MILIBAND AND BUSINESS
Ed Miliband is staking everything on being the people’s champion against vested interests. He may be personally awkward and unable to eat a bacon sandwich but he is convinced that voters will rally to Labour as the party for people who are fed up with the fat cats getting away with it. He may be right and if he can get enough of them to vote, he might win. On the other hand the Tories may succeed in nailing him as a leftie with a downer on enterprise.
It is essential that Miliband breaks out of the torpor that has surrounded his leadership. He can’t change his personal image, he can’t change the fact that the economy is on the mend but he has developed a habit of courageously taking on vested interests.
This began with Rupert Murdoch when revelations about phone tapping first emerged. Next were the energy companies threatened by a price freeze. Now Stefano Pessina of Boots and Tory donor Lord Fink are caught up in Ed’s latest campaign for people to pay their fair share of tax in the UK.
He is definitely on to something here. It is a common complaint that ordinary people on PAYE, well known to Inland Revenue and Customs, are readily fined for being a few days late with their tax forms whilst it seems these fat cats with their money stashed abroad are treated with awe and respect. The approach is justified on the grounds that being nice and polite might get some money back whereas going in hard with court cases will be costly and not productive. Well let’s try it and see whether the bad publicity leads to lots of these tax exiles paying up at the court door.
This matters. We are talking billions of pounds that could be being spent reducing the deficit and saving public services. If Ed Miliband can convince people it won’t be business as usual under him, he might be on to something at last.
KEY NORTHERN SEATS: SOUTHPORT.
Each week between now and the General Election I will be looking at some of the key contests in the Downtown in Business areas of the North West and Leeds.
We start with the battle between the Conservatives and Lib Dems in the genteel streets of Southport. In times past the constituency fluctuated regularly between the two parties. But since 1997 it has been in Lib Dem hands, initially in the shape of the flamboyant Ronnie Fern, but for the last three elections John Pugh has held the seat. Pugh, a school teacher for thirty years was a big contrast to Ronnie Fearn. He has earned a reputation as a good constituency MP recently highlighting the economic problems of resort towns in a Commons debate. Shamefully overlooked for ministerial office in the Coalition, he has distanced himself from some of the government’s policies.
His Tory opponent is supermarket executive and Preston councillor, Damien Moore. He has to overcome a six thousand Lib Dem majority, so the party will have to be in real meltdown for this seat to change hands.
Next week: Rossendale and Darwen.