Predistribution: a new economy or an exercise in utter bunkum

As it is possible that Labour could win an outright victory in the May 2015 General Election (or via a coalition with the Liberal Democrats) the speech given by Ed Miliband on 6 September 2012 warrants close examination. He was speaking at an event organised by Policy Network, an international Think Tank that reports from across the world of centre-left politics.

Overall it is a repetitious monologue of aspirational mantras. He does give away how Labour will fight the coming by-elections in Cardiff South and Penarth (date to be announced), Corby (15 November 2012) and Manchester Central (15 November 2012):

The Government is no longer able to say “we’re all in it together” after the budget for millionaires, the failure of Lords reform and boundary changes and a reshuffle which changed nothing but faces

but he began to warm to his subject when he said

Someone in New Labour said if you want to understand aspiration you need to understand conservatories but (I say) a one-year holiday from the current rules on planning for a conservatory extension of up to eight metres into a garden does not represent an economic plan

Eventually Mr. Miliband reached his theme: a Five Point Plan for growth and jobs –

1. Bring forward long- term investment projects

2. Tax bankers’ bonuses

3. Build tens of thousands of new homes

4 Offer young people a Real Jobs Guarantee

5 Not simply fiddle with the social obligations of developers (this is what he said: I have no idea what it means).

BUT he then said

The last Labour Government challenged this (referring to old economics) by recognising that we needed redistribution to share the proceeds of growth

BUT he continued

There are 2.3 million children growing up in poverty

Inequality scars our country

We need to care about predistribution as well as redistribution.

So what is predistribution?

Mr. Miliband suggests that we should think about someone working in a supermarket. Predistribution offers them more – higher skills, higher wages and an economy that works for old people. He then got completely carried away:

Centre-left governments of the future will have to also make work pay better by making work itself pay

This is the key moment in the speech and I have not the foggiest what it means. Mr. Miliband later suggested that it is about changing the relationship between finance and the real economy (he wants to promote a British Investment Bank), tackling short-termism, achieving proper competition, creating a proper relationship between the private sector and Government (where all Governments must work together), introducing a skills system, a welfare state that encourages people to work, and creating companies that reflect the values of our society.

FINALLY Mr. Miliband said that

A responsible capitalism is a resilient capitalism

Mr. Miliband is saying that the old economy is dead and we need innovation and radical new thinking.

He has a little over two and a half years to the next General Election.

He is going to need every single day available if he is to metamorphosise his rambling words into policies that the voter can have any idea about what the hell he is talking about.




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