Peter Finch won Best Actor Oscar due to this speech in the 1976 film, Network. In the depths of a recession, he plays a News Anchor who spontaneously tells the audience that “Nothing’s gonna change until you get mad!” And calls upon them to stand up and shout, “I’m mad as hell and I’m not gonna take this anymore!”
We’ve got a new recession in this country and one that is entirely the fault of the Tory government’s policy of squeezing the demand-side of the economy. Just when the policies of the last Labour government were achieving sustainable growth, we’ve now been thrown back into misery.
Never has there been a time when it would be more appropriate for the British people to get up and shout, “I’m mad as hell and I’m not gonna take this anymore!”
Unfortunately, the people have no leader. The Labour Party should be leading the call for them to get “mad as hell”, but Ed Miliband believes that confrontational politics puts voters off. I disagree.. I say that tentative politics puts voters off, because they don’t notice us; they don’t hear what we’re saying.
Peter Kellner, of YouGov, breaks down his polling to tell us that “the main opposition party should be miles ahead, not a measly five points.”
Some might say that we should never underestimate the determination of a quiet Miliband, but the country doesn’t want an Ian Duncan Smith, we want a voice for the people, and the people are angry.
We know Ed’s capable of having an edge, we see it enough in PMQs, but once he’s away from the dispatch box he seems to become a shadow of himself.
We get the impression that he’d rather have a discussion with the Fabian Society than defend the jobs and prospects of the British people. This would be an incorrect impression, but it’s completely his fault for allowing it to develop.
The Westminster Bubble takes the view that confrontation puts voters off politics. The electorate themselves say that they are sick of aggressive politics. Many people genuinely liked that press conference when Cameron and Clegg announced their coalition agreement.
But when they say that, they are referring to the mindless scoring of political points. It doesn’t mean that we should fail to offer a voice of opposition in an adversarial political system.
The leader didn’t oppose Ken Clarke’s plan to abolish jails without an effective alternative in place. The leader didn’t oppose the Forest sell-off. The leader raised no concerns regarding the bombing of Libya.
To miss out on one or two opportunities would be understandable. But to persistently miss opportunities is becoming something of a habit.
The NHS policy is bound to end up as a U-turn dressed up as a fudge. But the only thing I can remember Ed Miliband saying about this is that the Tories risk re-contaminating their brand. It was a good thing to say, but it wasn’t noticed by the bulk of the British people.
We’re getting towards a stage where our leader will be regarded by the British people as being the invisible man. It doesn’t have to be this way. The man who showed such a determination in the leadership contest, the man who took on his own brother and beat him in a four month, gruelling selection process, must surely be able to show some of that same determination in the leadership of our political party.
But maybe I’m wrong? Maybe it’s not a choice thing? Maybe Ed just doesn’t have the aptitude for the job of leading the opposition?
But I don’t think that is the case. I think he’s badly advised. We’ve tried non-confrontational politics and it hasn’t worked. The time has come for the leader to take his strategy onto a new and more aggressive stage.