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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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