So Tim Montgomerie thinks ‘Miliband is a far worse leader than Kinnock’ The Times 2/01/14
Well Tim, this might be wishful thinking maybe? Whilst I agree that Kinnock deserves credit for beginning the process of reform within the Labour Party in the early 1980s, Kinnock was derided for being lightweight on policy, out of step with public opinion and remembered only perhaps harshly for his Sheffield rally speech and missing the open goal presented to him on the Westland affair.
Miliband is a much more capable politician than Kinnock and far more effective than many Conservatives would like to believe. It is common place among Conservatives and some sections of the media to hone in on Miliband’s perceived geeky looks and nasal tones but merely trying to convince the public Miliband does not look or sound like a Prime Minister will not hide the fact that he’s more of a threat to an outright Conservative majority at the next election than would be admitted in Conservative HQ.
Miliband for sure needs to follow through on his commitment to begin breaking the financial link between the Labour Party and the Unions and only time will tell if he can deliver, but in these times of austerity do the British public really care about that? I am not sure. What I am sure they care about is what is happening to their standard of living. It is in this area of policy that Miliband shapes and leads the debate; similarly, Miliband was just as effective on press regulation, taking on the energy companies and forcing a re-think on military intervention in Syria, sharp political leadership that left the Conservatives floundering.
There is no doubt Labour remain weak in a number of policy areas that they will have to address before the next election if Miliband is to be given the keys to Downing Street. Europe, immigration and deficit reduction to name just three key areas Labour will be rightly scrutinised and judged on.
On the cost of living, however, Miliband is in tune with the British people on a scale only Neil Kinnock could have dreamed of and this is the policy area that matters most to the British people right now and is likely to factor prominently in 2015.
Tim Montgomerie is right on the deficit, credible reduction plans need to be in place and uncontrolled public spending must be a thing of the past and this will be Miliband’s biggest challenge. But what about the coalition? Here in the North of England, people who I speak to do not think that the coalition should be clearing the deficit by reducing welfare and social services for the disabled and the genuine in need, nor do they think the ‘Bedroom Tax’ is fair and the right approach. On this they agree with Miliband and see elements of the ‘nasty party’ returning with aspects of the coalition’s policies.
Instead, they want to see the deficit reduced by a substantial cut in overseas aid. They want to see those responsible for almost bankrupting the country pay the price for their failure, namely the bankers and the civil servants responsible for the scandal of defence procurement in recent years, none of whom have been surcharged or sent to prison for their actions.
An end to legal aid for terror suspects and foreign criminals, large corporations paying their rightful share of tax and an end to importing millions of unskilled migrants and immigrants that put so much pressure on our local schools, health services, housing and our welfare system would also be on the northern shopping list of policy priorities for deficit reduction.
So is Miliband a far better leader than Kinnock? Oh yes, by a long way. If he makes changes to anyone unpopular with the public on his front bench, brings forward innovative and credible policies on deficit reduction, Europe and immigration in the Labour manifesto for 2015 then the Conservatives will have a lot more to worry about than the UK Independence Party at the next General Election.