Coffee House

The danger for Miliband of being too confident about his anti-business stance

19 May 2014

8:53 AM

19 May 2014

8:53 AM

Why is Ed Miliband so content with accusations that he’s anti-business and a bit of a lefty? The Labour leader was grilled this morning on his relations with business leaders when he appeared on the Today programme, and while he did an adequate job of defending himself, he didn’t seem too perturbed by the questions levelled at him, nor the suggestion that his party is bleeding votes to Ukip. Why is he displaying such zen-like calm?

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The reason is not just the Labour leader’s intellectual self-confidence but also because the former is a way of solving the latter. As Nick Robinson pointed out after the Labour leader’s interview, Ukip voters are pretty keen on politicians cracking down on big business.

But here’s a problem that the Labour leader may well have considered but will have put off giving deep thought to until after the. 2015 election. What if a lot of these populist policies don’t work? Loyal Labourites will argue that of course price controls in the energy market, higher minimum wages and rent caps will work and that they are addressing real problems that real people are struggling with. But just suppose they cause a few problems too, possibly some of the problems that those despised business leaders have been warning of?

If these policies do fail, or if Labour in government decides they might cause more problems than they’re worth, the effect will be to increase that deep discontent with the political system in this country that Ed Miliband (and every party leader not in government over the past few years) identified this morning. Which may make his confidence appear a little dangerous.

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Show comments
  • Ipsmick

    Reading this lot it does seem fair to suspect that rabid right-wingers, filled with loathing and hatred as they are, are the nastiest of the lot.

  • John Smith

    ED MILIBAAND is getting desperate so is the Miliband one

  • Peter Stroud

    Miliband seems to be a fantasist, he really seems to think he can change Britain into some sort of a Soviet state, with himself the mighty chairman. But he is dangerous, even if he does look stupid. His almost evangelical approach to the phoney climate debate should warn us that he could be even more damaging, than the current Energy Secretary. Add to this his ideas about rent control, and price fixing: and we have old Socialism rearing its head. Very worrying. But I really cannot believe the voters will be so foolish as to vote him into power.

  • saffrin

    “As Nick Robinson pointed out after the Labour leader’s interview, Ukip voters are pretty keen on politicians cracking down on big business.”

    Well that’s news to me and I’ve been voting UKIP ten years or so.
    Must be another LibLabCon/MSM disassembling myth?

  • Greenslime

    Moribund is trying to buy the votes of those who can’t put two and two
    together and come up with four – of which there are quite a few in this
    country. During this interview he made several assertions which were not
    tested by Sarah Montague who seemed to be reading
    her interview from a script. Two good examples; on Europe “look, I’m
    the person who wants to stay in” and, on the minimum wage, “the
    Chancellor said £7 and failed to meet it”. Just for the record (and again this morning) Cameron has openly said that
    he is for staying in and will campaign accordingly – but at least he accepts that the
    voters should get the opportunity for a say. Clegg is unashamedly an
    In’er but that the people mustn’t be trusted with an opinion. On the £7 minimum wage, at least Osborne was prepared to state a number (which is more than Moribund did, and
    still has a year to work towards that.

    Moribund’s brushing off the fact that 62 Labour MP’s have
    staff on zero hours contracts is the most extreme example of chutzpah I
    have heard for a while.

    Labour just does not care what business thinks of it or its policies. Business is merely a source of funds for the party’s welfare spending. So the only thing that matters is that the party gains power.
    Then, Miliband thinks, he can solve all our ills through taking control of
    everything from the centre.

    Labour’s current tribal,
    class-driven, campaign is another indication that it has given up any
    real policy driven initiative and has decided to target the lowest
    common denominator in the most cynical way.

    Even Mr and Mrs
    Ballzup, despite having similar centralist inclinations know this and
    that is why they have very carefully distanced themselves from him. That
    should worry him much more than the fact that the majority of the
    voting public see him as, er, odd.

  • Denis_Cooper

    “As Nick Robinson pointed out after the Labour leader’s interview, Ukip voters are pretty keen on politicians cracking down on big business.”

    Well, if Nick Robinson pointed that out then it must be true, even if he adduced
    no evidence to support his assertion, and so it bears repeating as a given truth by another journalist who needs to chuck together an article this sunny morning.

    • Tony_E

      I’m afraid that even a broken watch is right twice a day, and this is such a moment.

      Just about everyone I know thinks that Big Business is to blame for many of their problems. They feel exploited. And they have a point – the EU is a corporatist movement, which allows big business unprecedented access to the levers of regulatory power. This has allowed the large companies to influence regulation is such a way as to make it unaffordable for the smaller business or the new entrant. Reduced competition in domestic markets is a big driver of cost increase.

      But free markets would actually reduce the power of corporations, because it would allow business to become more local, smaller and more competitive.

      For example, I had to get my cavity walls filled. There were no small local companies that I could use, because they had to have the accreditation which is very expensive to gain. They have to have this accreditation so that I can sell my house (Environmental assessment pack). So I had to go for a company 60 miles away, who are a national chain. Cost, probably twice what is should be.

      • Blindsideflanker

        “the EU is a corporatist movement, which allows big business unprecedented access to the levers of regulatory power”

        Not just that, where multinationals find totalitarian/authoritarian regimes attractive, but we also find the EU is a vehicle for the internationalist left.

        We live in a very odd time where both the globalist right and internationalist left are working to a common cause. Both of them see the sovereign sate as a hinderance to their interests.

      • Denis_Cooper

        But do any of your points justify the generalisation that “Ukip voters are pretty keen on politicians cracking down on big business”? How many want Miliband making matters worse by “cracking down”?

        • Tony_E

          Well certainly the movement from the Labour heartlands to UKIP certainly would suggest that a good proportion of UKIP’s support comes from a certain standpoint.

          This is where I differ with you a little in that I see the whole UKIP phenomenon as being very different to the Thatcher revolution, and being therefore unprecedented.

          The other side is the anti-Corporatist/ economic classical liberals like myself who might consider lending their support to UKIP, certainly for this current election, simply to help build a significant grouping against further integration in the European Parliament itself, rather than as a protest to domestic issues.

  • Colonel Mustard

    Be afraid. Miliband is Muammar Gaddafi circa 1967-68. I have always thought he has the appearance and demeanour of a dictator in the making, a real demagogue too.

  • Colonel Mustard

    It is hilarious. Miliband is well on the way to “nationalising life” where everyone becomes essentially an employee of the state, something Brown was keen on conjuring. “One corporate nation” might be a better buzz term but instead of a top heavy management structure with a fat cat board we’ll have a top heavy structure of well-paid gauleiters and apparatchiks (more or less already in post) with a political elite, a politburo, calling the shots.

    And that is “progress”? Mao tried it and China has now moved on from the resultant misery and chaos.

    The Tories need to drop the fake centre-left credentials and realise they are participating gleefully in their own eventual proscription in the ultimate single party state the left aspire to. A mass back bench defection to UKIP might be a good start.

    • DWWolds

      It is not hilarious Colonel. It is deadly serious.

      • Colonel Mustard

        I’m afraid I can no longer take Britain or the fickle behaviour of its electorate very seriously. It is going to get what it deserves. The very fact that Labour are still polling on 30% and media pundits predict them winning in 2015 despite the experience of 1997-2010 is laughable. It is the consequences that will be deadly serious.

        • Blindsideflanker

          “Labour are still polling on 30% ”

          Because rather than getting into the trenches to politically fight Labour, the Cameron Conservatives threw in the towel and said ‘ Me too’ to anything Labour wanted. Rather than sound finances it was ‘me too’ to Labours tax and spend. It was ‘Me too’ to the climate change con. It was ‘Me too’ to Labour’s constitutional dogs breakfast.

          The Cameron Conservatives preferred to pick a fight with their own core support than pick a fight with Labour.

          I just caught a bit of the Politics show where the BBC had set up another kick UKIP competition. Here David Lammy got on his high horse declaring Farage racist. But would a Cameron Conservative ever have the fight in them to throw that charge back a Lammy, for when he was seeking to get the nomination for Bernie Grant’s seat, he declared that it should be kept for Black people, in doing so seeking to rule out Bernie Grant’s widow who happened to be white. How racist is that?

          • Inverted Meniscus

            Again, well said.

      • Inverted Meniscus

        Terrifying actually.

  • HookesLaw

    ‘Ukip voters are pretty keen on politicians cracking down on big business.’ — I thought they were ‘libertarians’. If Robinson is right (which would be a first) they are in fact extremely neseccitarian.

    • Colonel Mustard

      The way to “crack down on big business”, and it is really counterpointing the cosy alliance between corporate government and corporate exploitation, requires something much more nuanced and imaginative than this. For example EU regulation lobbied for, backed by and/or accepted by big business that undermines SME. Local government that penalises SME whilst providing concessions to big business. Etc.

  • LucieCabrol

    NO….its really not that at all…the socialists are quite reconciled to another term out of office…a lot of the boys and girls got slotted into nice little earners around the quango circuit…Milliband is terrified of winning this time round. The repair hasn’t been completed, the coffers are not yet full….the full incompetence and bankruptcy of the socialist dream would be exposed if, a la Hollande, he were to be given the reigns again……hence the seventies talk which strengthens his base with all the besocked, sandal wearing bearded morons whilst ensuring middle England veers away from him.

  • Tony_E

    If some of the consequences businesses have spoken of do come to pass – the fact that they warned of it will be used to perpetrate the myth that the businesses are manipulating events to bring about a change of government, or to punish those who pass rules to curtail their profits.

    There will be plenty of cheerleaders for such a view.

    • Holly

      Name three.

      • Tony_E

        BBC, Guardian, Sky News.

      • LucieCabrol

        Independant, Standard, Mirror

  • Count Dooku

    Socialists don’t care about the actual objective results of their policies, they only worry about presentation and appearing to be doing the right thing. Friedman pointed this out decades ago. Don’t look at hopes, look at results.

    The brilliant “Leftythinker” at the Telegraph comments made a fantastic response when someone asked how the poor would heat their homes after Miliband’s price freeze destroyed the energy industry. His response : “fairness”.

    • Tony_E

      Fairness : (Def) – A condition that only exists when everyone has total equality

      (Id) It is a testament to the fairness of our society that all our people are equally cold, hungry and poor, and without exception no inequality is accepted.

      • Colonel Mustard

        Never happens in lefty regimes though. The politburo/apparatchik/quangocrat class always feather their own nests quite happily whilst bleating about “equality” and “fairness”.

        The “equality and fairness” agenda is just an emotive tool for one privileged elite to seize power from another.

    • David

      That’s a typo. He meant, “furnace”.

    • LucieCabrol

      Spot on…zero done in Labours rule to plan for succesion to Nuclear and coal fired power stations, ‘left it till later’…we will now be in danger of black outs…and in any event will be paying top dollar prices to bring on emergency cover in times of stress to supply…..

  • Blindsideflanker

    It is not being anti business, the direction of travel with Miliband is a lot more frightening than that. What we are seeing being mapped out with the thoughts of Chairman Miliband is the nightmarish world of state control that seeks to take us back to the 1970’s , where the comrades were deciding everything.

    • Andy

      It is called Fascism. Miliscum has a totalitarian mind, but what can one expect when he is the spawn of Marxist filth like Ralph Miliband, who hated this country. The answer to most of the problems is not less competition, as Miliband did when he was in power, but more.

      The left are always profoundly illiberal. It is a pity that the public fall for scum like him.

      • HookesLaw

        Why should you be surprised that the public fall for low, base populism?

      • monty61

        ‘The left are always profoundly illiberal. It is a pity that the public fall for scum like him.’ And some equally rabid nutters on the right lack any sense of irony or proportion.

      • Blindsideflanker

        To quote Ralph Miliband (someone Ed Miliband says profoundly influenced his values)……”The Englishman is a rabid nationalist. They are perhaps the most nationalist people in the world…When you hear the English talk of this war you sometimes almost want them to lose it to show them how things are. They have the greatest contempt for the continent in general and for the French in particular…England
        first. This slogan is taken for granted by the English people as a whole. To lose their empire would be the worst possible humiliation””

        • Andy

          Words you will note that the Marxist scum Miliband never retracted nor withdrew. And yet it was the British, the English, who saved his worthless life. Had the Nazis won the war, as he hoped, he would have soon been shot because he was a scumbag Marxist and also because he was a Jew. How ironic that it was the Englsh who saved him.

    • HookesLaw

      Correct Miliband comes across more and more as a crypto marxist. Indeed the one thing that ought to scare everybody (W)itless about Miliband is his own self professed ‘intellectual certainty’.
      Its that kind of certainty that ends up moving phantom divisions around, which is where his mentor Brown ended up..

    • Colonel Mustard

      And 1970s China which is even worse.

      • dmitri the impostor

        It is to 1960s China that we should look to answer the question:

        ‘What if a lot of these populist policies don’t work?’

        If the populist policies don’t work, Miliband will initiate something like the Four Pests Campaign. Killing all the sparrows might kick off a plague of locusts, but hey, the Great Helmsman will have been seen to have done something.

        Then to solve the locust crisis, he can kick off a Sixteen Pests Campaign. And so on. Ad infinitum.

      • Blindsideflanker

        We are getting there, when you read about the cultural revolution, where people we dammed for not thinking in the right way, and when not able to spew out the thoughts of Chairman Mao on queue, you see a similar Orwellian society being created here, where any opinion on immigration must be first prefaced with claims that immigrants are wonderful hard working, and that our whole economy would collapse without them, before being able to make any criticism of the mass immigration policy. Where all cultures are beyond criticism , apart from our own. Where we are dictated to be the tyranny of those who seek offence, so they can be offended.

        • Colonel Mustard

          I give up – I’ve tried three replies each of which has been moderated “on hold” for word(s) I cannot identify.

          • Barakzai

            Ditto on another thread. It’s tiresome.
            What’s the game, Mr Nelson?

        • Inverted Meniscus

          Well said!

        • LucieCabrol

          Mao used to stop his car whilst driving down the road, have a passing peasant girl dragged into the car for his pleasure, then drive on….communist…feudalist…no difference.

    • Gareth

      It’s difficult to take a critique such as yours seriously when you seem incapable of accepting any nuance in policy. The choice offered at the next election will not be “state controls all” vs “state controls nothing”, and it’s naive to present it in that way.

      • Inverted Meniscus

        OK for the pedants amongst us; the point is Miliband wants the State to intervene and control wherever it possibly can. It is difficult to think of many areas of everyday life which Miliband does not believe the state should dictate our behaviour.

        • Gareth

          You miss my point – the state already exerts influence in numerous areas of life. And most people are rather happy that there are food hygiene regulations, a Highway Code, controls on trading standards etc.

          It’s a convenient rhetoric tool to roll out clichés about the 1970s, facism, communism and so on, because it’s far easier than actually critiquing a specific policy. But, as so often with this site, it leaves me thinking that your objection (I speak in the plural) is partisan rather than objective.

          • LucieCabrol

            Those points you made are all regulatory, and most would agree with them. Where Milliband is waving his red flag is he effectively wishes to get involved with setting prices…governments have never got this right…it is a guaranteed precursor to failure. His comments on power have already halted investment into power projects, his comments on landlords and property was biased and unworkable using tenuous figures (he used 6 month vaccancy numbers rather than 12 for properties because it gave a much larger percentage…this then included numerous properties that were in being sold or renovated….scum…trying to win an argument, not whats best for the country.

            • Gareth

              See, that’s a much clearer (and deserved) critique of the policy itself.

              My own view is that Labour will run in 2015 on an energy price freeze promise, as it’s tangible and easy to sell to the electorate. What I expect they would actually do in power is impose a maximum market share for any company, in the hope that increasing competition will drive down prices. If they’re smart, they would also consider separating the selling and generating sides. If they’re bold, they would find a way to renationalise power infrastructure.

              I’m sure no everyone on this site would agree with that, but it seems to me to be far more likely to be effective than a simple price control.

              • LucieCabrol

                I agree that on the basis of a perfect world and perfect government employee’s.. a nationalized workforce working for the national power infrastructure company sounds beautiful and efficient. Sadly the reality was coal in the seventies…whilst less than perfect a relatively competitive utility wildlife, with as much competitive element as can be enforced, over looked by an intelligent and informed regulator (very difficult to achieve, I know) is the least worst way forward. Truly our utilities across the board were rubbish in the seventies…they have all improved immeasurably since and compare very favorably to our developed world competitors.

                • Gareth

                  Yes, I take your point, but I’m not talking about the whole industry, simply the distribution infrastructure. This could be contracted out to private firms, but funding it from the public sector would remove the need for private firms to stump up for something which isn’t directly in their interest to pay for.

                  What the private energy firms are suggesting that they will only invest in infrastructure if they are making large profits.

                • LucieCabrol

                  you may well be right…I’m certainly not an expert.

      • Blindsideflanker

        These are hardly nuanced policies, but even if I accept your claim, these are ‘nuanced’ polices before he has got into power. What will be the reality be when he gets to power?

        It should also be remembered what back ground he is steeped in i.e hard left politics. His Father , Hobsbawm, and look at Grandfather who twice went off to fight for the invading Red Army, against his fellow Polish people, and when that went wrong, he fled to Bella Khun’s murderous regime in Hungary.

        • Gareth

          When I said it’s difficult to take your critique seriously, it wasn’t a call for something even more hysterical and tenuous.

          If the policy is misguided, explain its flaws and you might persuade someone. When you start citing the Red Army, you just look like someone with nothing to say.

          • LucieCabrol

            Its an influence…generally parental influence is quite strong on your views, beliefs and direction.

            • Gareth

              There are many influences.

  • LadyDingDong

    The point is, Millllliband probably believes his interventionist policies will work, even though the majority of his colleagues, including Ballllls don’t. In any event, it doesn’t matter because, by the time the electorate find out and, a la France, the policies are reversed but they are still in power. The other alternative, which given their history is the more likely, is that Millllliband and Llabour are lying through their teeth in order to con the electorate into voting for them.

    • HookesLaw

      Labour is not bothered about the policies working – they are as you suggest just pre election bribes.

      • Holly

        ‘Labour are not bothered about the policies working’, sums up Labour
        and their dismal record when in government perfectly, regardless of who the leader is.

        • HookesLaw

          Which is why we need to keep them out.

          • Kitty MLB

            And we will comrade.We shall have a Conservative crusade and defeat plasticine MIlipedes ludicrous leftie army and anyone else’s army. Cameron shall be Wellington.

          • Holly

            I don’t know how they’ve got the brass neck to even appear in public!
            !…Just in case telemachus decides to read the comments.
            Where is the little bug?

            • Kitty MLB

              Holly. Labour just have no shame. and how they assume people would still listen to them is quite beyond belief. They
              are all dung beetles and should be treated as such.
              I am sure Telemachus will turn up at some point, he is that
              annoying little wasp, forever hovering around and managing
              to avoid being swatted.

    • Jackthesmilingblack

      Cat on the keyboard?

      • LadyDingDong

        I am taking a lllleaf from Axelllrod.

  • kyalami

    “Why is he displaying such zen-like calm?”

    He isn’t: it’s rabbit-in-the-headlights paralysis.

    • HookesLaw

      Its base electioneering politics. Its Labour giving away free money. Raising the minimum wage does not cost the govt a penny it only costs jobs. Given the recent wage restraint then by Milibands ruling the minimum wage should have fallen.

      • Holly

        ‘Free’ money?

        • Tony_E

          There is such a thing as free money, well free to governments at the time anyway. Deficit financing, that was allowed possible because the Nixon administration tore up the Bretton Woods agreement has unleashed a wave of deficit spending all over the Western World.

          So the cycle is that minimum wage is increased, but unemployment rises. Benefits then rise to meet the rise in minimum wage. This is funded through monetary expansion. But the majority appear better off, as they did through inevitable asset rises and imported deflation from China in 2000-7.

          So this can be achieved temporarily in a moment of reduced demand, but as soon as demand picks up (whether driven by asset increases, recovery of foreign markets or some other function), then inflation picks up and the expansion has to be slowed or stopped. And then it’s 2008 with knobs on.

      • Rhoda Klapp8

        Raising the minimum wage makes money for the govt. The employee if on benefits gets to keep little of it. The employer pays the wage and a bit more NI. The state cuts the benefits and takes the tax. Money moves from the employer to the state, the employee is no better off.

    • Holly

      This comment has been removed!
      Way too much ‘unparliamentary’ language for a Monday.

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