Philip Whiteley's Blog

July 20, 2011

Shock discovery: you get behaviour from people

Filed under: Uncategorized — felipewh @ 10:07 am

There was an intriguing speech in July indicating that UK politics may be on the point of maturing beyond sectarian stereotypes. Ed Miliband, leader of the Labour opposition, drew attention to the behavioural similarities in the investment bankers, some tabloid reporters and the MPs fiddling their expenses. Recent years have seen ‘the irresponsibility of the powerful’, in which members of the elite thought that they could help themselves, and live above ordinary laws, he said.

Sadly, the analysis was incomplete. There was no mention of Mr Miliband’s predecessor as Labour leader, Gordon Brown, who euphorically declared an ‘end to boom and bust’ while Chancellor and then Prime Minister, as he ran a deficit at the top of the boom. He was every bit as carried away in the age of irresponsibility as Lehman Brothers and hacking tabloid journalists. Similarly, the European Union’s institutions hastily put together a single currency without the mechanisms to operate one, and cheered on the flattering growth figures as too much debt was built up within the eurozone. Lacking any democratic accountability, they are now running round looking for scapegoats, such as the ratings agencies.

This silence reflects reluctance on the part of centre-left politicians and the EU’s leaders to accept that they are now part of the wealthy elite, and to acknowledge that there are economic losers from their policies who are not rich. Taxpayers not even born yet will be paying off the colossal debts run up by Gordon Brown and the EU.

Nonetheless, it’s an interesting move by the younger Miliband to embrace the behavioural dimension when analysing recent political and economic crimes. His next step would be to have the courage to bring such analysis to constituencies closer to home. Doubtless, there will be criticisms, but I hope that criticisms are within the context and terms of reference that the Labour leader has used, which represent a step forward.

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