By Tim Montgomerie
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The Labour leader is constantly promising to stand up to vested interests and – as Stephan Shakespeare has pointed out – it's a powerful message at a time when voters are seeing their costs rise and their incomes fall. People have a sense that big banks, big energy companies and big government is not accountable. ConHome has ran a whole series on how the Tory leadership might stand up for the little guy. We've applauded the way that Tory MP Charlotte Leslie has championed the patient against the bureaucrat inside the NHS.
But back to Mr Miliband. Rachel Sylvester uses her Times column (£) to describe the "Digital Bennism"* that last week encouraged 44 Labour MPs to rebel against the frontbench. The issue concerned the ability of the Government to impose certain sanctions on jobseekers. The Labour frontbench wanted to abstain on the Government's proposals because it is *sometimes* sensitive to the suggestion that it is too soft on welfare claimants. A Left-wing online campaign, however – ran by "Digital Bennites" – encouraged 44 of Ed Miliband's parliamentary comrades to defy the whip and vote against the Coalition's measures.
For Rachel Sylvester this Old Labour rebellion might be the shape of things to come. At some point the Labour leadership is going to have to decide whether it will go into the next election promising to oppose George Osborne's spending plans (in which case it'll be hit by a 1992-tax-bombshell-style campaign) or if it will match his spending plans and risk the fury of Labour's Left. Last week's rebellion of the 44 – encouraged by the increasingly important Left-wing voices on Twitter (eg @OwenJones84) and the paymaster trade unions (eg the militant Len McCluskey) – was a warning to Mr Miliband that the biggest vested interest of them all can be found in his party and movement. Go to a Labour Party Conference and you can hardly find an entrepreneur or a private sector job creator. Labour is a party dominated by the public sector workforce and the welfare state. It defends the perks and privileges of the public sector and it advances the interests of the bureaucracy that administers the welfare state as well as the welfare state's unfocused sprawl. There may be trouble ahead for Mr Miliband.
* The online American Left are called the "nutroots".