Ed thrills Polly and Peter but not Tony and Mandy
The trouble is, many of the get-rich-quick brigade are members of Ed Miliband’s own party
IT TAKES a lot to unite the right-wing Daily Telegraph commentator Peter Oborne and Polly Toynbee of the Guardian but Ed Miliband has managed it with yesterday's keynote speech in Liverpool where he lambasted the "quick buck" society.
It is remarkable that Miliband's attack on Britain's unequal society has been hailed by right and left in the media, but it will have left some politicians, including Tony Blair, distinctly uncomfortable.
Polly Toynbee, the former SDP cheerleader, is hugely enthusiastic about Ed's assault on the get-rich-quick merchants who make millions of pounds while the rest of us struggle to make ends meet. She says that Ed may not be the greatest orator, but argues that his is the language people at the school gates understand.
While Polly and her pals at the Grauniad were in ecstasies about the speech – Seamus Milne, the resident Marxist, was also thrilled by it – Oborne was blogging that it showed Ed "had found his voice". Blimey!
Oborne wrote: "In his speech to the Labour Conference, Ed Miliband is getting close to finding a language that speaks directly to the people of Britain. He is quite right to say that something hasn't just gone wrong in the very bottom of society – it's gone very wrong at the top as well.
"There has been a culture of lawlessness among the very rich, among journalists and among parliamentarians just as much as on council estates, and Ed Miliband is being very bold in highlighting this. His speech is just as much a critique of the Blair-Brown years as it is of David Cameron, and what he is attempting to do is to articulate the anxiety of the squeezed people of middle Britain."
Here's the Mole's explanation for Oborne's delight. Earlier this week, the Telegraph man presented a Dispatches programme on Channel 4 about how Blair had amassed millions by cashing in on his influence in the Middle East.
Oborne was rightly indignant to discover that while Blair represents the Quartet in Middle East peace talks, a secretive Tony Blair company, TBA, has been hired at vast expense by some of the Arab states he is supposed to be negotiating with for advice on running their economies.
What Oborne learned was what the Mole hears constantly from the Blair camp these days – that the man is obsessed with wealth. "He's in another league now," one Blair insider told me this week. "He keeps talking about how many millions the super rich like Bill Clinton are worth. He wants to be as rich as they are."
Toynbee warned against seeing Ed's speech – as the Conservatives are painting it – as a lurch to the left, a return to old-fashioned socialism by Red Ed. She's right. It's not.
But if Ed's rhetoric is to mean anything, he must take on those political grandees – many within his own party - who have used the system to get rich quick.
In addition to Tony Blair, there's Peter Mandelson, who once said Labour should be extremely "relaxed" about people getting filthy rich and this week moved into an £8m mansion having amassed the money largely from lucrative public offices, such as his term as European commissioner.
Then there are the Kinnocks, the husband and wife team, Neil and Glenys, who have both made a fortune out of European posts where she was an MEP and he was a commissioner. Today, they both sit in the Lords with nice EU pensions to add to their daily sign-on fees.
It may be a brave new era that Ed Miliband is ushering in - as he put it on the Today programme this morning - but he needs to take on more difficult targets than Fred Goodwin's knighthood. He must also deal with those who pile up millions in public sector posts with lifetime job security and fat pensions. ·
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