New Times,
New Thinking.

  1. Politics
26 September 2010

An impressive start from Ed Miliband

Labour’s new leader keeps his cool in his first TV interview.

By George Eaton

Ed Miliband has just had his first TV interview as leader on The Andrew Marr Show and, despite some fairly fierce questioning over the unions, he kept his cool. “I’m nobody’s man, I’m my own man,” he said, slapping down Bob Crow for good measure.

Labour’s new leader pointed out, as I suggested he do yesterday, that it was not the union barons who elected him but thousands of “ordinary working people”. And, highlighting a strength of Labour’s electoral college, he noted: “More people voted for me than voted for David Cameron in his election.”

If there was a weakness, it was that Marr’s direct questioning left Miliband with little time to go on the offensive over the coalition’s cuts. But he began to find his feet towards the end, pointing out, in a neat phrase, that the coalition has promised to almost “double the cuts”.

But a jarring moment came when Milband, having conceded that he would not “oppose every cut”, was asked to propose some of his own. Answer came there none. Even Diane Abbott had Trident. His claim that he’d “wait and see” what the coalition proposed was distinctly unsatisfying.

Select and enter your email address Your weekly guide to the best writing on ideas, politics, books and culture every Saturday. The best way to sign up for The Saturday Read is via The New Statesman's quick and essential guide to the news and politics of the day. The best way to sign up for Morning Call is via
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how Progressive Media Investments may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.

On the deficit, he described the Brown/Darling plan as a “starting point”, leaving himself plenty of wriggle room ahead of the spending review on 20 October. For now, it’s clear that he believes in a more even split between spending cuts and tax rises than that promised by George Osborne or Alistair Darling (the former currently envisages a 77:23 ratio, the latter favoured 67:33). After all, during the last big fiscal tightening undertaken by a Conservative government, Kenneth Clarke split the pain 50:50.

But Miliband’s defence of a universal welfare state could yet prove a far more important dividing line with the coalition. While he believes that everyone, including the middle classes, should contribute and benefit, Cameron and Clegg increasingly favour a residual welfare state, primarily intended as a safety net for the poor.

Miliband’s position is part politics — the need to maintain public support for state provision — and part principle — the state has an obligation to support families, the elderly and the young, regardless of their income.

Prepare for this to be one of the defining debates of the coming months.

Content from our partners
The power of place in tackling climate change
Tackling the UK's biggest health challenges
"Heat or eat": how to help millions in fuel poverty – with British Gas Energy Trust