective amnesia. The sooner the Green Party can get more coverage in the news and councillors on the ground to demonstrate the alternative, the better…

  2. ManishtaNo Gravatar
    May 9th, 2012 @ 1:04 pm

    I’m no fan of Miliband. But he did attack the Govt on jobs and youth unemployment. Both in Guardian and BBC coverage I think he received decent coverage over the past few days.

  3. Tim HardyNo Gravatar
    May 9th, 2012 @ 2:41 pm

    Adam, I agree these are disgusting things to say. Labour’s pandering to and feeding prejudice against the disabled and people on benefits stinks – but we need to be wary of the source of this story. The Telegraph has interest in promoting a narrative in which the Opposition are seen to be laying the groundwork to justify the vicious politics of men like IDS.

    (As an aside, we need to very wary of buying into the “deserving poor” narrative being promoted by neoliberals. I’ve seen the phrase “hard-working families” being used in Green party press statements and it fills me with horror.)

    People are waking up to the Greens as a viable alternative. While it is good to bash Labour for their many failings, perhaps the challenge now is more to outperform Labour in condemning the Tories and leave Labour to hoist themselves with their own petard. People can make their own minds up about whether it is Labour or the Greens who are the party for social justice.

  4. Adam RamsayNo Gravatar
    May 9th, 2012 @ 3:36 pm

    Tim – yeah I considered not writing this because of the source. But we need to hold Miliband to account for what he says in front of the right wing media, or he’ll try to get away with saying one thing to one group and another to another…

    Also, I agree re ‘hard working families’.

    Something I need to think more about is whether things like ‘struggling families’, or ‘struggling households’ are acceptable..?