Ed Miliband, the leader of the Labour Party, hosted a Q&A session at the University of Nottingham’s (UoN) on Tuesday 20th May. Ed beat his brother, David, to the position of leader of the opposition in 2010 – he is the party’s youngest ever leader.
Ed first joined the Labour Party as a researcher, before eventually rising up the ranks to Cabinet Minister during Gordon Brown’s prime ministerial tenure. Since becoming leader of the opposition, Ed has sought to present himself as more left-wing than his predecessors. If the Labour Party wins the next general election, he says that he will seek to reform the banking system, improve equality, increase the minimum wage, freeze energy bills until 2017 and build more homes.
Ed is influenced by the German approach to its economy and will look to implement the party’s policies in line with the concept of ‘one nation’.
A common criticism levelled at Ed is his failure to provide details about potential policies. Ed has also been accused of being anti-business, in light of his willingness to draw attention to the limits of the market and his avocation of the introduction of rules to tackle inherent inequalities.
After the Q&A, Impact News caught up with Ed to find out about how he plans to encourage young people to engage in politics, his views on university education, his perspective on Nigel Farage and the impact of the Brown/Blair reforms to the Labour Party at the end of the 1990s.
Do you think that politics should be be made a compulsory part of the national curriculum for secondary education?
I certainly think that people need to be taught about politics and citizenship in schools. I think there is a real issue about preparing people early, particularly getting people to understand the impact that politics can have on their lives. So many people think politics can’t make a difference and I think it can.
“So many people think politics can’t make a difference and I think it can”
One of the the reason’s why I want votes at 16 is to give that sense to people early on, that they’ve got a democratic right, but alongside that you’ve got to have proper education.
What do you see the value of university is? Do you see the increasing marketisation of universities as a negative development?
I think universities are great value. I went to university, I enjoyed it, I think it can make a real difference to you – for your life – not just career wise but more generally.
“I do worry about the marketisation of education”
I do worry about the marketisation of education, I worry about what £9000 tuition fees are doing to people’s prospects of going to university, the prospects of being saddled with tens of thousands of pounds worth of debt. So I do worry about that yes, and that’s why we want to try and do something about it.
Do you think that Nigel Farage’s claim that the political establishment is alienating the average voter, has some truth in it?
I disagree with Nigel Farage on a great many things – I think what’s true to say is that the political system is something that people have lost faith in because it’s not solving the problems in their own lives.
“I think Nigel Farage has completely the wrong answers”
I think Nigel Farage has completely the wrong answers, whether its on getting out of Europe, whether its on Britain moving away from being an open and tolerant country, whether its to do with his economic policies. I just think that he has got the wrong answers.
Do you think Gordon Brown and Tony Blair’s reforms to the Labour Party at the end of the 1990s comprised the fundamental principles that underlie social democracy ?
No. I think that they were right for their time. I think that they were right to change the way the Labour Party stood – but I think we’ve got to cope with the new challenges we face now and we face a different set of challenges.
“I think that they were right to change the way the Labour Party stood”
It is partly about learning lessons from the past on everything from banks to Iraq, to other things but its also about saying what are the challenges we face today. How do we cope with what Britain is facing today? Not what Britain was facing in 1997 – a very long time ago.
Kateryna Rolle and Belinda Toor
Click here to read about Ed’s Q&A on Jubilee campus