27 Sep 2011

Is Ed Miliband moving to the centre?

Joking about his nose op on a deviated septum, Ed Miliband says “typical Labour leader – he gets elected and everything moves to the centre.”

Well, not from where I’m sitting.

The aspiration for socialised capitalism in one country is bold and would make many left wing hearts beat quicker. You suspect that’s what happened in the Sunday afternoon intellectual brainstorms at Ed M’s North London home with academics and his team.

Ed Miliband would pull levers of government to correct and incentivise better behaviour by capitalism. The speech makes clear he’s thinking of the tax system, regulation, the honours system (Fred Goodwin shouldn’t have had his knighthood – will he strip him of it?).

But quite how you use those levers isn’t clear. There are some precedents in hitting intensive carbon use, tax incentives for research and development and the film industry. But those are whole sectors, easily categorised. Categorising the economy’s goodies and baddies is a little trickier. Who judges? What do the judges themselves think of the judging?

Follow the Channel 4 News live blog on the Labour conference

Announcing an aspiration without a clear policy gives a sense of purpose to the Ed M regime and some heart to the party. It could even be that Ed M has spotted an embryonic national mood of anger with the bankers and is riding the wave early. It could be that his tempered capitalism ideas amount to little when the intellectual seminar passes its handiwork on to the policy crunchers.

Below: over the Mersey, Port Sunlight – a kinder gentler capitalism at work

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