How Red Is Ed Miliband?

Health – Left

Increase funding and de-commercialise the NHS. Wants to decrease waiting times for a more efficient system.

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Middle Britain – Left

Insisted there will be “no lurch to the left” and used an article from the Sunday Telegraph to focus on issues that affect the ‘squeezed middle [classes], such as immigration. Miliband may be more mindful of neglecting the working classes (as New Labour was accused of) but recent comments suggest he will not overlook the importance of New Labour’s natural constituency.

The deficit – Solidly centre left

Miliband has not made his position clear yet, only saying he would use Alistair Darling’s deficit reduction plan. His choice of Chancellor will be clear. Picking Ed Balls might indicate a decisive move away from Darling’s – and the last Labour government’s – deficit reduction plan, which Balls described as “too ambitious”.

Education – Solidly centre left

Miliband favours a graduate tax which would mean those who go on to earn more, pay more for their higher education. But he might instead plump for a graduate contribution, which would limit people paying back their actual costs of education, and be less redistributive. He has criticised coalition cuts to the schools building programme but supports the city academy programme that is disliked by most of the Left.

Industrial relations – Left

Miliband has said he will not oppose all public sector cuts being planned by the coalition but has condemned cuts to the Building Schools for the Future programme. He has not ruled out supporting strikes called as a ‘last resort’. His plan to extent Will Hutton’s review of high pay to the private sector will be welcomed by the public sector but he has ruled out introducing a maximum wage.

Taxation – Solidly centre left

Although New Labour introduced the 50% tax rate it did so reluctantly and briefed that it was likely to be temporary. Miliband has said it should be permanent. He has also advocated an increased role for taxes in reducing the deficit, including hitting the bankers harder.

“I would keep the 50p rate permanently. It’s not just about reducing the deficit, it’s about fairness in our society and that’s why I’d keep the 50p tax rate, not just for a parliament.”

On the higher tax rate, Ed Miliband is clearly to the left of his main rival, his brother, who said he would keep the 50p rate only for one parliament.

The Economy – Left

Miliband has followed the political fashion in saying that the economy had got too dependent on fiance, and too unbalanced as a result. That is hardly earth-shattering, as even George Osborne says the same. Miliband talks vaguely about a more proactive industrial policy, developing ideas Peter Mandelson was working on in his last years in office. There are, however, as yet very few details.

Defence – Left

Miliband has said he would include the issue of Trident renewal in the current Strategic Defence and Security Review. He is believed to favour a cheaper alternative, which would align him with the Lib Dems, as opposed to the like-for-like replacement (or scraping altogether). His brother accused him of ‘having it both ways’ over Trident during the campaign.

“Throughout this leadership election I have been clear that I believe the right approach is to include the decision about the replacement of Trident in the strategic defence review.”

Scrapping Trident has acquired a totemic significance for left-wingers, both in the Labour party and the Liberal Democrats. Ed Miliband doesn’t favour ditching it outright, but he doesn’t want a like-for-like replacement either. He has been known to have been in favour of a cheaper alternative , but he hasn’t yet nailed his colours to the mast on whether Britain should build new submarines or a more economical land-based alternative.

Foreign Policy – Left

Ed Miliband differentiated his own position and that of his brother during the campaign by saying Labour got it wrong on Iraq. he was no an MP so did not vote on whether Britain should go to war but said weapons inspectors should have been given more time and the way in which Britain decided to go to war led to ‘a catastrophic loss of trust’ in Labour. On Afghanistan, he has supported the coalition government’s timetable.

Banking – Left

Miliband wants to increase the banking levy and has indicated support for a transaction tax. But the fact that the banking levy was introduced by the coalition government and the fact that it has threatened more taxes illustrates that taking money from bankers is no longer the preserve of the Left. Miliband has also said that rather than selling off its stakes in banks, the government should look at the possibility of creating mutuals/public-private partnerships.

“We should look not just at selling off our stake in the banks, but at creating new financial institutions: mutuals, public-private banks.”

The coalition government wants to sell off the Treasury’s bank shares – acquired during the banking crisis – at the earliest opportunity. Ed Miliband doesn’t say he wants to keep the shares in public ownership, but he’s clearly resistant to outright privatisation.

“The right balance of maintaining the bonus tax, increasing the banking levy and introducing a new financial transactions tax can help rebalance our economy away from a reliance on financial services and raise in excess of £5bn revenue.”

Ed Miliband wrote an article for the Guardian during the leadership campaign, headlined: “I’ll make capitalism work for the people”. Sounds red enough, but it’s not just the left indulging in banker-bashing any more.

Civil Liberties, law and order- Solidly centre left

Along with Diane Abbott, Ed Miliband stood out in the leadership election for admitting that the last government had grown too illiberal. He is not libertarian – strongly supporting CCTV for example. but – unlike the New Labour old guard – he understands that civil liberties matter ,pst at the bottom of the heap. He has indicated he would be reluctant to attack coalition efforts to curb the prison population, suggesting an important refinement of New Labour’s reflexive ‘tough on crime’ position.

Employment –

Wants to increase the availability of public sector jobs to solve unemployment.

Living Wage – Left

“People shouldn’t just be paid a minimum wage of £5.80 an hour. I want to move towards a living wage of more than £7 an hour. You would make a tax cut for business conditional on them paying a living wage.”

It’s a policy you would consider left-leaning – until you realise it’s one espoused by the Conservative London Mayor Boris Johnson. He’s already increased the Capital’s living wage to £7.60 last year.

Verdict – Middle left

Ed Miliband certainly wooed the left during his campaign – and reaped the rewards when the unions handed him the votes which counted. But he vowed to appeal to the “squeezed middle”. That’s nothing to do with supportive hosiery and everything to do with positioning himself on the centre ground.

Many of the new leader’s policies are still too unformed to know with any certainty exactly where on the political spectrum he’ll sit.

Edging away from Blairism and New Labour – in favour of abandonment of Blair/Brown policies and in favour of more leftist versions.

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