Wednesday 8 February 2012

Battle of the speeches

When the press notice came through this morning that Ed Miliband would be giving a speech on Thursday on “fairness in tough times” there was something about it that smelt a bit fusty.

I couldn’t put my finger on it till I glanced over at my diary and realised what it was. The Labour Leader’s speech, timed to begin at 6pm, will take place at exactly the same time as a speech by his one-time-mentor turned nemeses – Maurice Glasman.

It was Lord Glasman, once described as a father-figure for Miliband, who soiled the Labour Leader’s January by writing an article claiming he had “no strategy, no narrative and little direction.”

I’ll be tweeting from the Glasman speech on Thursday and if he says anything interesting I’d wager it is he, and not Miliband, who gets more column inches on Friday morning.

Monday 6 February 2012

David Miliband suggests Coalition unemployment policy may have some merit

Earlier on we had a briefing with David Miliband who has been touting the proposals for tackling youth unemployment from a commission which he chaired.

In his opening spiel he said: “In terms of reforming the welfare state we’re saying that if you’re unemployed, if you’re on the Work Programme for a year you should automatically get a part time job guarantee – part time so that you can spend the rest of the time looking for work.

“We say that if you’re unemployed or on the Work Programme for two years you need to be in a long term subsidised job.”

The Work Programme is the Coalition’s flagship back-to-work policy, which sees contractors tasked to find jobs for the unemployed.

It’s interesting that David is suggesting ideas that incorporate the Work Programme because the official Labour Party line espoused by Ed has been to slag it off and say the previous government’s Future Jobs Fund (FJF) should be reinstated (see here and here).

So did David Miliband’s comments today mean he supported the Work Programme on some level and stood against the FJF – he did claim that the Work Programme was not extensive enough but went on to say…

“The Future Jobs Fund had good aspects including the sense of reality that it was a real job, but it also had some problems, for example in targeting different needs amongst young people – it was an emergency response to the recession.

“We say very clearly that we want to learn from the Work Programme, not reopen the debate to go back to it or not have it – we can actually learn from it.”

David’s response appears to be a break from Ed’s idea that the FJF should just be reinstated. Meanwhile there is the clear suggestion that the Coalition’s Work Programme has positive aspects.

I’m sure David would say this isn’t criticism of Ed's chosen path of course, just a thoughtful contribution to the debate.