Monday, July 11, 2011

Ed Miliband and the "New Centre"

Labour leader politely tells Tony Blair to stuff it

In an interview with the BBC, Labour leader Ed Miliband has dismissed concerns voiced by former Prime Minister Tony Blair that settling on the left will doom the Labour Party to a future of electoral defeat. Blair has urged the Labour Party to move closer to the political centre.

Miliband disagress on what the centre is.

"Tony Blair is entitled to his view, I've had conversations in private which have been good conversations with Tony Blair but let me just say this - it all depends on where you think the centre ground is," Miliband said. "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," Miliband declared. "And that's the new centre ground."

As with so many things, the Labour leader is flat-out wrong. He's wrong in his preoccupation with countering "private power". Abuse of public is the far-greater threat.

Certainly, private power can lead to abuses. But there are already mechanisms within society to handle these abuses: criminal law.

But there are entirely too few societal mechanisms equipped to deal with abuses of public power. The greatest threat of abuse of public power in Britain has always been the Labour Party.

For evdience of this, one needs look no further than the saga of the Militant Tendency, a group that managed to seize tremendous influence within the Labour Party in the 1970s and 80s. A hardline Marxist group, the Militant Tendency demanded the "nationalization of the commanding heights of the British economy". They even managed to ram a policy resolution through the 1972 Labour Party convention.

It wasn't until former Labour Leader Neil Kinnock recognized the threat the Militant Tendency posed to British civil society that they were expunged from the Labour Party. If not for Kinnock's wisdom, the threat may have never been dealt with.

Some doubt that the modern Labour Party possesses Kinnock's wisdom. Much more recently, Jim Fitzpatrick, MP for Poplar and Limehouse, and former Minister of the Environment, has warned that the Labour party has been infiltrated by radical Islamic groups that aim to re-establish Britain as a Muslim theocratic state governed by Shariah law.

Using state power -- also described as public power -- to force Britons to live under the tenets of Shariah law would be the ultimate abuse. Fitzpatrick seems to be convinced that the Labour Party isn't taking this threat seriously.

While Miliband may be more interested in milking the News of the World scandal for all he can get, and pretending that his party's experimentation with "tripartite" economic regulation, which routed Britain's ability to regulate the amount of debt assumed by British finanical instutitons, wasn't partially to blame for the economic meltdown, it's important to remember that it's the Labour Party's flirtations with tyranny that have been most destructive to the British polity.

Ed Miliband would prefer that Britons be concerned with what unethical journalists or reckless financiers are doing than what elements within his own party would do with the public power they so desperately covet. As long as they can describe themselves as "the left", Miliband may be truly blinded to their corrosive influence.

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