Coffee House

I hate to admit it, but Ed Miliband has a point about welfare and language

7 April 2013

4:11 PM

7 April 2013

4:11 PM

In his Mail on Sunday column today, James Forsyth gives a fascinating insight into what both main parties are thinking as we move from welfare wars into local election campaign mode. His piece is, as usual, full of gems – but one in particular caught my eye.

Several of those closest to [Ed Miliband] tried to persuade him to use the term ‘benefit cheat’ in a speech soon after he became leader. They believed that Miliband, the son of an academic, needed to speak in the way that voters do. But Miliband refused. He’s determined not to take the tactical approach to the issue beloved by the triangulators of New Labour. Instead, he wants to position himself as a ‘one nation’ politician capable of uniting the whole country.

I think a Miliband victory would be a disaster for Britain, but he is very difficult to dislike (a strong attribute in politics). One of his more attractive traits is a sense of decency. The same was true of the late Michael Foot, of course, it didn’t make him electable. But Miliband looks like he will be more successful. He has refused to go after the Tories for closing prisons*, because he agrees with the policy. Politically daft, if you ask me, as the Tories are very vulnerable on this. But I grudgingly admire him for sticking to his (misguided) principles.

On welfare, Miliband seems to have decided to take another political hit. George Osborne has long goaded him about his position on welfare, and last year he even crossed the floor to thank the Labour leader for voting against reform. Something you can never imagine Iain Duncan Smith doing – he wants bipartisan support for this agenda. The American experience shows that welfare reform works best with all-party support. But I wonder if, longer term, Miliband’s more restrained language will bring dividends.

[Alt-Text]


If the Tories learnt anything from their failure to win the last four elections, it should be that their biggest problem is people mistrusting their motives. Being uncharitable about the poor and unemployed, or portraying welfare reform as a way of getting one over on the Labour Party, risks inflicting longlasting damage to the Tory reputation. Recontaminating the brand. Onlookers will be amazed at how quickly the Tories seem to forget these basic lessons.

In the last week, we have been reminded that the Conservatives have not lost the capacity to self-mutilate. In the 1990s, the problem was a Spock-like obsession with economics. Now, it’s an obsession with political tactics. Iain Duncan Smith has spent years building a social justice agenda for the Conservatives which is not just plausible, but widely accepted. Not once has he ever blamed the unemployed for their plight, or spoken about ‘scroungers’. His welfare reform agenda is an extraordiary achievement, the greatest triumph of Tory modernisation. It’s a success worth protecting.

Labour’s great advantage is that people tend to regard the party as well-meaning, even if naïve and ineffectual. Being seen as well-intentioned and led by a leader who is (as Michael Gove puts it) “in politics for the right reasons” is a pretty strong asset. Especially if voters think the next election is an ugly baby contest where they have to choose the least bad option.

Ed Miliband has no choice but to embrace welfare reform. But if he manages to keep the reputation of being decent and well-meaning in the process, it will be a strong asset for his party in 2015.

* Prisons are closing, but I’m told there will be more adult places in 2015 than 2010. More on this later.

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Show comments
  • treborc1

    A man he had met who “hadn’t been able to work since he was injured doing his
    job. It was a real injury, and he was obviously a good man who cared for his children.
    But I was convinced that there were other jobs he could do.”

  • treborc1

    True its better to tell silly stories about knocking on doors and seeing somebody ( disabled) who can do something, without asking him what was wrong with him, then confirming it by asking the neighbour about him, always better to get it second hand then ask him.

    Round about way of saying he a cheat…

  • AnotherGeordie

    And you wonder why the Conservative brand is toxic?
    I don’t agree with Frasers comments on the perception that ed is a good guy, but I am appalled at the tone of discussion articles on CH instigate. If you disagree say why ad what you would like to see instead, don’t sink to the level of gutter press and get into personal attacks or my dads bigger than yours arguments because that offers nothing.

    What is wrong, let me share my thoughts. Conservative central office live in a bubble, you make contact with them offering support and they don’t respond, you chase and they fob you off. There is no organisation outside the Westminster bubble and if you are from the north you can sense the disgust in responses; what do we do? Go elsewhere? Attack the individual personality traits of those at central office? Or make your case with actions?

    One day,when work commitments allow, I may chose to become more involved. Until then I have to work hard to look after my family, I will look to set an example to those around me that the answer is to get your head down and work hard to provide for your own, and if you have the opportunity, the wider community. If you cannot find the job you are educated for start at the bottom and work your way up.

    What I hope I won’t do is become so bitter that I report to s hook ground come backs to anyone who has a different opinion to my own. If you think Fraser (or others) are wrong, justify your beliefs with a reason for them, and no branding something as leftie is not a reasoned argument.

    Lets have a discussion and set an example, not a slanging match.

  • giselle97

    “Iain Duncan Smith has spent years building a social justice agenda for the Conservatives which is not just plausible, but widely accepted. Not once has he ever blamed the unemployed for their plight, or spoken about ‘scroungers’. His welfare reform agenda is an extraordiary achievement, the greatest triumph of Tory modernisation. It’s a success worth protecting”. I have two words in response to that: (1) Untrue (2) delusional.

  • Jamie

    Following Osbourne’s logic, I blame Thatcher for Philpott. She put 2 million on disability to bring the unemployment figures down to a mere 5 million, and created an underclass for whom benefits became a lifestyle.

  • allymax bruce

    Churchill left a legacy; that he wanted the grass to grow over the industrial heartland of Scotland, and to force Scotland to become a wasteland of poverty. Thatcher did exactly that; she brought Churchill’s legacy to bear.
    Now Thatcher’s legacy in Scotland will be;
    The Poll-Tax on Scotland alone; forcing Scots into poverty.
    Shutting down Scotland’s steelmaking; forcing Scots into poverty.
    Shutting down Scotland’s coal-mines, forcing Scots into poverty.
    And shutting down Scotland’s indusrtrial manufacturing; forcing Scots into poverty,all the while stealing all our oil, behind her evil lies, and the secret McCrone report.
    Yes, I’m sure Thatcher will be remembered in Scotland; not drowning, but waving goodbye to Aceldama.

    A wee dram widnae go amiss noo !

    • Colonel Mustard

      What a load of absolute tripe. What are you people going to do when you can’t blame your ingrained misery and grasping spitefulness on the English any more?

  • DWWolds

    Fraser may believe Milliminor is “decent and well meaning” but even Labour Uncut is now suggesting he has “an immaturity and amateurish streak” and that his action in endorsing Leverson showed “breathtaking naivity”.

  • allymax bruce

    Ed Miliband is now the political ‘Nowhere man’; he has no political policies, and no political ground he can call his own. David Cameron has done an excellent job of moving his Conservative Party to the centre by taking the initiative on traditional Labour ground like s-sm. It doesn’t matter whether it passes or not, the fact that Cameron has stolen Labour’s traditional ground means Ed has nowhere to go, with nothing to say! Moreover, Labour sold their soul to the International Zionists, which means they do exactly what the EU Zionists tell them to do; on the EU, Cameron has cleverly moved his policies into-line with UKIP, and that means Cameron has cornered both a significant portion of ‘modern-right’, keeping his traditional Tory centre-right, and moving into traditional Labour ‘modern-left’ ground. Cameron has widened the voter-appreciation to Conservative policy by doing this, and Cameron will win the 2015 General Election because of this. Why do you think Ed’s bruv’ packed-up, and moved out !
    It’s not Ed’s fault though; blame Bliar, Brown, & Darling for crashing the economy, forcing us to be Marxist slaves of the International Zionist secret-society, and forcing us into the horrendous EU Lisbon treaty! Poor Ed, I feel sorry for him; Labour are screwed.

  • andagain

    If the Tories learnt anything from their failure to win the last four elections, it should be that their biggest problem is people mistrusting their motives.

    I have noticed that the Conservative press and commentors seem to be a lot more enthusiastic about reforms that make it easier to fire people, than about reforms that make it easier to build a house. And that the same people who demand cuts to benefits for the poor demand benefits for the middle class – especially wealthy retired people.

    So I think that people are perfectly reasonable to mistrust the motives of the Conservative Party.

  • donna.walkerathome

    The ONLY reason Miliband stands a reasonable chance of stepping through No.10 in 2015 is because Cameron and the Lib-CONs are so bloody useless.

  • Jules

    George Osborne crossed the floor to thank Miliband for voting against welfare reform, did he? What an odious poisonous cretin he is. Well in the words of Sarah Palin, ‘how is that welfare reform thingy, turning out for you Gideon?’ Behind in the polls and in the most recent YouGov poll, 3 out of 5 people believe that the majority of those receiving benefits ARE genuinely in need.

    In 2015, Miliband can go up to little Gideon and thank him profusely for falling onto Brown’s trap and cutting the 50p tax. That policy has won Labour the election in 2015.

    • Colonel Mustard

      Just about winning, eh? Never mind the country.

  • Daniel Maris

    Wrong again, just as wrong as you were on Osborne’s coming economic miracle.

    Miliband needs to get his A in gear. He should be arguing for radical welfare reform that preserves and indeed enhances the original idea of national insurance and universal benefits.

    Mute neutralism is not an effective policy. I don’t think the Tories are winning many votes off them on welfare but the stance of inactivity must play into UKIP’s hands and lets not forget take about a third of their vote from Labour.

  • fitalass

    This Times cartoon just captured in one snapshot the changing political narrative as much as it does Labour’s position on Welfare. Someone should get it framed and send copies to both Osborne and IDS. http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/opinion/article2481811.ece#tab-4

  • fitalass

    Fraser, interesting few week in politics, and an odd response to what appears to be a genuine turn in the direction of travel of the political narrative in that period. I must have
    missed Miliband’s decision to take a hit on welfare, I just thought it
    was because he was on holiday this week and Labour had already toasted
    the fact that they thought they had won the war on welfare last week as
    IDS reforms were being implemented. And Labour assumed this victory on the back of Miliband working so hard to
    jump on every single protest bandwagon opposing every single cut and
    reform being implemented by the Government.

    You and others had
    written off the Conservatives under Cameron and Osborne midterm while
    Labour still had no policies. To try and spin the idea that Ed Miliband
    was in any principled because he wouldn’t use the term ‘benefit cheat’
    in a speech he gave just after winning the Labour Leadership is
    laughable. Miliband’s first job was always going to be to try to embed
    and shore up his Leadership was . He wasn’t going to upset the Unions
    bosses who helped get him elected either, hardly principled or brave, it
    was all about self preservation. And its that same self preservation
    which is at the heart of Miliband’s problem today. He cannot lay out a
    credible strategy or tough policy decisions to the electorate if he is
    to keep his party and the Unions united behind him up until the next GE.

    Having
    read this article I was struck by the fact that this is just the kind
    of political spin on recent events that I should have been reading from
    very loyal left leaning commentators in an attempt to try and shore u p
    the position of Ed Miliband and the Labour party. Only I am not, if you
    read one article today online, I recommend Dan Hodges in the Telegraph –
    Labour
    is panicking over welfare: it’s flying by the seat of Ed Miliband’s
    pants, except Ed isn’t wearing any

    “Labour’s welfare debacle has revealed the true Ed Miliband. Timid,
    indecisive, fearful of conflict with the Left. This is not a Thick Of It
    sketch. Decisions on a major policy like welfare are being shaped by

    one Radio 4 interview, a poll on the Downing Street website and a
    conviction for manslaughter. When Hugh Grant was negotiating with
    Miliband he must have thought he was taking sweets from a child.”

    Before
    the last GE, Ed Miliband was left in charge of the Labour manifesto,
    and just remember how exasperated Harman became at his lack of progress.
    Miliband is now making the same mistakes all over again as Labour
    Leader. Just weeks ago some thought that all Ed Miliband had to do was
    turn up on polling day at the next GE and he would win, even when he was
    inviting the unelected protest group Hacked Off to sit around the table
    discussing Parliamentary business! The settled view of the right
    leaning commentators being that Cameron and Osborne would do the rest
    for him, but while Cameron continues to be more liked than his party
    that would be mistake. And as big a mistake as continuing to
    underestimate Osborne in particular, something his critics on the right
    have been guilty of for years now. You don’t have to like the guy, but
    when loathing of him gets in the way of missing the fact that he was
    given the toughest gig in politics in 2010 and he is still there on
    ability not friendship you understand why as Cameron’s campaign manager
    he orchestrated such a decisive victory for his man in that Leadership
    contest. If Osborne makes a mistake, he doesn’t then tend to repeat it
    as Miliband and the Labour party continue to do so this week.

  • Widmerpool

    Well I guess anybody looks a decent chap after the odious George Osborne!
    It’s all a matter of relativities Fraser !

  • Fat Bloke on Tour

    Trevor

    You really have them – CCHQ that is – rattled if their professional bloggers / rapid response unit are flooding the SpeccyLand site.

    All I need to is make sure that wife of yours is in the mood this week and we may get you to read and hopefully understand the Ladybird Book of Keynesian Economics that I have ordered for you.

  • Fat Bloke on Tour

    Trevor

    I don’t believe it …
    You are the new John Bercow.
    It must be that basic attraction you have for all things Nordic / Scandinavian.
    Was your conversion on the road to Copenhagen or Stockholm?

    Has the bile and bitterness spouted by all the SpeccyLand mentalists and GIB’byers proved too much for your stomach.

    Has all your trips into all things Swedish provided you with a sense of compassion that stops you from agreeing with all the creatures that crawled out from under the rock Sniffy turned over?

    One down – 99,999 to go.
    Just don’t spoil the moment by talking about economics.

  • Jebediah

    No the Tories are right to go hard at this one. The public are with them. They are in the rare position of being right for the right reasons with the public behind them. Better still the opposition are wrong, for the wrong reasons and don’t understand how the low waged and genuine unemployed view the underclass.
    They need to hammer Labour on this.
    Frazer don’t get so Labour North London middle class guilt.

    • Fat Bloke on Tour

      Jeb

      Sniffy has turned the debate on Welfare into a free fire zone.
      When the real casualties start to emerge then we will see how the public reacts.

      So far all we have heard are the bitter and twisted who are usually locked in the attic when real world issues have to be discussed.

      Sniffy has turned over the rock.
      The creatures below have spoken.
      Reality like sunlight will rout them, their attitudes and their arguments.

      • Colonel Mustard

        Doubt it.

    • mactheanti

      What are you talking about “go hard at this one”? This is people you are talking about. See if you think it is so right when the horror stories begin and when the computers fail and people are left starving queuing up outside food banks.

      • Jebediah

        Calm down… “the computers fail and peoplae are left starving” we’re talking about going back to welfare as a safety net, not a lifestyle choice. The zombie apocalypse it’s not.

      • Colonel Mustard

        Well your mob didn’t care much for the English people when they began their horrid policy of mass immigration “to rub the right’s nose in diversity”. The impact and consequences of that malicious folly will be with us rather longer than failing computers and food banks you socialist half-wit.

  • http://www.facebook.com/BradleyPitt69 Benedict Walshe

    “He has refused to go after the Tories for closing prisons, because he agrees with the policy. Politically daft, if you ask me, as the Tories are very vulnerable on this. But I grudgingly admire him for sticking to his (misguided) principles.”

    Milliband, nelson concludes, is ‘politically daft’ because he chooses not to criticise his opponents over a policy he agrees with. It seems nelson values hypocrisy over honesty. It’s nice that nelson is trying to be objective in “grudgingly” commending a left wing politician, but ultimately his judgement assumes that political sophistry is more valuable than honest and consistent policy making.

    • the viceroy’s gin

      Excellent post. This particular Speccie teenager is pure captive to the Londonistan bubble, and knows nothing other than political sophistry.

      It’s disgusting.

  • D B

    I find it quite easy to dislike Red Ed. No effort required whatsoever.

    • mactheanti

      That’s because you are stupid.

      • Colonel Mustard

        As opposed to dogmatic and judgemental – with the emphasis on mental.

  • paulus

    Well put Fraser, unfortunately for the conservative party, its well, full of conservatives, and their language can be offensive even when their motives are not. Sometimes even IDS can make you cringe.

    The post war economic and social settlement is broken, we can see a waste land and its no good calling it peace.

    I have said all along people vote for principle not politics, we know they are suppose to be an opposition but what they should have done was be a party of power temporarily out of power and that means setting a goal with an achievable end and if it means supporting government decisions then so be it. In a storm it is best to anchor in a habour, this is where the governing parties placed themselves, not strap yourself to the mast and head into the wind. When you talk about savage cuts and the deficit is rising massively it doesnt look convincing.

    Unfortunately for labour it is well full of socialists, their language can be charming even when their motives are not.

  • Hookeslaw

    The true headline and tone of this article should have been…
    ‘Miliband would have lied and misrepresented the Tories no matter what they said.’

  • Magnolia

    Totally wrong assessment in my opinion but one which will probably be shared by The Times.
    Ed showed himself to be utterly ruthless and single minded during the Labour leadership election and so I believe that his silence means that he genuinely likes Welfare as it is and that is the real reason why he isn’t attacking it.
    He has always identified himself with any victim and to him, those on welfare are all victims to be given state aid.
    The policy vacuum will be filled AFTER the next general election, probably with massive tax rises.
    Liam Burn isn’t Baldemort, it’s Ed who’s ‘you know who’.

  • http://twitter.com/judyk113 judyk113

    Ah, yes. The very principled and decent Mr Miliband, who made endless speeches of great moral outrage about bankers, whilst neglecting to mention the role played by his boss and mentor Gordon Brown and his colleague Ed Balls in letting them loose. The very principled and decent Mr Miliband, who has remained remarkably low key on moral outrage about the 1200 who died in pain and terror at Mid-Staffs hospital and the 12,000 who still die needlessly in NHS hospitals every year. The very principled and decent Mr Miliband who after years of living with his partner suddenly decided to get married, entirely unconnected with political reasons, of course, and who as an atheist made the gesture of incorporating the Jewish religious glass-breaking ceremony into his wedding, no way connected with cheap gesture politics. The very principled and decent Mr Miliband who kept Livingstone on as candidate Mayor of London when he knew very well he was neither a good nor an honest candidate, because he was frightened of the power of the unions who put him there, and who has never condemned the anti-semitic utterances Livingstone made to audiences of Islamists and Palestinian terror supporters. The very principled and decent Mr Miliband who declared himself to be a zionist in front of an audience of Jewish community grandees and then had his office the next day deny that he’s a zionist. The very principled and decent Mr Miliband who takes cheap shots at Tories as millionaires whilst remaining rather quiet about the fact that he’s a comfortable millionaire himself, a status achieved through shrewd inheritance tax avoidance arrangements for the very handsome properties he owns or co-owns in the millionaires’ district of Primrose Hill….

    • Russell

      Beautifully said and every word true and undeniably accurate.

    • mactheanti

      Poor thing, i assume that Ed Miliband and Labour have you really rattled then. – Roll on 2015 (Or sooner if the Liberal democrats cut and run and they are getting tetchy now their share if the vote is on the decline again)

  • Leo McKinstry

    What’s so decent about Ed Miliband?
    – worked alongside Damien MacBride and Ed Balls for more than a decade in that cockpit of dysfuncton, paranoia and resentment, otherwise known as Gordon Brown’s office.
    – wrecked the career of his own brother, something that most of us with brothers would find unthinkable. What makes Ed’s treachery all the greater is that, according to what I was told my one Labour MP, he dissuaded David from running against Gordon Brown. “It would be like killing our own father,” he reportedly said, telling David that his time to mount a leadership would come once Brown had resigned.
    – during the leadership campaign allowed his supporters to smear his own brother. “Ed, he’s human,” was one of their insidious slogans.
    – has indulged in ridiculous hyperbole against the Coalition in defence of the failing welfare state. Remember his absurd performance at the TUC March against the Cuts in 2011, when he claimed to be standing on the shoulders of the Suffragettes and the activists against Apartheid.
    Nor was Michael Foot such a decent old cove. After his death it emerged that he had taken money from the Soviet Union to keep Tribune going, while he failed to enlist during the Second World War in the fight against Nazism despite all his moral invective against appeasement. He claimed he suffered from health problems. But as far as I know he did not even join the Home Guard.

    • Nicholas chuzzlewit

      Over to you Fraser because that leaves your contentions regarding Red Ed in absolute tatters.

      • Nicholas chuzzlewit

        We are waiting Fraser. “But answer came their none”.

    • darwins beard

      that is a fantastic reply, cant wait for Fraser’s

    • telemachus

      Most of what you say indicates steel behind the “honest” exterior
      This is in fact all political plus
      He cannot in fact compete in the complete politician stakes needed for success with Ed Balls

      • http://owsblog.blogspot.com Span Ows

        more like ‘steal’

    • Noa

      And my father and grandfather fought in the British army for their country and the freedom of the world.
      Whilst the Milibands’ communist father didn’t, and his grandfather served the cause of stalinist totalitarianism in the Red army.

      • mactheanti

        And my father fought in the 1st world war and drove an ambulance in the blitz for this country and your right to spew bitter and twisted right wing clap trap.

        • Noa

          Bitter?
          Twisted?
          Right wing?
          Clap trap?
          I see you demonstrate the socialists’ usual unreasoned loathing of freedom of speech, country and libertarianism.

        • panfacedave

          spot-on,

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100004981542519 Tom Tom

        Your father must have been very lonely….”their country and the freedom of the world.”. Made a very poor job of defending Poland didn’t he ? I am pleased my relatives simply fought without the ideological zeal that your father obviously had….but mine were soldiers

        • Noa

          A churlish post. I thought you had more about you.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100004981542519 Tom Tom

            What had YOU done by that age ? I know exactly how my family came by MCs and CWGC graves but I do not claim their war record as my own

            • Noa

              And I’m not claiming theirs as mine, but comparing their contribution, and those of others, including your father’s, to preserving the UK and democracy, to the lack of such, and indeed the threat provided to it, by the Milibands ancestors.
              A threat which they continue.

              • Oedipus Rex

                Er Noa…Ralph Miliband, after arriving here, fought in the Royal Navy. Or so says wiki and I believe it’s right on this one. As for Ed’s granddaddy are you seriously suggesting that the politics of guilt by association should rule here?

                • Noa

                  Mmm. Oedipus

                  Ralph didn’t let his brief sojourn in HM Navy interfere with his international class struggle.

                  “…Miliband was active in a variety of left-wing groups and in January
                  1943 was elected Vice President of the LSE Students’ Union. At the “…Miliband was deeply influenced by Laski but the two men often clashed about politics. Laski told his father in December, 1942: “Laski… started to talk to me about the need to judge things for
                  myself and not only through the eyes of Karl Marx.”

                  In June 1943 Miliband joined the Royal Navy. He served on HMS Royal Arthur and HMD Valorous and saw action in the Mediterranean. He still remained interest in politics and in 1944 wrote an article about the class nature of the relationship between officers and men on board ship…”
                  http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/HISmiliband.htm

                  As to ‘guilt by association.’ Soviet Russia was a declared enemy of capitalism and the British Empire. That a principled and open Britain let an ideological enemy like Adolphe Miliband enter the United Kingdom as a refugee and remain after the war is both a credit to our democracy and the one of the major contributory reasons for its destruction.

                • Colonel Mustard

                  Er, Royal Arthur was a training establishment in the UK and Valorous was a destroyer engaged in East Coast coastal convoy protection. The last time it was in the Med was 1931.

                • Noa

                  I took the linked source in good faith Colonel M.

                  Silly thing to do I know on the web. In guilt and expiation to the stern gods of historical accuracy I can only say that I didn’t care very much were the Stalinist rating served out his call up.

                  But of course, the question arises, if not there, where?

                • Noa

                  Let in the continuing spirit of dictatorship, us remember one of his continuing intellectual gifts to the LSE and to the UK.

                  http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1363498/David-Miliband-Gaddafis-son-Saifs-horrific-lecture-LSE-fathers-name.html

              • panfacedave

                amazing tosh

    • James Strong

      For all his faults Ed Milliband did NOT wreck the career of his own brother.
      David Miliband had no more entitlement to the Labour leadership than any of the other candidates.
      Ed Miliband stood in the same election as him; he no more stood against him than he stood against Ed Balls, they all had the same right to stand.
      Since that leadership election, and particularly in the last month or so, we have seen that David Miliband is just a sulking,posturing ninny.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100004981542519 Tom Tom

      “Second World War in the fight against Nazism”

      So the Japanese and Italians were “Nazis” too were they ? Did anyone actually fight the Germans and Rumanians ?

  • Jupiter

    Milipede is very easy to dislike. He is a numpty who is hugely out of his depth & would be an even worse PM than Bonkers Broon.

    • Nicholas chuzzlewit

      Absolutely impossible. I agree with your sentiment in general terms but nobody could be worse than Gordon Brown.

      • Jupiter

        He’d have a good shot at being worse than Broon.

        • Nicholas chuzzlewit

          You are right but it is still too horrible to imagine such an attempt.

          • Hookeslaw

            So why are so many making it easy for him?

  • Austin Barry

    Odd post: it seems to be patting Ed on the back while concurrently kicking him in the nuts. An approach which many of us would agree is at least half right.

  • telemachus

    Very difficult to dislike
    Except within the party
    He truly will not last long whether Labour win or not in 2015
    As we speak Ed Balls, Yvette and Andy Burnham have his demise in their sights

    • Dicky14

      You’re a strange chap.

      • Russell

        Perhaps ‘you are a nasty piece of work aren’t you’ would be more appropriate for a Balls supporter.

        • telemachus

          Not sure it matters what label you attach to the disciples

          The message marches on
          Some of us are proud to lend our names in support of the team who will recover our great country from the decline being inflicted upon us

          • D B

            You’re joking.

          • Russell

            As deluded as McMental & Balls rolled into one.

          • Mark Turner

            Mad! but very amusing.

          • Colonel Mustard

            Well it seems to matter a lot to you lot what labels you attach to anyone who disagrees with you.

            Let’s see. “Little Englanders”. “Home Counties set” with retriever and shotgun – or is it shotgun and retriever? “Bigot” of course. “Racist” of course. “Mongrels” for the English (who apparently need the “rejuvenation” of genocide). The memorable “revanchists” and your comrade’s tedious “dog boilers”. Various “phobes” and “deniers” of course. Did I forget anything from the lexicon of hate labels spewed by the left?

  • andagain

    If the Tories learnt anything from their failure to win the last four elections, it should be that their biggest problem is people mistrusting their motives….Onlookers will be amazed at how quickly the Tories seem to forget these basic lessons.

    Not any more. The total inability of the Conservatives to remember that is simply one of the facts of life. You might as well be amazed by the fact that water is wet.

  • Russell

    Time to move to the Guardian Fraser, and team up with Polly. I can’t believe you are writing such drivel. Miliband is a nasty piece of work (a pity presenters on the Marr show cannot accuse him instead of Boris)

    • Fraser Nelson

      I disagree with Miliband on most things. But he does a v good impression of a principled and decent (if catastrophically misguided) political leader.

      • Russell

        Just read the comments which I am sure are going to pour in to your article here, apart from the deluded telemacus and fat bloke and think very hard. How many times have you seen Miliband telling downright lies about both Tory Ministers words and Tory policies? These are not the actions of a ‘decent’ bloke, they are deceitful and the normal Labour spin. smear and misrepresent (lie) techniques of old Campbell/McBride/Whelan/Brown/Balls sewer club.

        • Fraser Nelson

          That’s actually what I think is absent from the Miliband operation. Balls represents Continuity Brown. Miliband surrounds himself with academics, not political hit men. You can argue the naivety makes Miliband more dangerous as a potential leader, but can you call him a thug?

          • Russell

            Certainly not a thug (which I haven’t called him) in the Balls mould or the other unmentionable group, but certainly a slippery, sneaky, devious, untrustworthy, lying lightweight politician.

            • Hookeslaw

              The departure of David Miliband should tell Nelson what Ed Miliband is about.

              • James Strong

                The departure of David Miliband tells us what David Miliband is about.
                He thought he was entitled to the leadership and went off in a sulk when he didn’t get it.
                He has decided to leave his constituency for the chance to pursue money, (sorry, work for good in the world). He is a precious poseur. His resignation from Sunderland FC recently was another self-righteous girly pose, ‘Look at me, I’m virtuous and I can’t stay here with that nasty man.’
                There are plenty of reasons to rip Ed Miliband’s policies and behaviours to shreds, but let’s not fall into the trap of thinking that David Miliband is deserving of any sympathy at all.

            • telemachus

              I think the message is that Miliband will not be a success without Balls
              It needed Balls on Saturday to point out the iniquity of the welfare cuts in a way the electorate could understand

          • Nicholas chuzzlewit

            Fraser you are a world class journalist but you have just had an ‘off day’ with this naive nonsense. Next thing, you will be trying to tell us he has principles!

            • the viceroy’s gin

              It’s not an “off day”. This publication is leftist. So are the teenagers who write for it.

          • http://owsblog.blogspot.com Span Ows

            Unfortunately the Coalition could have been highlighting Miliband’s part in the green tax high energy prices scandal as climate change secretary under Brown but of course they have carried on the silliness so can’t slag him for it.

        • Hookeslaw

          Balls was doing a vox pop yesterday and lying through it.

      • Jupiter

        Rubbish, the only thing he does a good impression of is a numpty. Fraser – you need to get out of the Westminster bubble & speak to some people in the real world. None of them will agree with you about Milipede.

        • dalai guevara

          No, what y o u need to do is leave London entirely, perhaps follow Gidiot to the St Enoch shopping centre in Glasgow where he is to hold his ‘wanna be Briddish’ speech part 2 and then let us all know how he got on.

      • Nicholas chuzzlewit

        Mr Milliband denied the existence of a structural deficit prior to the ‘bank bail-outs’ and worked hand in glove with Gordon Brown in an attempt to dislodge a duly elected Prime Minister (however odious). That is patently dishonest, unprincipled and deliberately misleading behaviour. I accept that you must apply a more lax definition of decency in the context of politicians as opposed to ordinary mortals but to suggest that Ed Milliband is decent is downright offensive.

      • jimmy mac

        What about Miliband with the EU budget vote? He didn’t seem very principled to me.

      • fantasy_island

        Right, and Wallace does a very good impression of Ed.

      • Jebediah

        If fratricide is decent, I suppose you’re right.

        • rubyduck

          There was nothing wrong with him standing for the leadership and winning it. Why should a younger sibling give way to the career aspirations of an elder ?

          It may be the only non-wrong thing about Ed.

      • the viceroy’s gin

        And giving impressions is all that you and the Cameroons care about, which is why you and they are failing politically and electorally.

  • sarahsmith232

    Labour are refusing to support the cap. they’re policy on welfare reform has an enormous hole in it – if someone agrees to get into training then that let’s them off the hook. their ‘at the end of 2yrs take their benefit away’ policy is a load of rubbish. they got up to this the last time, so called water tight sanctions meant the same as the above, do a part-time 10hr pw course and the benefits office let people off the hook. word gets ’round v quickly in parts of this country like Manchester, I know, I’ve witnessed it. people were doing endless courses, non-stop, year on year. this is all they’re talking about. they need to be pulled on this.
    plus, all this talk about the use of language, it’s all for nothing. Ukip are no threat to the Tories, people are not going to vote for any other way come the next election than ‘exactly how absolutely screwed and ****ed over is my bank balance going to be if a vote for’ insert Labour/Tory etc. well, simple as, if you’re a tax-payer absolutely royally ****ed with Lab’, in better shape with the Tories. if you’re taking out more than you’re putting in, better under Lab’.
    I think they’re prob’ just about enough petrol tax payers, council tax payers, alcohol tax payers out there to swing it. paying through the nose for what most see as good for nothings to rot in part time/no work will cut through, so the language used is irrelevant

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100004981542519 Tom Tom

    Fraser, we are 3 years into this government and it is flailing around looking for issues to stir up and then drop. You write of local elections but fail to mention that the big cities are not having elections this year so this media circus is somewhat limited. By the time Metropolitan Councils have elections the slipway to 30 March 2015 will be well-greased…in short May 2014 is a year of major elections, 2013 is not. The big problem they should think about is France exploding in rage this summer and what the effect will be in English cities.

    • Archimedes

      “The big problem they should think about is France exploding in rage this summer and what the effect will be in English cities”

      Why will France explode in rage?

      • dalai guevara

        We can only speculate: the Depardieus of this world will move their business to Russia, the Russians who had moved their business to Cyprus will now insist that Cannes is declared an independent tax authority (please note Monaco is history).
        So all is and remains in balance 😉

      • Hookeslaw

        Because its summer? I do not see the reason why it will affect the UK.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100004981542519 Tom Tom

        It has a disastrous economy, mounting unemployment, a highly unpopular President, massive corruption, and it is hard to see how it is going to avoid become distinctly second-tier to Germany. I am surprised you are so out of touch. http://www.welt.de/wirtschaft/article115064589/Das-sind-die-naechsten-vier-Opfer-der-Euro-Krise.html

        • Makroon

          That’s what everyone keeps saying, but the CAC40 is doing OK, their 10 year bond yield dropped below 1.8% last week, and, according to the Sunday Times, UK foreign investment last year was £31B compared to France’s £30B (very hard to believe, but there you go).
          Something in the French cosmos doesn’t add up, and nobody seems able to nail it.

      • Russell

        The rate of unemployment, their deficit, their debt, their public sector strikes as Milibands pal fails to keep his promise of increasing the public sector, because the French love to strike with violence and burning sheep etc., because they run out of money……there are plenty of reasons why France could explode in the summer, none of which will assist Miliband in his quest to follow Hollandaises example..

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100004981542519 Tom Tom
      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100004981542519 Tom Tom
  • DWWolds

    Wait till the unions really start to play the hand they want Milliminor to deal for them.

    • Nicholas chuzzlewit

      A terrifyingly prescient comment.

  • http://twitter.com/ThatcheriteLee Thatcherite Lee

    Has someone kidnapped the real Fraser and replaced him with some lefty?
    He’s talking some bonkers rubbish today.

    • Fraser Nelson

      I mean it. If I’d been born in a welfare ghetto, where most people didn’t work, I’d be welfare-dependent now. There but for the grace of God…

      • Austin Barry

        Fraser, don’t put yourself down, that’s the job of CoffeeHousers.

        • telemachus

          As far as I can see a number of posters here villify all those who chose to write anything other than Telegraph orthodoxy.
          Remember how Daniel Korski was treated and look at the bile metered it to Lloyd Evans on Wednesdays
          A little tolerance is refreshing

          • Noa

            metered?

            By the CH standard unit of measurement?

            Which could be the bean….

          • Colonel Mustard

            Yet you choose to vilify all those who write against Labour orthodoxy and you do not tolerate let alone promote a diversity of mutually respecting but opposing political views.

            Hypocrite.

          • Andy

            Since when have you ever been tolerant ?

      • Hexhamgeezer

        Really? How do you know? I was born in a s#ith0le but dragged myself out of it – and I wasn’t the only one to do so. The only consistent element to our escape was that there was not one single thing that the Liblabcon artists did that helped me or the others.

        • http://www.facebook.com/fraser.nelson.9 Fraser Nelson

          Good for you. I’m just saying i doubt id have had the strength of character to do the same.

          • Hexhamgeezer

            It wasn’t strength of character but a fight for survival.

            Anyways. Talking of an alleged decency is irrelevant. The country has massive problems but Ed, dave and yourself belong to a bubble that are not serous about them. They are consummate professional politicians who along with yourself have agreed to keep the parameters of the debate to a very restricted section of the playground. If you were serious about politics (i.e. the country’s problems) you would be unable to sit in the same room with something like milliband, so offended would you be by the damage he and his cohorts have already wreaked on the country.

            This is not a polite dinner party game.

            You just don’t get it.

            • Daniel Maris

              I think that’s the point. Fraser is the worst of all worlds: he wants to protect bankers as an endangered species and eliminate debt in an economic gotterdammerung, whilst insisting we coo lovingly at benefit cheats, welfare mothers and the prospect of further mass immigration.

            • Andy

              You have a point. Fraser seems like a nice bloke, but he, like Miliband, Cleggy and ‘Call me Dave’ have basically done bugger all save politics. They do not have much grasp of the realities outside the Westminster bubble. This is actually a huge problem – this disconnection between those who rule and the ruled.

              One of the reasons I support Iain Duncan Smith is because he spent a lot of time looking at the lives of people on benefits and on these s**tholes estates as Hexamgeezer calls them. Welfare has become a life style choice, for some, rather than being a helping hand. And for far too many people it traps them on benefits and keeps them in poverty. Labour had 13 years to try and do something about it, but they did nothing and actually have nothing positive to say. Just look at some of the comments on here from their trolls.

              I recently went to a lunch at a grand hotel on the edge of a major city with above average unemployment. And yet the waiter and wine waiter were both Hungarian and the waitress that brought coffee through to the drawing room was Polish. One has to ask why.

              • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100004981542519 Tom Tom

                Go to Poland and see just how the absence of shop opening hours gives work to girls and how well they do it. It is amazing how pleasant, polished and effective they are in contrast to the self-centred offerings in the UK

                • Noa

                  If you compare and contrast the you should consider offering an explanation as to why there is a difference;
                  Is it because, until Poland gained its freedom, the country was one great council estate, but without welfare benefits?
                  Or was it because it had a unifying Roman Catholic faith which preserved morals and values?
                  And why is the UK as debauched as you portray?

          • Julian_F

            I’m not sure anyone lacking in such basic strength of character is fit to run a major news magazine.

          • the viceroy’s gin

            Agreed. You leftists don’t have much strength of character.

        • Daniel Maris

          Didn’t you get free milk? … or were you post Thatcher?

          • Hexhamgeezer

            I think I got free milk at 5 or possibly 6 yo.

      • Andy

        Possibly so Fraser, but Iain Duncan Smith and Frank Field have studied the problem and want to help break this bleak picture. Contrast that with the attitude of the Labour Party who want to keep them on benefits and poor.

        • Colin

          Your last sentence is spot on.

      • the viceroy’s gin

        You are dependent, lad.

        Step out of that Londonistan bubble, and go find a job, if you can.

      • Hookeslaw

        The only word to describe this is ‘wet’.

        The issue is the existance of this dependency culture

      • Chatterclass

        Oh dear, they are their own worst nightmare. Reminds one of the Republican party. Nasty doesn’t win.

        • Colonel Mustard

          Nasty doesn’t win? Really? Well New Labour won in 1997 and again in 2001 and 2005. And in 2010 Brown’s McBride-engined nasty smear machine managed to get 29% of the vote and far more seats than they deserved.

      • Julian_F

        I was and I’m not. Why would you be?

  • Makroon

    Labour – “well meaning, if naive and ineffectual”.
    Your Scottish slip is showing again Fraser.
    Down here, people are more likely to regard Labour as hypocritical, vindictive and bent.

    Red may be “difficult to dislike”, but he is dead easy to despise.
    Especially when he sits next to his ‘chum in crime’, let-it-all-hang-out Balls.

    • Fraser Nelson

      Makroon, remind me how badly Labour was wiped out in 2010?

    • Fraser Nelson

      Remind me, how badly was Labour wiped out in 2010?

      • Russell

        Worst defeat in their History, biggest loss of votes, but saved by the disgraceful constituency sizes which they benefit from.

        • telemachus

          Benefit from constituency size
          Benefit from Scotland
          And now benefit from the Coalition home goals- bedroom tax, 5% pay rise for the rich, tax breaks to buy second homes
          A robot could do Miliband’s job and succeed

          • alexsandr

            u missed out postal votes.

      • http://owsblog.blogspot.com Span Ows

        Don’t be silly, they will never be ‘wiped out’ when they have a 25 to 30% guaranteed even if they did no campaigning at all. The English electoral map is blue (may not be so blue next time) and only Scottish Labour saved Brown from a massive disaster.

        • Colonel Mustard

          + the constituency imbalance that gives them a built-in advantage + the postal voting scams + a newly imported electorate

      • sarahsmith232

        I know the above comment, Makroon, is right.
        people that despised Labour still voted for them in 2010, ’cause they were voting to keep their free stuff.
        you have to know Labour is despised in England, in their heartlands also,

      • the viceroy’s gin

        Better to remind you that you and your Cameroonian heroes are leftists, and electoral failures.

      • Noa

        And why was that?

        It wasn’t just the boundary issue, David Cameron didn’t convince the electorate then, despite the hapless Brown.

    • Fat Bloke on Tour

      Mak

      25 likes in less than a minute.
      Incredible my good man, incredible.

      Blow it oot yer erse ya rocket.
      AstroTurf at this scale is hard to believe.

      • Colonel Mustard

        Goodness what erudition. Hard to believe you are the same economic genius lecturing us with a plethora of impressive, albeit dodgy, statistics.

        But it’s difficult to argue against the dislike for your dear comrade-leader demonstrated here. The best you and the other two muppets can do is heckle.

  • UlyssesReturns

    Fraser, if not an ardent admirer, I have long respected you and have seen in you a reasonably safe pair of hands for the world’s best political magazine. However…You may find it difficult to dislike Milliband but I assure you, many of us to the right of you find it extremely easy to detest the man and all he stands for (I suspect a number of his colleagues, including Balls & Co share our views). Milliband has not decided to take another political hit on welfare. Labtard invested their entire political ideology (and our treasure) in building a welfare-dependent client state – tax credits to working families and the growth in Housing Benefit demonstrating the destructive madness of their strategy the best. Now the country has had a wake up call courtesy of that scumbag Philpott and the entire labtard leadership is caught in the headlights of taxpaying voters’ fury and incomprehension. For a party that has failed to generate a single workable policy in 3 years in opposition, their current plight is not about to change overnight regardless of Harman and Byrne’s pathetic efforts. Finally, labtard will not be able to convince the British voters they can fix the broken welfare state. On this they have no answers and what we are witnessing is a watershed in British politics, as long as the Tories don’t screw up.

    • Archimedes

      The Tories have very strong credentials on welfare. They’ve stated their position, and no one doubts that welfare is a very different thing today than it was yesterday. What exactly is to be gained by going further and faster, rather than going slowly and allowing things to develop naturally?

      The rhetoric has been sufficient. The Tories do not need to force Labour to talk about welfare anymore — in fact, it’s better if they don’t, because Labour will adapt if welfare is always on the agenda: of course they will.

      The Tories have won on welfare. They’ve won, and the way to consolidate the position is to put it behind them.

      • Andy

        Because welfare is about people. On some of these sink estates you have generations who have never ever worked. They lead broken miserable lives and every day you waste on reforming this rotten system someone leads another useless worthless day.

        Philpott’s is a very extreme example of what is wrong with the welfare state – and I do not mean his wicked and evil crime – but the attitude of far too many on the left, be it the soft or Fascist variety, is that you are not allowed to comment on this and welfare.

    • Fat Bloke on Tour

      Dido Class Cruiser (Fiction)

      29 likes in 9 minutes …

      Remarkable if it was all not so false.
      Away and bile yer Heid ya muppet.

      • dalai guevara

        Oh my word, as Grand Schnapps put it ‘we will make sure that work always pays’. Ahahahaha!

        What about a single workable policy of three years in…government?

      • Colonel Mustard

        When Scotland becomes independent will you disappear up your own socialist paradise and leave us alone?

  • Archimedes

    The Tories seem to have a penchant for overplaying their hand. Whenever they think they’re onto a winner they get a little too excited. They did it with Europe in 2001, immigration in 2005, and now they’re doing it with welfare. Unfortunately the Tory party is still looking for Thatcher, but Thatcher has retired. Unfortunately they are still trying to fight a war that they’ve already won.

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