Ed Miliband’s speech to the Scottish Labour conference is another illustration that he intends to depict ‘One Nation Labour’ as the answer to so-called Tory divisiveness. Miliband told the conference:
‘As leader of the Labour Party [I] will never seek to divide our country and say to young person in Inverness or the older worker laid off in Ipswich desperately looking for work, that they are scroungers, skivers or somehow cheating the system.’
But in the context of today’s Independent story about Labour planning to go into the next election committed to higher spending than the Tories, a story which Ed Balls crossly contested on the radio this morning, what struck me about the speech was the way Miliband talked about Labour’s policies.
First he said ‘that’s why if we were in government now we would cancel the millionaires’ tax cut, and protect the tax credits that make work pay.’ This appears to be a time-limited commitment, one that only applies to the here and now when Labour won’t be able to implement it.
His next line was ‘that’s why we want to introduce a 10p starting rate for income tax.’ This strikes me as a stronger commitment, there’s no time limit attached.
At some point soon, Labour is going to have to start talking about what it would do if it wins the next election. As some of those close to Ed Miliband concede, talking about what Labour would do if they were in power now, but refusing to say what they would do if they won in 2015, is no longer enough.