Miliband: “Our ambition is to be more than a party; Labour must be a cause”

Ed Miliband will challenge his party to look outward not inward, become a "genuine movement" and be more open to the public in a speech to Labour activists today.

Ed Miliband will challenge his party to look outward not inward, become a “genuine movement” and be more open to the public in a speech to Labour activists in Wrexham today. Building on the momentum gained from his speech on responsibility last week, improved PMQs performances and the abolition of shadow cabinet elections, he will further outline his determination to win the next election by listening as well as leading.


Mr Miliband will tell the Labour Party National Policy Forum this lunchtime:

“In the 1980s, people in our party argued that for too long, we had been centralised, top-down and dominated by the leadership. They argued for giving more powers to members. Some of it was right, some of it was wrong. But one crucial element was missing: the connection between members and the public. We became better at empowering our members, but disconnected from the public. Three painful election defeats followed.

“New Labour re-connected us with the hopes and aspirations of the people. We won three elections. But too often we shut the door on the party and ignored what our members were saying. At times it felt like the role of the leadership was to protect the public from the party.

“We went from six people making decisions in a smoke-filled committee room to six people making the decisions from a sofa in Whitehall. Sometimes less than six.

“But the party was trying to tell us what the people wanted us to know. They were telling us about immigration, about housing benefits and about the 10p tax. We didn’t listen. And we lost the last election. Old Labour forgot about the public. New Labour forgot about the party. And, by the time left office, we had lost touch with both.

“I will lead a party which is more open to the public. And my leadership will be more open and in touch with the party.”

And looking ahead to the next election, he will say:

“Labour cannot hope that power will come automatically or that all we need is one more heave or that the pendulum will swing back in our favour. We can only win if we change. Our political culture must become less inward-looking and our decision-making more open. The party I intend to build together with you will be one that faces outwards to the people it serves and works together in pursuit of its common goals.

“I want us to be an alternative government… I am determined we win the next election. I am determined we are a one-term opposition.

“But I know this also: we cannot change this society in the ways we want to unless we become a genuine movement. A movement that starts with party members. That reaches out to our supporters in country. That goes beyond them to new recruits. Millions of people that argue our case up and down this country. We cannot do that either with central control from the top. Or a party that looks inward to itself.

“Lets be clear what our ambition is: To be more than a party. Labour must be a cause. We must be a movement. Because then, together, we can face up the big challenges facing Britain in the future and build the country the people deserve.”

In an interview with this morning’s Guardian, meanwhile, the Labour leader sets out his reform agenda, vowing to reform the party to connect with the public; modernise Labour’s relations with the unions – asking them to “open up”; reinvigorate party conference – including allowing NGOs like Greenpeace to address conference; getting local parties to draw up registers of local supporters; are requiring all PPCs and councillors to sign a code of conduct.

He tells the paper:

 “I want to open up the leadership to the party and the party to the country. In a society that is changing so fast in so many ways, we cannot continue as we are, with essentially a closed structure that was formed a century ago… I have a clear sense of where the country needs to go and what needs to happen to the party…

“I want to be a one-term opposition, and there is no way I want shadow cabinet members looking over their shoulder and thinking about anything other than winning the next election.”

On the question of the impending wave of strikes over pensions, he adds:

“The most important thing for the unions is to get the public to understand what their argument is. I don’t think the argument has yet been got across on public sector pensions as to some of the injustices contained on what the government is doing.

“Personally I don’t think actually strike action is going to help win that argument and I think it inconveniences the public. I think strikes must always be the very last resort.”

And of the Bono tax dodging controversy, and the gap in wages between the rich and the rest, he says:

“All pop stars should pay their fair share of tax, but I do not know the details… In the last decade we have seen chief executive pay go from 69 times the average to 147 times the average.

“We need a debate whether these levels of pay awards are linked to achievement because in some cases they are not.”

22 Responses to “Miliband: “Our ambition is to be more than a party; Labour must be a cause””

  1. Lisa Ansell

    . @Ed_Miliband: "Our ambition is to be more than a party; Labour must be a cause": http://bit.ly/kNNoYd reports @ShamikDas

  2. Knut Cayce

    . @Ed_Miliband: "Our ambition is to be more than a party; Labour must be a cause": http://bit.ly/kNNoYd reports @ShamikDas

  3. Claire Spencer

    "Old Lab forgot about the public. New Lab forgot about the party…by the time left office, we had lost touch with both." http://s.coop/22kh

  4. june hilton

    . @Ed_Miliband: "Our ambition is to be more than a party; Labour must be a cause": http://bit.ly/kNNoYd reports @ShamikDas

  5. surrinder bains

    "Old Lab forgot about the public. New Lab forgot about the party…by the time left office, we had lost touch with both." http://s.coop/22kh

  6. Vernon Coaker MP

    . @Ed_Miliband: "Our ambition is to be more than a party; Labour must be a cause": http://bit.ly/kNNoYd reports @ShamikDas

  7. Newbury Labour

    . @Ed_Miliband: "Our ambition is to be more than a party; Labour must be a cause": http://bit.ly/kNNoYd reports @ShamikDas

  8. Robert

    Lets see when I asked my MP about class, I asked if we now have a middle class thats squeezed, what happens to the lower working class, she actually said they are middle class, we do not have a lower class or working class.

    If thats right and labour like to think it is then what is it middle of, if you have nothing below the middle the middle becomes the lower class it drops down.

    She said that’s rubbish, but see when I went to school if you had a middle it means you have something below the middle and something about the middle hence it’s in the middle. But according to Labour we do not have a working class anymore.

    I was told the people who work in Retail like Asda, Tesco are now the middle class, people who work in banks are middle class, people who work for the council are middle class. The same question then who is below the middle class we have to have somebody, she walked away saying that I simple did not under stand politics.

    I’m disabled and I’m also becoming elderly, this is now your lower class it’s a class in which both Labour and the Tories are looking to forget to pass over unwanted.

    But we have a high number of disabled people they are not 2.4 million, we have eight million disabled people of working age, born disabled who have never worked labour believes they can put that number back to work, then you have 2.4 million who have worked and become disabled, one of the lowest numbers in the EU. and then you have the so called Grey vote which scared the shit out of Labour, these are the people who will decide it labour comes back into power, not the swing voter of the Tories the one’s labour are so desperate to love.

  9. Guy

    Miliband: “Our ambition is to be more than a party; Labour must be a cause” http://bit.ly/jr99MH

  10. Hitchin England

    RT @leftfootfwd: . @Ed_Miliband: "Our ambition is to be more than a party; Labour must be a cause": http://bit.ly/kNNoYd reports @ShamikDas

  11. RCT UNISON

    . @Ed_Miliband: "Our ambition is to be more than a party; Labour must be a cause": http://bit.ly/kNNoYd reports @ShamikDas

  12. Pubteam

    RT @RCTUNISON: . @Ed_Miliband: "Our ambition is to be more than a party; Labour must be a cause": http://bit.ly/kNNoYd

    NO STRATEGY THEN?

  13. Say NO to the Bill!

    . @Ed_Miliband: "Our ambition is to be more than a party; Labour must be a cause": http://bit.ly/kNNoYd reports @ShamikDas

  14. Ed's Talking Balls

    I don’t buy into this rejuvenation stuff Shamik. If Miliband really is doing as well as you say/is recovering as rapidly as I’ve been reading, then surely he wouldn’t be tanking in the polls. Besides, I’m always cautious of being told that someone has momentum: it just feels like an exercise in spin.

    I’ll give him his due, the speech on responsibility contained much truth and his performances at PMQs have taken the wind out of Cameron’s sails. However, I don’t think he can, in the long-term, keep picking at the minutiae of highly emotive issues and criticising the leader of the country for not knowing all the detail. It’ll look opportunistic and, in any case, no-one can know everything about everything so he might edge Cameron on points now and then but won’t score a knockout.

    In this latest speech, he’s absolutely right to criticise Labour on immigration, the 10p tax and housing benefits. The problem is that he’s not remotely believable.

    He was a key part of the government which made those decisions, for a start. Secondly, like all politicians, he talks a good game on immigration but probably harbours similar views to Gordon Brown in private (i.e. that anyone who questions unfettered immigration is a card-carrying BNP member). And lastly, actions will speak louder than words on housing benefits.

  15. Ex Labour Voter now UKIP

    Here’s one of the reasons why Labour is facing a decade in opposition, which is some achievement when you consider what a lousy and empty Prime Minister Cameron is.

    “ED MILIBAND RULES OUT REFERENDUM ON EU”

    http://www.express.co.uk/posts/view/253507/Ed-Miliband-rules-out-referendum-on-EU

    “ED Miliband showed his true colours yesterday after ruling out holding a ­referendum on Britain’s European Union membership.

    In a move that alienates millions of voters, the Labour leader said a ­nationwide vote on membership was not needed despite confessing that it ­“provokes strong feelings”.

    And he wrongly claimed the British people had voted on the issue before – suggesting that a referendum on the EU had taken place in 1975 even though it didn’t exist then…”

  16. Leon Wolfson

    Moving out of the EU, and letting Germany slap a massive import tax on us, would be economic suicide. Even the Tories realise that.

    Ed – Yes, keep arguing for the current Tory immigration system, which is excluding people who can (and DID) get an O1 (“superstar”) US visa.

  17. Ed's Talking Balls

    Leon,

    Whatever makes you think I am arguing for the current Tory immigration system? I certainly haven’t said so here, nor anywhere else for that matter, since I don’t support current policy.

    What I did say, however, is that Labour can’t be trusted on immigration. Thirteen years in government proved that beyond all doubt.

  18. Leon Wolfson

    If you’ve got an alternative, or back someone else’s plan, let’s hear it. Otherwise, yes, I am typically going to assume that you’re backing the plans of the incumbants.

    (And yes, I’m pissed off because said O1-recipient comming here would have given me a deacent job)

  19. mr. Sensible

    ‘Ex Labour Voter now UKIP’, if Europe was such an issue I would be expecting UKIP to be doing better than they are…

  20. Aaaaargh!

    Unfortunately Ed’s words offer only generalisations that attempt to please as many people as possible.

    It’s easy to criticise a Government when you are in opposition – what I want to hear from Ed are some policies.

  21. Where next for Ed's speeches? | Left Foot Forward

    […] Miliband’s speech on Saturday was designed to secure his control over the party and widen Labour’s appeal. Here is how the […]

  22. Policy in the pub: The future of UK skills | Left Foot Forward

    […] Miliband: “Our ambition is to be more than a party; Labour must be a cause” – Shamik Das, June 25th […]

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