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The coalition take on Ed Miliband’s speech

3 October 2012

Talking to senior Liberal Democrats and Conservatives about Ed Miliband’s speech, it is striking how similar their analyses of it are. Despite coalition, we’re entering into a period of stark government, opposition dividing lines.

Pretty much everyone admits that Miliband has put to bed the question of his leadership of the Labour party and moved himself out of the IDS category. But they argue that he’s not dealt with Labour’s biggest weakness, the public’s belief that it spent and borrowed too much. One influential Liberal Democrat accused Miliband of ducking the generational challenge that is the deficit likening his speech to one in 1942 that didn’t mention there was a war on.


I expect that in Birmingham, David Cameron will echo Nick Clegg’s lines from Brighton about how the world has changed and Britain needs to become more competitive to survive but Labour is still stuck in the past. The two parties are agreed that this is their most potent attack on Labour.

One specific Tory critique is also worth noting. They believe that the ‘one nation’ tag help them as it addresses voters’ concern that they are a devil take the hindmost party. While, as by contrast, people don’t have this worry about Labour so ‘one nation’ does less for it as a label. Set against this, though, is that it does give Miliband a frame for what he is trying to do.

For all these criticisms, one thing is definitely true: Miliband is being treated as a more serious threat now than he was at the beginning of week.

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  • Fergus Pickering

    Come on, Speccie. What members of either front bench are NOT millionaires? Names please.

  • Tarka the Rotter

    You mean they bothered to analyse it? Jesus wept…it was a pile of horseshit and anyone taken in by it needs to see a shrink…

  • Hugh

    “it does give Miliband a frame for what he is trying to do.”

    And what is that, exactly – apart from get elected? “One Nation” plainly means nothing to Miliband other than a way of dodging the question of which side of the Labour party he’s going to eventually disappoint for a little longer.

    The most curious thing about Miliband’s speech (well, after the fact that talking an awful lot about the achievements and struggles of other people is held to be a triumph of self-definition) is that it seemed focused on bolstering public perception in the only area he is already ahead of Cameron: understanding the concerns of ordinary people. It’s hard to see what benefit it, of itself, would bring. However, the fact that the entire media has now committed itself to the fiction that Miliband has somehow transformed into a statesman is likely to flavour things. I’m reminded of the early days of Brown’s premiership when the likes of the Telegraph were gushing about his gravitas, stoicism and lack of showmanship. It took a fair while to admit that, like Miliband, he simply had no ideas.

    • Dimoto

      Yes, that and the famous “Nick Clegg media luv-in”.


    Here’s thought for Ed and Dave, if the state didn’t spend more than it took in taxes, then it wouldn’t need to resort to the services provided by people they clearly find odious.

  • Jebediah

    Come on Spectator, grow some. Unless we repair this country’s finances we are f**ked. Everything else comes a distant second. I didn’t notice the leader of the opposition give it much mention. Are they being especially nice to you at this conference? Is that why you’ve all become such doe eyed lick spittles?

    • Mathnawi

      Exactly why we need a government who invests to get the economy moving rather than goes in to more debt – YES, MORE THAN LABOUR LEFT THE COUNTRY WITH – to keep people idle. Tory ideas are myopically stupid. First and last visit to the Spectator forum. I had expected intelligent argument – but forgot about this study:

  • arnoldo87

    “But they argue that he’s not dealt with Labour’s biggest weakness, the public’s belief that it spent and borrowed too much.”
    Too true – the Labour explanation of the debt position bequeathed to the Coalition has been woeful, especially as it is quite easy to dismiss the most extravagant and misleading claims from Cameron & co..
    For the truth is that, until the Worldwide Financial Crisis hit the UK in 2008 (just like it hit every other country in the world) the debt position of the UK was nothing out of the ordinary.
    When Labour took office in 1997, the debt (expressed as a % of GDP) was 42.5%. Through until 2002, this figure was gradually brought down to 30%, helped by four consecutive years of budget surplus. When Labour decided to increase spending on Health and Education in 2003 the debt did rise slowly to reach 36% in 2007 (still significantly lower than in 1997). The rapid expansion in the debt % through until 2010 can be almost wholly attributed to the Crisis and its impact on revenues.
    Labour can justifiably be criticised on its failure to legislate against casino-type bankers but the Tories, if anything, were even more timid of applying this legislation.
    A failrly easy rebuttal then, but even now a lot of Labour frontbenchers fail to articulate it, which does make you wonder if they even understand the argument!

    • Jebediah

      What nonsense. At the height of a near record boom we were running a 4% deficit. Other more prudent countries were not. Your lunatic, moon benighted saviour drank his own no more boom or bust kool aid, and launched this economic disaster upon us. That you willfully deny this gross incompetence implies mindless zealotry.

      • BenM_Kent

        The economic disaster did not come from public spending.

        It came from the casino operations in the City Of London. A sector lauded to the heavens not only by the Labour government of the time, but the Tory opposition too.

        Countries like Spain ran budget surpluses up to the economic crash brought on in the private sector, Did them no good at all.

      • arnoldo87

        Calm down a bit and try to give us some facts to back up your argument. Such as:- What year are you talking about when we were running a 4% deficit? Labour were in surplus in1998/99/2000/2001. Also give us the actual figures to prove your case. Such as:- New Labour did not run a budget deficit as large as the Tories in1993 (-£50bn) or 1994 ( -£45bn) until the Crash of 2008
        More data and less hyperbole please.

        • pilsden

          Try the OBR chart 4,5 page 153 of the fiscal report march 2012
          all voters should be given this .I would also point out that the surplus period was the first period of Blair when the Ken Clarke expenditure plans were followed

          • arnoldo87

            “all voters should be given this”
            Maybe, pilsden, but why not start with us. Why the reluctance from you and Jeb to provide data to back up your case? There is no limit on space.

  • Jebediah

    What? Paragraphs of this article don’t even make sense.
    Try breathing the air outside of the bibble. You’re too far inside.

  • James Randall

    With the line about “writing cheques” I’d have thought there was a large open goal for David Cameron to aim at concerning the Labour view of taxation (your money is the state’s money) and the Conservative view (we’d like to take as little of your money away from you as possible).

  • HooksLaw

    Miliband plainly lied when he accused Cameron of benefiting from the 5p reduction in income tax to the tune of 40k. Cameron does not earn £1m a year. Indeed he does not earn much more as PM then Miliband does as LotO.

    Miliband and Labour are clearly as keen as ever in stamping on aspiration. Do nothing and milk money from those who have the nerve to do something is a well trodden Labour policy.

    • maurice12brady

      & of course you’re privy to the information of dividends earnings & offshore tax accumulations of a two multi-millionaire family (Dave & Sam) set-up —–!

      • BuBBleBus

        Well let’s take these millionaires outside and shoot them, how dare they not pay tax.

      • Chris lancashire

        Don’t forget the Milliband family – or maybe Geoffrey Robinson – or perhaps the Kinnocks – and Michael Meacher with his seven properties. Really silly stuff this who’s a millionaire crap.

      • HooksLaw

        Learn the difference between assets and income. Whats the value of the Miliband family assets?

        • maurice12brady

          remuneration from shares etc. is income

  • Irascible Old Git

    It just shows how out of touch these ConDem politicians are when you can quote a senior figure as saying that Miliband never mentioned the deficit. However he did, several times, re-emphasising the point that the deficit is going up, not down as promised by the current government.

    And your specific Tory critique, “They believe that the ‘one nation’ tag help them as it addresses voters’ concern that they are a devil take the hindmost party. While, as by contrast, people don’t have this worry about Labour so ‘one nation’ does less for it as a label” was patently, and grammatically, gibberish.

    As Miliband correctly stated, ‘What a shower!’

    • HooksLaw

      Just shows how ignorant you are (and Miliband if that is what he said). The deficit is going down. Its down 25% on where the coalition inherited it.
      Because we still have a deficit then of course the debt is going up still. Since you are plainly ignorant and do not know what you are talking about we can safely dismiss your opinions.

      Of course Labour have been saying that the coalition are cutting too quickly, so the fact that the debt is increasing should be no reason for criticism from you are them.

      • BenM_Kent

        The deficit is going up this year. Cumulatively it is up 22% on last year.

        That’s because George crashed the recovery.

        Note that the only reason the deficit had gone down (but was still lagging the original 2010 forecasts) was because capital spending had been slashed.

        Part of the reason we’re in a double dip recession.

        Tories don’t understand economics.

        • Jebediah

          They’re doing better than their Labour muppet predecessors who had us on the road to being one big Greece.

          • BenM_Kent

            No. They’re not.

        • FF42

          You are both right, I believe. Nominally the deficit is down, mainly due to the Government taking over the Royal Mail pension pot. But we will need to pay these pensions later on. Excluding this windfall the underlying trend is up.

    • Torontory

      I believe he never mentioned the word deficit, just saying debt a number of times. The fraudulent bit is conflating the 2 terms and to imply it wouldn’t have happened under Labour; their spending plans would have had higher annual deficits, as deficit reduction plans were slower, and hence debt would be greater.
      Shamefully, so much of the media seldom pick up Labour on their misuse of debt and deficit.

      • Dimoto

        A second-term Brown government (with Balls as chancellor), would have suffered an immediate financial crisis and bond strike. The only reason markets were patient was because everyone expected Brown ‘n Balls to be ejected.

    • ToryOAP

      You are an idiot.

      Milliband & Balls big lie number 1 the deficit is increasing when it is not. Until the deficit is completely eliminated then the debt will continue to rise until some point in the future when the current account is brought into positive territory. Labour/Brown were borrowing excessively from 2003 onwards when there was a budget surplus which is why we are in this mess.

      Milliband/Balls/Chukka big lie number 2 is conflating millionaire with earning a million pounds. These supposedly intelligent economists and business experts would have us believe that having assets of over a million will be rewarded with £40,000 cheques from Cameron. They also would have us believe that the 1% contributing 28% of the income tax take are not paying their fair share.

      As I said earlier, you are an idiot.

      • BenM_Kent

        The “1% paying 28% of income tax” is a wholly meaningless stat.

        In a fantastically unequal society you’d expect nothing else but the rich paying a high percentage of income tax in relation to everyone else.

        Tories – cheering North Korean levels of inequality.

        • dorothy wilson

          If you tried living in North Korea you would understand the daftness of your comment.

        • Hugh

          Left-wingers – convinced Hungary and Kazakhstan are paradise.

        • Nicholas

          North Korea is a perfect example of what happens when you let socialist have a free rein. Bad example for you Ben as the levels of equality would be here and now if Britain had had a socialist government since the 1950s.

        • ToryOAP

          The problem with sending your children to comprehensives is the lefty ones come out as idiots. Don’t worry, you are not alone.

      • dorothy wilson

        Surely the debt will continue to rise until the deficit is completely eliminated because of the accruing interest.

        • ToryOAP

          Er yes. That’s in part what I said.

  • Hugh

    “But they argue that he’s not dealt with Labour’s biggest weakness, the public’s belief that it spent and borrowed too much.”

    What, even after pointing out that his parents were immigrants and he had a strict head teacher? Unbelievable.

    There’s no pleasing some people.

    • Dimoto

      Balls’ greedy, beady eyes have spotted a possible “revenue stream” (cell phone licenses), and already he’s thinking up ways to spend it, and to hell with the deficit !
      That’s Labour in a nutshell, I hope Cameron points this out next week.

  • toco10

    MiliEd the millionaire whose family is rumoured to have indulged in perfectly legal inheritance tax planning can hardly claim to be an ordinary lad from a comprehensive school.Such a claim only goes to prove just how arrogant but naive he is-he represents as his mentor Gordon Brown did the very worst in the Labour Party’s duplicity.

    • EJ

      What’s truly depressing is how our metropolitan media luvvies are falling for this crap. It’s one thing to hear the Guardian banging on about how this hypocritical little millionaire twerp is our saviour – it’s quite another to hear the same line being implicitly parroted in the Spectator. As a UKIP voter I suppose anything that gets the smug Cameroons unsettled is a good thing, but let’s not forget the irreparable damage that thirteen years of traitorous, hateful New Labour did to our once-great country.

      • maurice12brady

        Hear! Hear!

      • Mathnawi

        He isn’t a millionaire. You are talking out your gideon.

      • Dimoto

        And since the “speech”, he has done nothing but talk contradictory gobbledegook to the media, but don’t worry, Fraser says he’s likable.

  • Bluesman

    Well, he can walk and talk at the same time, but can he also chew gum while doing it?

  • Bert

    I shuld have tought the Coalition are delighted to see such a paucity of ideas.
    Please Please Please put up the transcript from the Today interview this morning between Evan Davis and MiliEd.
    Had me in stitches MiliEd was so woeful.

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