Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Ed Miliband 'I am...a person of faith'

Update: more on this from Fraser Nelson in Fridays Telegraph.

Here's part of Ed Milibands speech from Tuesdays conference

...It is this upbringing that has made me who I am. A person of faith, not a religious faith but a faith nonetheless. A faith, I believe, many religious people would recognise. So here is my faith. I believe we have a duty to leave the world a better place than we found it. I believe we cannot shrug our shoulders at injustice, and just say that’s the way the world is. And I believe that we can overcome any odds if we come together as people.

That’s how my Mum survived the war. The kindness of strangers. Nuns in a convent who took her in and sheltered her from the Nazis, took in a Jewish girl at risk to themselves. It’s what my dad found when he came to these shores and joined the Royal Navy and was part of Britain winning the war.

Now of course my parents didn’t tell me what career to go into. My late father, as some of you know, wouldn’t agree with many of the things I stand for. He would’ve loved the idea of “Red Ed.” But he would have been a little bit disappointed that it isn’t true. My mum probably doesn’t agree with me either, but like most mums is too kind to say so. And look when I was younger I wasn’t certain I wanted to be a politician. But I do believe the best way me for to give back to Britain, the best way to be true to my faith, is through politics. Now that is not a fashionable view today. Because millions of people have given up on politics, they think we’re all the same. Well I guess you could say I am out to prove them wrong.

That is who I am. That is what I believe. That is my faith.

and it's obviously a key passage for him, because he returns to it to close the speech:

Who can come up to the task of rebuilding Britain? Friends, it falls to us, it falls to us, the Labour Party. As it has fallen to previous generations of Labour Party pioneers to leave our country a better place than we found it. Never to shrug our shoulders at injustice and say that is the way the world is. To come together, to join together, to work together as a country.

It’s not some impossible dream. We’ve heard it, we’ve seen it, we’ve felt it. That is my faith.

One nation: a country for all, with everyone playing their part. A Britain we rebuild together.

So, translated, what is Ed Milibands faith? It's not in God, or anything supernatural, but here's my attempt state his creed:
 - Vocation: we are here to make the world a better place (though he talks of this as a 'duty' rather than a 'purpose')
 - Justice: the key principle of social order, aka Fairness
 - Hope: people have the power to do anything if they work together.

I'm not sure how coherent this is - e.g how the two stories about his family relate to these three statements. I'm not sure whether this an attempt to connect with the faith vote (though I doubt all atheists will be pleased at the way this maps the 'faith' territory), or just an interesting way of expressing himself.

For me the content falls short of the headline - is this it? They're all good principles, though unfortunately a couple of them sound a bit karaoke - make the world a better place, overcome the odds, did I hear the sound of Louis Walsh? Which leaves the justice one, which is curiously weak in its phrasing. Miliband comes from socialist stock, which had a strong and explicit faith and creed: he seems to have inherited the framework, but filleted the content.

I was listening to this on the radio with my son in the back seat, and after trying to explain to him about parties, leaders and elections, he asked 'which one's ours?' I said at the moment I had no idea, there's nobody I really want to vote for. And after that speech, to be honest I'm no clearer. A lot of us would love to be convinced by our politicians, and are finding it increasingly frustrating that they don't manage it. But I think we also know that the Hero Leader is a myth, they don't exist. Maybe, therefore, Miliband is right when he focuses on working together, but to work together you need a shared vision and goals, One Nation needs to be more than a slogan, it needs to win hearts and minds.


  1. Excellent blog post david, teasing this out for us.

    I'll get up a link in the morning.

  2. Isn't that the essence of secular humanism?

  3. Reminds me of the bit in Miss Congeniality where each candidate has to say that the one thing in the world that they want to see is "world peace".

  4. What's puzzling me is his choice of the word 'faith' when he could just as easily have talked about 'values', 'convictions' 'beliefs' etc. Why go for the overtly religious terminology?

  5. Maybe he uses 'faith' because of a humility in him having come from the background he outlined, as it calls on something bigger than just the power of individual 'values', 'connvictions' etc. ??

  6. I can only applaud Ed. He may not be a Christian but he is someone that believes in many of the same values which under-grid the desire to see a better world.
    The cynic sees it as a cliché but i have a lot more confidence in a man that comes from the people than someone who refers to us all being in it together but gives out £40k tax bonanza to those earning £1M/yr while cutting the benefits of the poorest in society!