Miliband calls for social responsibility at the top and bottom


Ed Miliband will today commit Labour to tough action on those at the top and bottom who are not “showing responsibility” and “shirking their duty”.

In a speech this lunchtime, he will make clear his intention to change major planks of policy, on responsibility, high pay and welfare – committing Labour to acting to restore the link between high pay and what individuals are contributing to shareholders and the economy, through greater transparency and greater accountability.

Ed-Miliband-leadershipHe will say:

“For too many people at the last election, we were seen as the party that represented these two types of people. Those at the top and the bottom who were not showing responsibility and were shirking their duty to each other.

“From bankers who caused the global financial crisis to some of those on benefits who were abusing the system because they could work – but didn’t. Labour, a party founded by hard working people for hard working people, was seen by some – however unfairly – as the party of those ripping off our society.

“New Labour did a lot to change the fabric of the country. But it didn’t do enough to change the ethic of Britain. My party must change… We were intensely relaxed about what happened at the top. No more. We will be a party that supports the real boardroom accountability that rewards wealth creation not failure.

“It is said we cared too little about responsibility at the bottom of society. No more. We will be a party that rewards contribution, not worklessness.”

On that point, on welfare and responsibility at the bottom, he will add:

“So we need responsibility at the top of society, but we also need it at the bottom. Again, the principle should be one that rewards contribution. We are facing a challenge to the belief in our welfare state – founded on principles of solidarity and compassion, but now tarred with the brush of unfairness and irresponsibility. If we want to protect and improve the British welfare state, we must reform it so it genuinely embodies responsibility and contribution as much as need.

“One area where people’s sense of fairness is under threat is social housing. In Manchester, as well as helping the most vulnerable families and disabled people with housing, they prioritise households who are giving something back to their communities – making a contribution – for example, people who work for or run local voluntary organisations and those who are working.

“They also look to reward people who have been good tenants in the past and who have paid their rent on time and never been involved in any Anti Social Behaviour. The London Borough of Newham is looking at something similar – prioritising work when allocating social housing and for example helping first those who give something back by, say, fostering children in need

“In their words they are ‘finding ways to end the race to the bottom where improving your situation and finding work are punished by getting pushed down the waiting list for a quality home’; these approaches mean that rather than looking solely at need, priority is also given to those who contribute – who give something back. It’s fairer and it also encourages the kind of responsible behaviour which makes our communities stronger, makes them work.

“They are just examples, but they show the kind of change we need. We are looking at all these issues in our policy review, but this is a simple way of rewarding people who do the right thing and it’s something I’d like to see done right across the country.”

We will have further analysis of Mr Miliband’s speech and his pledges on high pay later.

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  • Selohesra

    It does not really matter what Ed says in these friendly speaches to the Labour faithfull – until he sets out in costed detail how he will tackle the deficit and other key issues he will just be seen as an opportunist and will not attract attention from the open minded voters who he needs to convince.

  • http://refusingthedefault.blogspot.com/ cim

    We will be a party that rewards contribution, not worklessness.

    People are already rewarded for work. It’s called “being paid” (and various other benefits offered by some employers such as pensions, staff discounts, etc.) Certainly, more can and should be done – a higher minimum wage, better employee rights, etc. – and certainly if there’s a problem with high marginal tax rates due to misdesigned benefit systems that needs fixing but that shouldn’t come at the exclusion of helping people who are not in work.

    Stay-at-home-parents? Not “in work”, but definitely doing something valuable (and also “work” in a broader sense). Can definitely be a full-time commitment.
    People with severe disabilities? Not “in work”, and not going to get any work no matter how much they want it because employers aren’t willing to make the effort, and don’t have the jobs to offer anyway.
    People who are unemployed because we have a stagnant economy barely keeping out of recession? Well, Labour is for the lucky person who did get a job, not for you. (In my constituency, a new shop opened creating 61 new jobs … and there were over 1,000 applicants. You can’t tell me that the people who got the jobs are more in need of help than the people who didn’t)

    It is said we cared too little about responsibility at the bottom of society.

    It wasn’t true, but we are proud to continue our policies of kicking people while they’re down in the hope of shaking off this mistaken impression?

    So much for the hopes that Miliband would move away from New Labour’s position.

  • http://masondixonautistic.blogspot.com Mason Dixon, Autistic

    Ed Milliband seems to be more worried about perception than reality: New Labour was more hostile to benefit claimants than any government that came before it. That’s why virtually every out-of-work benefit either froze or shrank. They pulled out the stops to deter and catch benefit fraud and much of the ‘anti-scrounger’ measures the Coalition are waving about are not new but were practised or initialised by Labour.

    He should start worrying more about the consequences of whipping Scrounger-Finder Generals into a frenzy. Politicians know this rhetoric carries heavy collateral damage; they are either incompetent or malevolent to keep doing it.

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  • 13eastie

    “Labour…was seen by some…as the party of those ripping off our society”

    And who was in charge, while this was going on?

    Step forward Red Ed’s “New” Generation:

    Miliband E
    Balls
    Cooper
    Hain
    Harman
    Jowell
    Woodward
    Benn
    Murphy
    Burnham
    Alexander
    Miliband D (honorary member)

  • Ed’s Talking Balls

    The Brownite faction still running Labour (into the ground) seems to be trying to run away from its past while not having really changed.

    The problem, almost insurmountable in the south of England, is that Labour is still seen as the party that let the bankers run riot while presiding over a gross benefits culture. For all his talk about a ‘squeezed middle’, Ed Miliband and his fellow sons of Brown don’t care a jot for them.

  • Anon E Mouse

    Mason Dixon, Autistic – What’s wrong with trying to deter benefit fraud?

    The money being defrauded doesn’t belong to politicians you know….

  • http://masondixonautistic.blogspot.com Mason Dixon, Autistic

    It’s been pointed out enough times before Mouse and I mentioned it in the very post you are responding to, if you couldn’t be arsed reading just as you couldn’t be arsed reading the DWP Pricing Proposal for the Work Programme I posted in the Welfare to Work thread, then what’s the point repeating it?

  • Anon E Mouse

    Mason Dixon, Autistic – I thought the topic here was about Ed Miliband?

    What’s wrong with trying to deter benefit fraud? The money being defrauded doesn’t belong to politicians you know….

  • Leon Wolfson

    “Anon” – Because the sums are small on a relative basis, and static as a percentage of the bill. People who should be reciving benefits are routinely deprived them because of inflexible rules and errors not of their making.

    The system in the UK kicks you, hard, for temporary worklessness. I’d hoped that Labour were moving away from that, but no, and this has massive negative effects. This directly reflects on mobility of the workforce: look at the Nordic countries, where people are able to move between jobs easily, and don’t need to fear short periods of unemployment.

    That also means employers can feel free to get rid of underperforming staff. Which is also beneficial. But…with the current UK system, I’m going to protest making it easier *because* the system kicks you so hard (and will kick even harder in the years to come)

  • http://masondixonautistic.blogspot.com Mason Dixon, Autistic

    If I went over it yet again Mouse, you’d just pretend I said something else.

  • Anon E Mouse

    Leon Wolfson – I agree that in the grand scheme of things it is indeed small beer. I also agree that the rules have an element of inflexibility and that the Nordic countries have a completely different ethos where benefits are concerned.

    But I have to say I agree with Miliband on his wishes to prevent Labour being seen as the party of the work shy and feckless. Despite Labour supporters wishes, the facts Miliband discussed regarding the party being seen as supporting the bankers and big business and at the other end of the scales he’s right.

    The grief I’ve had for stating that truth on this site you wouldn’t believe!

    Despite the rhetoric about “British Jobs For British Workers” from Brown this government is repeating almost the same thing. I don’t know if it will work or not but something has to be tried.

    That doesn’t mean that you should be kicked by the system but also fraud shouldn’t be tolerated either any more than companies should have to tolerate under performing staff.

    What Miliband seems to have finally realised is that Blair was Labour’s most successful Prime minister because he appealed to Mondeo Man / Worcester Woman – whatever and with the party having virtually no seats electorally between London and the North of the country his choices are limited – he has to do something.

    Personally if he is leader at the next election then the party is doomed irrespective of all these changes he proposes. For once he seems to be being a realist.

    Regarding your situation I genuinely hope you are in work and don’t face the situation you describe because I do agree things are only going to get worse I think…

  • Anon E Mouse

    Mason Dixon, Autistic – You are on the wrong thread on this site…

  • http://refusingthedefault.blogspot.com/ cim

    That doesn’t mean that you should be kicked by the system but also fraud shouldn’t be tolerated either any more than companies should have to tolerate under performing staff.

    Except that at the moment the attitude seems to be “better ten people who should get benefits don’t than one person who shouldn’t does”. To take your corporate analogy, it’s like a manager saying “Bob in Marketing isn’t pulling his weight. I should make the entire Marketing department redundant so he stops.”

    The response is not proportionate to the size of the problem. Claiming that it needs to be even more disproportionate to recover electoral confidence suggests that something has gone seriously wrong somewhere.

  • http://masondixonautistic.blogspot.com Mason Dixon, Autistic

    You’re a liar in every thread Mouse, so I’m not.

  • http://masondixonautistic.blogspot.com Mason Dixon, Autistic

    Off-topic but for anyone interested in Mouse’s almost comical performance, the thread is this: http://www.leftfootforward.org/2011/06/welfare-reform-welfare-to-work-companies-atos-g4s-serco/comment-page-1/#comment-115173

  • Leon Wolfson

    “Anon” – I’m in work on a seasonal basis, more or less. I’m a university VL, which means 8 months of the year, plus short-term research work (It’s literally week-to-week during the summer if I’m working or not).

    The current measures to fight fraud are quite effective. There doesn’t need to be this hate parade. While you always need a base level of discouragement, additional resources should be deployed where they will create the greatest financial effect, especially at the moment. That currently means putting more auditors on tax issues, NOT benefit ones.

    And I totally disagree on the concept that only by moving right can Milliband capture votes – he’ll lost the core left vote that way: we won’t have anyone to vote for, and you’ll see a sharp drop in voting participation (and considerably increased militancy).

  • Selohesra

    Leon – will he really lose the core left vote? – who are they going to vote for instead. Its like Dave does not need to appeal to the true Tories – both realise they need to scrap over the waverers in the middle. I really dont think there is all that much difference between Ed & Dave C and get very annoyed with them trying to pretend there are fundemental differences between them.

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  • http://soapboxlabouruk.wordpress.com SoapboxL

    Labour supporter and Ed fan but I personally feel Ed got it wrong from top to bottom today.

    He was wrong to highlight individual case. He should not be making personal criticisms.

    I felt the speech was transparent and therefore lacked depth and meaning given it was simply designed with rhetoric to pander to people on one of the most talked about subjects in the media at this time, jumping onto the ‘undeserving poor’ bandwagon – because his polling is low.

    And I don’t get it. Who was he appealing to? Those who vote Tory wont come to Labour based on a ‘get tough on benefits’ speech. And those who have left Labour wont come back based on a ‘get tough on benefits’ speech.

    And what were the solutions to getting tough? A couple of suggestions on jumping the housing queue and helping young people on a Friday night! I don’t think Ed was even convinced these ideas would solve the problem of what is a far more complex situation… so how can the public? It was all a bit, well, wishy-washy, empty rhetoric because he felt he had to say something.. anything.

    The reality is there will always be some people on benefits who could work. Governments will never be able to solve the problem completely. I’d like to see politicians being honest about it rather than coming out with the same old rhetoric

    Rather than finding his voice, I feel Ed today has tried to look tough on the latest trending story.

  • Leon Wolfson

    Selohesra – Who will they vote for? If nobody will carry their torch, nobody. Because they won’t vote, with a few exceptions, for the libdems again, and if labour move themselves right…

    Well, the greens will look good to many of them. (Not for me, since I fundamentally differ on energy and foreign policy, but they /are/ suitably left-wing…)

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