Ed Miliband’s major speech this week represents a huge step back to Blairism for the British Labour Party. But is anyone surprised? Even Ed's own father, the late Ralph Miliband, said  that  Labour was incapable of articulating radical demands.

THIS WEEK ED Miliband , leader of the British Labour Party, gave the  Hugo Young lecture at The Guardian newspaper. But rather than being a rallying call to the British working class, his  6000 word address only served to underline that the British Labour Party is dead in the water as a progressive political force.

Rather than indicating that the Labour Party would finally break with neoliberalism, Miliband was eager  to emphasise  his party's commitment to 'the market' . Such is  Miliband's  enthusiasm  for neoliberalism is  that he actually  praised Margaret  Thatcher for her “sense of purpose” in driving through change, although  he omitted to make any mention of the devastation that 'change'  has wreaked on British society.

He outlined  a program  of pubic  service 'reform' which is largely about undermining an already under pressure public service.  Under Labour the public sector can look forward vast areas of public spending and decision-making 'outsourced' to business interests.  Miliband describes this as a 'partnership' with the private sector .

Laughably Miliband  asserts  “We should devolve power down not just to the user but also the local level” - but that does' t include  stopping hospital  and school closures , demands  for more money or simply trying to change spending priorities. And it certainly doesn't mean the end of the deliberate intimidation and harassment of beneficiaries. This is the 'devolution of power' in name only.

Under Miliband life for beneficiaries and the working poor will continue to deteriorate.

Miliband announced  that not only would the present austerity regime be enforced but that further spending cuts were in the pipeline under a Labour Government.

Said Miliband: “The next Labour government will face massive fiscal challenges, including having  to cut spending”.

Miliband's dismal speech  has only served to highlight that the decision to form Left Unity was the correct one.  An alternative to the Labour Party  is required to give voice to the concerns of ordinary British folk. They have  not only been abandoned by Miliband but can only look forward to the  grim prospect of being sacrificed again and again on the altar of capitalism.

Professor Ralph  Miliband, Ed's father, viewed socialism in much the same way as Marx - the complete democratisation of society. This included the complete democratisation of the economy. But in his book Parliamentary Socialism (1961) Miliband outlines how social democratic parties like the Labour Party  can never present a significant challenge to the established order and will, in fact, always function to dampen down rather than bolster any movement that threatens to bring capitalist power into question.

The last three decades have certainly confirmed Professor Miliband's argument but even he, I suspect, may of been shocked by just how completely Labour has capitulated to neoliberalism  and the demands of capitalism.

Such is the antipathy towards Labour  one commentator has written: '... when it comes to next year’s general election, an application of the “consumer choice” approach will invite us to hang on to our votes rather than wasting them on any of the mainstream parties. The argument that One Nation Labour will be better than the Tories is shallow and totally unconvincing.'

This something  we would do well to consider in New Zealand with David Cunliffe's Labour Party, propped up by the Green Party and the Mana Party, offering  nothing in the way of a credible  alternative to John Key's National-led government.


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