Has Ed Miliband really given up on New Labour?

Miliband promises to carry forward “New Labour insights” in speech to CBI.

Perhaps the most notable thing about Ed Miliband's speech to the CBI this morning was his immediate praise for New Labour's approach to business. After just 119 words, he said:

New Labour's insight in the 1990s was to recognise that we needed to be a party that understood wealth creation as well as its distribution, that we needed to be for economic prosperity as well as social justice, and that solving our society's problems could not be done without a partnership between government and business.

With Alan Johnson as shadow chancellor, John Denham as the shadow business secretary and Douglas Alexander as the shadow work and pensions secretary, we intend to carry forward all of these New Labour insights.

The decision to reference New Labour so warmly marks a contrast with Miliband's first days as leader. In his first TV interview with Andrew Marr he was asked: "Does New Labour still apply?" and memorably replied: "The era of New Labour has passed."

It was the sort of comment designed to produce headlines such as "Miliband declares New Labour dead" and so it did. It's no surprise that Miliband is keen to emphasise his New Labour credentials in front of a business audience, but even that is a trick borrowed from the Blair playbook.

It is, of course, possible to break with New Labour while still appreciating some of its most important insights. But few would deny that this represents an unresolved tension in the Miliband project.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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Theresa May knows she's talking nonsense - here's why she's doing it

The Prime Minister's argument increases the sense that this is a time to "lend" - in her words - the Tories your vote.

Good morning.  Angela Merkel and Theresa May are more similar politicians than people think, and that holds true for Brexit too. The German Chancellor gave a speech yesterday, and the message: Brexit means Brexit.

Of course, the emphasis is slightly different. When May says it, it's about reassuring the Brexit elite in SW1 that she isn't going to backslide, and anxious Remainers and soft Brexiteers in the country that it will work out okay in the end.

When Merkel says it, she's setting out what the EU wants and the reality of third country status outside the European Union.  She's also, as with May, tilting to her own party and public opinion in Germany, which thinks that the UK was an awkward partner in the EU and is being even more awkward in the manner of its leaving.

It's a measure of how poor the debate both during the referendum and its aftermath is that Merkel's bland statement of reality - "A third-party state - and that's what Britain will be - can't and won't be able to have the same rights, let alone a better position than a member of the European Union" - feels newsworthy.

In the short term, all this helps Theresa May. Her response - delivered to a carefully-selected audience of Leeds factory workers, the better to avoid awkward questions - that the EU is "ganging up" on Britain is ludicrous if you think about it. A bloc of nations acting in their own interest against their smaller partners - colour me surprised!

But in terms of what May wants out of this election - a massive majority that gives her carte blanche to implement her agenda and puts Labour out of contention for at least a decade - it's a great message. It increases the sense that this is a time to "lend" - in May's words - the Tories your vote. You may be unhappy about the referendum result, you may usually vote Labour - but on this occasion, what's needed is a one-off Tory vote to make Brexit a success.

May's message is silly if you pay any attention to how the EU works or indeed to the internal politics of the EU27. That doesn't mean it won't be effective.

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to British politics.

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