This morning, Ed Miliband gave a speech at Google’s Big Tent event. Here’s a transcript of part of it.
I’d like to start by showing you four pictures and asking you to decide which is the odd one out, because it’s reveals the theme of my talk: what kind of future we want to build.
The first is my dad. His name was Ralph Miliband. He was a Marxist Professor.
The second is Willy Wonka, the genius who owns the factory in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and eventually gives it all away to Charlie’s family.
The third is Margaret Hodge, Labour chair of the Public Accounts Committee, who, as you know, has been very critical of Google in the last few days.
And the fourth is Google, along with your founding slogan: “Don’t be evil”.
So, as they say on “Have I Got News from You?”, I’d like people to tell me who is the odd one out.
Well, I’ll tell you my answer.
My answer is that it is my dad.
Because he’s the only one who thought that the route to a fair society was not through capitalism but through socialism based on public ownership.
It wasn’t just my dad who thought it, of course.
Until 1995 this view was enshrined on the membership card of the party I now lead.
Tony Blair got rid of it and rightly so, because nationalising the major industries is not the route to a fair society.
That’s right. It’s the Labour Party’s position now that fictional chocolate factory-owner offers a better model for society than Clause 4. So, let’s look at exactly what kind of model for capitalism, Mr Wonka provides.
WORKFORCE: Taking advantage of a large population of displaced peoples with limited language skills (Wonka boasts that this makes them immune to attempts at industrial sabotage), Wonka has no native workers in his factory at all. By employing physically-handicapped immigrants, who appear to be in a situation close to indentured servitude he further depresses wages in Britain and exploits a community he seems unwilling to help repatriate.
HEALTH AND SAFETY: Wonka has a woeful safety record. On a recent visit of 5 children to his factory, 4 ended up dead or severely shrunk from their short time in the factory. As an additional point, the correct way to move a girl who has been turned into a giant bluberry is not to roll her, but to lift from the knees.
COMMUNITY: Far from being a responsible employer, whose outreach ensures that the whole community benefits from the presence of a factory, Wonka shuts himself away, letting no one into or out of the factory. Indeed, he occupies a prime slice of local real estate that could be better used for social projects, as there seems to be no rational reason why he maintains this location in the city centre.
ENVIRONMENT: We can only assume that the chocolate river has been formed by the melting of the chocolate ice-caps, and his factory’s continual belching of purple smoke suggests that Wonka’s environmental record may be less than stellar.
ANTI-COMPETITIVE: The Everlasting Gobstopper is clearly a way to lock people into one gobstopper format for the rest of their lives, and to reduce the market share for all other competitors. Much like Amazon, it is using loss leaders to get people to use Wonka products, force competitors out of the market, before – presumably – raising prices when they are the only player left.
That’s the model Ed Miliband thinks we should be following in the 21st century. Anti-competitive, highly secretive, exploitative of both resources and people, giving nothing to the community.
Just as long as we know where he stands.