Red Ed?

Ed Miliband, who just beat his brother David to the Labour Party chairmanship with 1.3% of the vote, has offered him the Shadow Chancellor post. Ironically, this would mean that the blairite David is now Chancellor under the brownite Ed in an age where Labour is supposed to put Blair-Brown behind them.

Bagehot, the former Charlemagne at The Economist, speculates that the now 45 year old David Miliband has in this fashion gotten few serious ways to matter in top politics. Personally, I would not count this in parliament circles and among party members very popular fellow out just yet. Maybe he will spend 5-10 years in a think-thank and come up with a new strategy? Maybe I'm old fashioned but a 55 year old Prime Minister is perfectly OK.

The question is what this means for the European left? Gunnar Hökmark, a moderate EU parlamentarian, writes in his blog that we are talking about a movement to the left within the left and that this trick did not play out well in the recent Swedish election where the center-right focused its campaign against the Left Party, the former communists in coalition with the Social Democrats.

However, the fact that Labour still moves in the same direction might mean that the British don't look much to Sweden for ideas but also that they are becoming more nationalistic, a trend seen in Sweden as well with the rise of the Sweden Democrats. The foreign secretary experienced and thereby internationally connected David Miliband did not suit the union idea of a new Britain. The world seems to matter less for the left?

The ruling coalition of Tories and Liberal Democrats are of course pleased that the more centrist cosmopolitic competitor David Miliband is neutralized for now because it does not encroach on their territory. Counting out the left in Europe is probably immature since the Red-Green coalition in Germany is doing quite well right now. The Greens a making progress in Sweden as well where they saved the Red-Green coalition from a complete embarrassment in which the once so dominating Social Democrats lost almost 5% and now have only about 30% of the vote, the same as the Moderate center-right party.

In order to create a majority government situation in Sweden, the center-right coalition Alliansen only got 173 of the 175 needed for a majority, Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt tried to cajole the Greens to leave their Red-Green coalition. However, Maria Wetterstand, one of the two porte paroles of the Green party claimed that they did not have a mandate from their voters to make such a shift. This is strange because the liberal Center party has been the green wing of the Alliansen and thus afforded a backing for many of the green policies.

The main argument against Alliansen from Ms Wetterstrand was that she could not think of joining a coalition that threw out sick people from the welfare system, something the Alliansen has been blamed for doing when the halved the number of people on sick leave to the levels commensurate with other comparable countries in Europe. A necessary reform the Social Democrats had not managed to do themselves and which their policies had created. She then used an argument that had not been successful wooing voters in the election. Alliansen had offered real prosperity rather than prosperity if things went wrong via the welfare system.

Well, so how red is "Red Ed"? Some people write that his ambition is to regain the center ground and that he himself have said that his is his own man who is independent from the unions. In this case he has just out politicked his older brother for the power position and might not be particularly red at all. He has been for citizen salaries which is supposed to be leftish although I personally think they should be both left and right because we are talking about a human rights issue. We are talking of not returning to slavery. This is of course a compassionate streak in his curriculum which demonstrates concern for the ailments of this time.

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