Skip to Content

Coffee House

Red Ed is bringing back populist socialism

24 September 2013

4:16 PM

24 September 2013

4:16 PM

‘Red Ed is back,’ said the Daily Mirror’s Kevin Mcguire, and it’s a fair summary of today’s speech. He has pledged to use state power to force the hand of property companies: “use it or lose it” he said, reviving the idea of compulsory purchases. His new flagship policy is imposing a 20-month price freeze on domestic energy prices, ordering private companies around. He won a standing ovation when he pledged to reverse the Conservative (and Tony Blair) liberal reforms of the NHS. Now, you can say a lot about Ed Miliband’s shortcomings but you can’t call him vacuous. He now has an identifiable mission: to bring back ‘socialism’, as he pledged to do Sunday.

Today he told us about the fruits of this populist socialism: confiscating land, freezing energy bills until 2017, schools offering free extra childcare (paid for by bashing banks). It all amounts to a firm, left wing agenda that the audience in the hall loved. It’s popular – who’d object to free stuff, paid for by the deep pockets of profiteering companies? The sort of politics that Blair thought he’d buried. The kind of cost-of-living remedies we thought lay in the same shallow grave as Harold Wilson’s prices-and-incomes policy.

Lots of speeches made at conferences are inconsequential: not this one. Under Miliband, socialism is making something of a comeback in Westminster – a new, populist socialism rebooted by a surprisingly confident Labour leader. And as a result of today’s speech, the stakes at the next election have just risen considerably.

Listen to what Fraser Nelson, Isabel Hardman and James Forsyth made of Miliband speech

Subscribe to The Spectator today for a quality of argument not found in any other publication. Get more Spectator for less – just £12 for 12 issues.

Show comments


The Spectator Comment Policy

Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.