Miliband’s on the hunt – but he desperately lacks a clarion call

In today’s New Statesman, David Miliband has released a new essay on building Britain a social democratic future. It’s disappointing.

Miliband’s focus on Labour’s electoral strategy neglects a more urgent and, for progressives, a more difficult question: What’s the point of the progressive project anymore?

Against the backdrop of mass bankruptcies and near-bankruptiies – and, consequently, the bankruptcy of supply side economic policies – could there be an easier, more ripe time for progressive parties to articulate the dangers of unregulated finance and, more importantly, an agenda for remedying the follies wreaked by the unchecked financial sector? Yet, instead of piercing analysis and a compelling vision, Milliband rifles his only almost-zinger towards the not even low-hanging so much as long since plucked, Mr. Roy Hattersley.

“But in his article, liberty, rights, social justice and equality are listed as a range of desirable values, when the issue is how to resolve clashes between values, not whether you can make a list of them.”

A passable criticism – if you’re on the high school debate team. Less so if you’re attempting to re-imagine and inspire the realignment of middle and working Britain’s political passions.

Having set his bar so low, I politely await the underwhelming all-too-easy grand finale he’s obviously teed-up. Instead, New New Labour serves up this:

“…we are enjoined … to put power as well as wealth and opportunity in the hands of the many, not the few.”

Got that? And that abstract nothing-speak was one of his more impassioned sentences.

At a time when, as Miliband concedes himself, Europe has 24 out of 27 left-leaning parties out of power despite the FT running a Capitalism in Crisis series while one populist GOP presidential candidate is attacking his Republican colleague as a “Vulture Capitalist”, the question, while it still retains some relevance, must be: Progressives: Is this all?

Where’s the progressive critique for the new century? Is there none?