Sunday, 26 September 2010
Ed Miliband Elected Leader of the Labour Party
So, Ed Miliband just managed to edge past his brother David and win the contest to become the leader of the Labour party.
The media are already focussing on the fact that it was the votes of trade union members that finally proved crucial in Ed getting over the 50% line, in the complicated electoral college voting system used for electing Labour leaders. The Sun newspaper, Murdoch owned, has been running stories during the election referring to ‘Red Ed’ and I think we can expect more of this from the right wing press, which amounts to most of the UK papers. Ed Miliband, despite being raised in a communist household, is probably not even a socialist, but we can confidently expect this kind of line from the forces of reaction in the coming years.
My feeling is, that Labour party members (and affiliates) wanted to draw a line under the new Labour period, and with David Miliband being seen as the continuity candidate, firmed up by support from the likes of Tony Blair and Peter Mandleson, suffered from this desire for change. Ed, on the other hand, skilfully positioned himself in the role of change candidate, talking a more social democratic language than we have had from a leading figure in the Labour party since John Smith died.
Of course, candidates often talk to the left in progressive party elections, only to swing rightwards once elected, so we will have to wait and see how Ed Miliband positions himself on a variety of policy issues, not least the question of budget reduction. I expect him to follow a pretty soft left pathway, but even so, this is still preferable to the Blair/Brown years of relentless right wing policy initiatives. Incidentally, Caroline Lucas since becoming Green party leader, has to her credit, remained true to her principles, to the extent that some say, she has moved further to the left.
And what does this all mean for the Green party and wider politics in Britain? Well, I argued in a previous post, that I thought a David Miliband victory would be in the best interests of the Green party electorally, as he represented the new Labour brand. It could be, that Ed Miliband will garner votes from people who have in recent times voted Green in protest at the worst excesses of new Labour. But in terms of potential cooperation between the Labour and Green parties it certainly has possibilities. We may be in for a period where coalition government at national and local level is more of a reality, and I for one would be happier cooperating with an Ed Miliband led Labour party, than what Labour became over the last two decades.