It looks like the programmers at Labour HQ have finally hit upon a correct script for their robotic leader Milliband after three years of trying. And whilst this metaphorical computer script was prompted by some dire polling results released hours before his speech began, the literal script of the speech itself was delivered prompt less, with no notes. Milliband looked, spoke, and acted normal. Of course, other than those emerging from a long coma these feats would not be considered victories but mere everyday occurrences, but for our probable next Prime Minister, a victory today was had for sure. Such was how low the bar was set for him (languishing somewhere near the Liberal Democrat’s polling position). He should sleep very easily tonight indeed. And judging by how well his nasal operation must have been based on how he sounded yesterday, his snore less slumber should allow his wife to, as well.
And the policies themselves, from a purely political perspective and based on the coverage of them, were a success. If you combine these two facts, then one can understand the sudden sense of optimism sweeping Labour supporters up and down this land. And here they are.
He bewailed the privatization of the Royal Mail. Labour first began this process back in 2007. More importantly, it comes as a result of the “The European Postal Services Directive” through Britain’s membership of the EU. A membership of course that Milliband strongly supports and the reason why Milliband’s anti-immigration rhetoric (next paragraph) were lies.
If, for instance, you happen to live on the Shetland Islands, Royal Mail’s delivery will likely be reduced as a result of this ‘bad policy’. Milliband’s bad policies, on the other hand, did not affect his delivery one bit, being well received by all in attendance.
Milliband also attacked companies that cut wages and hired foreign labour, decrying the alleged ‘race to the bottom’. Nobody likes their wages being cut. Fewer but still a lot of people actually like a politician more for essentially saying ‘high wages good, low wages bad’. And as for immigration, Milliband was a member of the previous Labour Government which begun the process of mass migration. He has outlined no practical policies for cutting immigration, unlike the Conservatives, and will not due to his liberal cosmopolitan sensibilities. He continues to support our membership of the EU, meaning national control over immigration from countries which account for just under half our total intake of migrants is taken out of our hands. He failed to address the issue of the state of open borders Britain will have soon with Bulgaria and Romania.
This was Pure political posturing from an opportunistic politician.
Balls has said he would increase the bank levy by an extra £800 million and use the money to increase the amount of free childcare the government provides families from 15 hours a week to 25 hours. I dislike bank levy’s but as far as government spending goes, making it easier for people to have kids seems to me to be a good policy. And the cherry on this cake is that it goes only to working families (either both parents working or only one in a single-parent household). This gives to those who deserve it most and makes it easier for this group of people, the ‘strivers’, to have more kids. These kids are brought up in a better environment, an environment were working is normal, which should lead to a better work ethic amongst them. Ethically, I’ve always considered it unfair that a large group of people in this country work all the hours and pay so much in tax, and never get to have children of their own because of how financially crippling it is for them, whilst others who do not work get to have five or six children and have everything given to them by the state (and by state, I mean the taxes from the previous group of people).
Labour also pledged to build 200,000 new homes every year by 2020. I’m always sceptical of building more homes on our already congested island, but when you read the means by which they plan on doing this, you might agree even more. This is them in order with the most sensible first: rounding up the voteless homeless and conscripting them into building new houses to teach them the joys of homeownership and encourage them to live the dream; giving more power to local councils; forcibly confiscating privately held land from developers if they are not using it; and building new towns (well not the first one, so located as to highlight the silliness with which I do not really but for rhetorical purposes am pretending to hold the rest of these policies).
Balls questions High Speed 2, having remarked there are better ways of spending £50 billion, shortly before salivating all over the conference hall in anticipation of what these likely are. He said there will be no blank cheque. Then, the Shadow Transport Minister said that Labour actually does support HS2. Perhaps both are correct and so no doubt in typical Labour fashion, they will support HS2 and with the sound logic that there are even better ways to spend £50 billion (this week’s estimation of how much HS2 costs), will discover new ways to piss even more of our money away.
However, the biggest policy announcement was Milliband’s pledge to prevent any price rises in gas and electricity bills by utility companies for twenty months (similar to the one California implemented leading to blackouts in 2001). Milliband argues such prices are too high. And of course, they are, with gas and electricity bills having risen by 85 percent since 2000. However, this is largely accounted for on the one hand by the rising price of energy at the global level. On the other, at the national and European level generally, it is Labour’s very own policies which account for why these prices have risen and will continue to do so for many years to come.
Households directly subsidize renewables through higher prices via the “renewable obligation”. This adds £20 to the average annual bill, from the government’s own figures in 2011. In 2020 this is projected to rise to £82. If we also add the costs, for example, of mothballing obsolete power plants to cover future gaps in coverage because of the highly temperamental nature of renewables, this would be higher.
Labour estimates this will cost the energy companies £4.5 billion. This when energy companies have failed to invest enough in the energy infrastructure for decades. Even before this announcement, there have been scares that in a few short years, Britain’s energy grid will be dangerously close to full capacity. And so we have calls from industry leaders about how this could lead to the lights being turned off. Clearly, they have their own interests which are not necessarily the same as the public’s, but there is truth to their claims, shouted down by many as ‘scare stories’. Scare stories they may be, but just because Britain is a first-world country doesn’t mean we have a god given right to gas and uninterrupted Eastender omnibuses.
If Milliband wins the next election gas and electricity prices will be frozen until 2017. And in doing so he increases the chances that so too will countless helpless Britons during winter. His speech today was presented well, increasing his chances of clinching the top job. And so thankfully for the Milliband family his capacity to generate hot air has been demonstrated to at the very least be sufficient to keep a family of four warm throughout a particularly cold snap.