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18/07/2011

Renew Labour

Over a week ago on the Andrew Marr Show, the Labour Party leader, Ed Miliband, went on record saying:

"I'm absolutely a leader placing my party firmly in the centre ground but there's a new centre ground in our politics.

The new centre ground, for example, that means you speak out on these issues of press responsibility, a new centre ground that says that responsibility in the banking system - which we didn't talk about enough when we were in government - is relevant, a new centre ground that says people are worried about concentrations of private power in this country when it leads to abuses.

And that's the new centre ground."

Today he went further and said:

"A few weeks ago I talked about a set of values which are the essence of Britain’s character.

Working hard.

Obeying the law.

Caring for others.

Knowing the difference between right and wrong.

Responsibility.

These are the values which bind our nation together

I want my children to grow up in a country where those values are respected.

The hacking scandal has shown some of the awful consequences of the powerful shirking their responsibility.

And this is not the first example.

Indeed, in the space of just a few years, we have now seen three major crises in British public life among people and institutions that wield massive power.

First the banks.

Then MPs’ expenses.

And now in our press.

Superficially, each might look quite different in its causes.

But there are common themes running through all three.

The banker who paid himself millions of pounds for taking the most risky investments which would land his company and the country in the mire.

The MP who fiddled the expenses system, landing himself, his party and our politics in disgrace.

The editor of a newspaper which had a culture of illegality not for the public interest but simp ly in the search for sales, landing their paper and the whole industry in the dock.

All are about the irresponsibility of the powerful.

People who believed they were untouchable.

This issue of responsibility is one which must be tackled throughout British society.

From top to bottom.

The failure of our country to recognize and encourage responsibility isn't just bad for fairness or people's sense of right and wrong.

It's also holding Britain back in profound ways."

I don't think Ed Miliband has the charisma to win an election under the current media climate. I think it is likely he will follow in the footsteps of other 'thinkers' like John Smith and Iain Duncan Smith who helped renew their respective party's intellectual foundations following electoral defeats, to then make way for a 'communicator' who packages it for the public.

However, I do think he has reinvigorated the 'Libertarian Left' - a position that aims to keep a check on power rather than being seduced by it, a position that seeks a sustainable compassionate society. A similar position to the one that Tony Blair's New Labour movement initially inhabited before their ill-fated 'war on terror' and pursuit of record election wins at all costs, and one which the Liberal Democrats inhabited before becoming the subservient partner in the current coalition government.

I hope Ed Miliband can continue his good work.

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