The major party political conferences are always interesting. Why do they all go? Is it to have smoke blown up their nether regions by their leaders, to reaffirm that they are not alone in their beliefs or perhaps to take the chance to boogie the night away with the likes of Ed Balls, Keith Vaz, Caroline Flint or Yvette Cooper.
This week is Labour in Liverpool (is this an example of an oxymoron?) , detached from reality in more ways than one. Yesterday featured the Ed Miliband speech, the keynote address , all the usual sound bites and bluster. It added incisive new phrases to the language such as “Closed Circles” and “New Bargain” , that’s New Bargain if you didn’t hear him the previous seven times.
No policies though, just airy-fairy , unworkable ideas that could never be implemented: different tax rates for good and bad businesses, council house priority for those who put something into society rather than those who don’t. Who will implement these? Potentially it could be a solution to unemployment levels with a couple of hundred thousand political commissars in every town and city watching what you or your company do before holding a review meeting deciding who gets the tax break or council house. What next? Collective farms?
On Energy, he attacked the Big Six claiming it’s a rigged market. It is of course , he’s right, but what did 13 years of Labour do about it when they were in power? The energy companies were putting up prices of energy in double digit numbers throughout Labour’s administration. Interestingly , I saw an interview at the conference last night conducted in front of a exhibition stand for Eon Energy. Lets attack the big six , but only after they have helped subsidise our conference!
On banking and other predatory businesses, let’s consider who failed to regulate the banks, who were happy to grow an economy on the back of the service economy and the explosive growth in the financial services sector, whose lack of regulation allowed Northern Rock to masquerade as a building society while trying to be a big player in the banking vegas , who knighted the now demonised Fred Goodwin in 2004 ( for services to banking , not charity as Harriet Harman once tried to claim )
Let us also remember whose Old Bargain allowed a growth in the welfare state to record levels even in times of unrivalled prosperity , because it suited the political agenda to hide unemployment levels in other areas such as allowances for people seeking jobs and invalidity benefit claimants. A legacy that gave another generation an education in how to have something for nothing.
The speech closed with the obligatory standing ovation but the party faithful really did not look that convinced, Miliband passed through the audience while the PA blasted out “You got the love” by The Source (I doubt that) This speech will soon be forgotten, as I suspect Miliband will be, in the not too distant future.