Breaking: Now Ed Miliband hits back hard against his brother

A “new generation” is needed to move beyond the “New Labour comfort zone”, says leadership contender

Ed Miliband will tomorrow issue his clearest political attack yet on his brother, David, calling on Labour to provide a "mandate for change" so that a "new generation" can lead the party out of its "New Labour comfort zone".

In a speech being distributed to as many party members as possible tomorrow, the younger Miliband brother will unashamedly draw stark dividing lines with the bookies' favourite, David, who is being portrayed by Ed's campaign as the party's "establishment" candidate.

The Ed Miliband camp said that tomorrow's speech "will say that the leadership election has come down to a big defining decision: whether to linger in the New Labour comfort zone and try one more heave for power, or to change to a new generation of leadership, beyond New Labour". It will seek to portray the fight between Ed and David Miliband as being between "change and continuity", respectively.

The "one more heave" reference is ironical, as it was frequently used by party modernisers who accused traditionalists of refusing to compromise with the electorate. In recent days, David Miliband has said that the party must escape from its "comfort zone" and appeal beyond its "core vote".

But on Tuesday Ed Miliband's team hit back, saying it was the "New Labour comfort zone" that must be shed. Tensions between the brothers' camps have heightened in recent days.

Ed Balls will also deliver a key campaign speech tomorrow in which he will say that the choice between a "head" candidate and a "heart" candidate is "false", and claim to be the "head-and-heart" candidate.

In his speech, Ed Miliband will say: "We must have the courage to change, the confidence to know that our values, when applied to the challenges of Britain in the modern world, can reconnect with those who have turned their backs on New Labour."

He will add: "We lost the last election but nobody won. The reason: neither New Labour nor Cameron's Tories had good enough answers to the challenges facing people in this country.

"I say to the Labour Party: 'I am not just seeking your votes. I am seeking a mandate to change -- to refound our party in ways which will reach out to those who have lost trust in us.'

"We must reach out to those who believe we have become cynical about our politics with our belief that it's politics which can bring people together to change Britain. We must reach out to the squeezed middle, those who find themselves working harder for longer for less, with a commitment to a new economy on the side of working people, rewarding businesses [which] invest in their staff and are committed to fair pay. And we must reach out to those who believe we became too casual about the liberties of individuals.

"Whenever a political party has become stuck in its ways there are always those who will fight to stay with what they know. The past can be a powerful anchor. Labour now faces a big, defining choice: whether to linger in the comfort zone of New Labour or whether to change, reach out to those who have lost trust in our party. Only change can win."

James Macintyre is political correspondent for the New Statesman.
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Unconvinced by Ken Loach’s benefits story? That says more about Britain than the film does

The director has clashed with a film critic about his representation of the welfare state in I, Daniel Blake.

I, Daniel Blake, Ken Loach’s new film, has kicked off a row between the director and The Sunday Times’ film critic, Camilla Long.

Published on Sunday, the review – which called the film a “povvo safari for middle-class do-gooders” – has led to Loach and some audience members rowing with Long online.

Long also describes the film – which is an unforgiving drama about the cruelty of welfare bureaucracy – as “misery porn for smug Londoners”.

Her contention is that it is “condescending” and “patronising” to benefits claimants, partly because it will mainly be seen by affluent audiences, rather than “the lowest part of society” – so acts as a vehicle for middle-class guilt rather than an authentic reflection of people’s lives.

I’ve seen the film, and there are parts that jar. A reference to the Bedroom Tax feels shoe-horned in, as if screenwriter Paul Laverty remembered last-minute to tick that box on his welfare scandal checklist. And an onlooker outside the Jobcentre’s rant about the Bullingdon Club, Etonians and Iain Duncan Smith also feels forced. (But to me, these parts only stood out because the rest of the script is convincing – often punishingly so.)

A critic is free to tear into a film they didn’t enjoy. But the problem with Long’s review is the problem with the way Britain in general looks at the benefits system: disbelief.

For example, Long calls it “a maddening computer error” and “a mysterious glitch” that Daniel Blake – a 59-year-old carpenter who has been signed off from work by his doctor after a heart attack – is denied his disability benefit.

Actually it’s because he’s been found “fit to work” after an agonising tick-box phone assessment by an anonymous adviser, who is neither a nurse nor a doctor. This is a notorious problem with work capability assessments under a welfare system constantly undergoing cuts and shake-ups by successive governments.

Both the Personal Independence Payment (which replaced the Disability Living Allowance in 2013 under the coalition) and Employment and Support Allowance (which replaced the Incapacity Benefit in 2007 under New Labour) have seen backlogs and delays in providing financial support to claimants, and work capability tests have repeatedly been under fire for being intrusive, inappropriate, or just wrong. Funding for those in the “work-related activity group” who claim ESA – in which you work if you are deemed able to during continual interviews with an adviser – also suffered a 30 per cent cut in last year’s budget.

Also, when people claiming ESA believe they have wrongly been found “fit for work” and appeal – as Blake does in the film – more than half of decisions are overturned when they reach a tribunal.

It’s a system that puts cost-cutting above people’s welfare; Jobcentre staff are even monitored individually in terms of how many sanctions they impose (Blake’s friend Katie is sanctioned in the film), making them feel as if they are working to targets.

The situation for disabled, sick or broke people claiming welfare is unbelievable in this country, which is perhaps why it’s so difficult for us – or for some watching Loach’s portrayal of the cruel system – to believe it at all. At best, it’s because we would prefer to close our eyes to a system that we hope we never have to grapple with. At worst, it’s because we don’t believe people when they say they cannot work, and demonise them as “shirkers” or “scroungers”.

By all means question Loach’s cinematic devices, but don’t question the point of telling the story at all – and the story itself. After all, it’s the very inability of people who rely on the state to have their voices heard that means they are always hit the hardest.

Anoosh Chakelian is deputy web editor at the New Statesman.