David Miliband answers questions on The Student Room

David Miliband typing

On Wednesday the 15th of September David Miliband took part in a live Q&A on The Student Room. The reason being to get exposure to and endorsement from students for the upcoming leadership election.

A seperate forum was created called ‘Ask David Miliband’ and each question from members was created as a new thread. The forum was a great success and one week on from David’s appearance on TSR shows that it created a huge amount of discussion amongst students.

33,201 Page views
509 Posts in the ‘Ask David Miliband’ forum
136 Questions submitted by TSR users
28 additional discussions generated across 10 seperate forums

In 30 minutes he was able to rattle through about 15 questions posed by site members. At one point, he asked something along the lines of “are there any less serious questions” – I think he was taken aback by the level of political engagement on the site, and by the quality of the questions that were posed by our students.

His replies are summarised below:

DM on why people should vote Labour:

“I think Labour has the right values – social justice, cooperatin, mutual responsibility. I think it has the right vision – power, wealth and opportunity in the hands of the many not the few. And come the next election I plan that we develop the right policies – for a moral economy and a Good Society. As for the deficit and debt, you will never reduce them if you dont grow the economy.”

DM on his father’s anti-Vietnam, anti-American stance:

“It’s great when people say to me they read my dad’s books or heard his lectures. The Vietnam War was clearly wrong. I think he found some competition for the worst chapter in LP history….”

DM on Labour causing the deficit:

“I don’t agree! In fact I think you have got it back to front. The vast bulk of the deficit arose to prevent recession becoming depression after the collapse of Lehman brothers. We were right to say we would halve the deficit over four years as growth returned. The figs for the first half of this year show that the policy was working; the Government have to justify overturning it in favour of economic masochism that is dangerous.”


“I think you will find the deficit in 1997, and I think the debt, bigger than the pre crisis period in Britain.”

DM on protecting the welfare state:

“We should call for responsibility from top to bottom of society – from tax payers to benefit claimants. The welfare state helps make this a decent society. Greater support for families has been vital to giving kids a decent start in life. We must not throw that away.”

DM on lack of support for post graduate education:

“This is a really good point. Part time students and post grads need to be part of a comprehensive system of student support. I can’t pretend that graduates wont have to pay back what they borrow once they are earning a decent income – they will. But we need to be continuing to ensure that HE plays a major role in economic growth and social mobility (as well as the advance of knowledge – good in itself).”

DM on politicians socialising together. (Ever have tea with David Cameron? Or go to the cinema…?)

“We usually offer tea in Labour Party raffles – but not with David Cameron! Not sure about politicians sitting in the dark together, but there is mutual respect with politicians who take arguments seriously. It’s worth saying that the vast bulk of people who go into politics – of all parties – do so for what they want to do for the country not for self interest.”

DM on Israeli and Palestinian talk, and his stance:

“This is the biggest diplomatic failure in the post war period – because the answer is so clear. I support a Palestinian state living alongside Israel, based on 1967 borders, with Jerusalem as its capital. The settlement building process is illegal and an obstacle to peace. My way forward would obviously be to support the talks – through practical help to the Palestinian economy and security sector, through regional engagement cos we need the whole Arab world engaged, and through international efforts including UN and EU.”

DM responding to why Labour and “the Left” obsessed with taxing the rich:

“Its not a cheap shot to say that economic masochism is not the same as an economic strategy. It is bad for the economy. We set out to halve the deficit in four years. We showed how a mix of growth, fair tax increases eg the 50p rate and spending reductions (starting with £20bn we itemised) would do that.”

DM on his relationship with brother Ed (as a result of the leadership campaign):

“We’ve seen quite a lot of each other at hustings! Its actually been better than I expected. Its not been a brawl. We have set out different views without forgetting that the differences between us are small compared to the differences between us and the Tories. Family is more important than politics. I am proud of Ed.”

DM on David Cameron’s first 120 days:

“On the Govt as a whole, they have taken risks where they should have been cautious eg on economy and health 9where their plans are a nightmare) and they have been paralysed where they should have been strong e.g. on green issues where they have done nothing and crime/security issues where review of CCTV are just delaying tactics.”

DM on the BBC:

“I think the BBC is a huge asset for the country. I have seen around the world how it sets a standard for broadcasting and reaches places that others don’t care about. Of course it needs to be efficient, more efficient in fact, but it is a good thing for the country.”

DM on France’s expulsion of Romanian gypsies, and law to ban the burka:

“I haven’t been reading the French press but it has got a lot of play here. It is not the European way – except at worst points in our history – and as for the burka, I am not a religious person but I do think that people should be free to express their religious preferences as they fit. I have no objection to the burka nor to people wearing crosses, turbans etc.”

DM on arts funding:

“Mmmmm…I have to plead some conflict of interest here as my wife is a musician with the London Symphony Orchestra. But she is not paid very much, nor are most artists/musicians, and British arts are a massively important part of our heritage and future. Of course private funding is welcome but the state has a key role. Free museums was a great and simple Labour policy that has more than proved its worth.”

DM on Political Reform and the future of Socialism:

“AV for the Commons would be good alongside PR for the Lords. Socialism as an ethic I think means people working together in pursuit of values of equality and social justice…essential in the modern world.”