Labour Biding Time – Wisdom or Caution?


 Labour Biding Time – Wisdom or Caution?

If we are to believe the polls, Labour has a good chance of achieving a majority at the next election.  Labour leader, Ed Miliband assures us that New Labour is history, and his Party are painfully aware that the electorate feel betrayed by The New Labour experiment.

The electorate are angry to be saddled with an extreme right-wing government, led by a Tory Party which did not get an overall majority.

The fixed term parliament is a double edged sword. It does mean that the Tories can’t decide to send a surprise Task Force off to the Falklands to boost its popularity as it did in 1982, and then call a snap election ( is it really a coincidence that it’s in the News again?) However it also means that we have to endure five full years of an extreme government which does not expect to be re-elected and so is determined to inflict as much damage on the electorate, making it doubly difficult for an incoming government.

Timing is all, many, ill-thought-out Coalition policies have had to be shelved, and it is important that Labour have the right policies and Labour don’t want to appear rushed or hasty. But lingering also gives the impression of a hesitant and fearful Party. I am sensing Labour is beginning to look stronger and more forceful in taking on the Coalition, but clear, straight talking is needed. It’s not enough to depend on the Coaltion failing, and how to counteract the government blaming the austerity and cuts on a previous government rather than the Banks? Labour must present convincing policies about how to overcome the stranglehold of the Big Six energy companies, and tax injustice.

The promise of a job guarantee for the long term unemployed on a living wage will be welcome, will lift spirits, lead to growth and recovery.

The following Big Five Policies are just a beginning, (Fabian Society), but are a good foundation on which to build.

  • A guaranteed job for everyone facing long-term unemployment, paid from falling social security rolls and some equivalent of the 1997 windfall tax on excess profits
  • A massive house building programme including a million affordable homes, funded by future rents and sales
  • Merging social care into the NHS, with health bodies commissioning community support and care, but with richer older people paying more towards the costs
  • Increased hours of free childcare to boost  employment for mothers (and some fathers), a move that might possibly pay for itself
  • High-status vocational and workplace training from 14 to pension age, with state funding for courses that boost long-term prospects in the middle of the labour market

Labour also knows it needs to reach out to the public beyond its members, and show it is listening. The “People’s Policy Forum” is symbolic of a change in the culture of the Labour Party, and it is pleasing to hear.

LabPost Labourposters

It’s not enough to depend on the Coaltion failing, but how will Labour counteract the government blaming the austerity and cuts on the previous government rather than the Banks?

IPPR points out the need for Labour to re-establish its economic argument :

Labour has begun to paint a picture of what ‘One Nation Labour’, unveiled by Ed Miliband last autumn, might mean in terms of a strategic approach to running the economy that is different from both that of the current government and that of the Blair and Brown era. Economic growth, we are told, is to be achieved from the ‘middle out’ – that is, by putting more spending power in the hands of those in employment through such measures as the promotion of the living wage, enhancing the skills and thus the earning power of non-graduates, and tax cuts that benefit the less well paid.

Labour also knows it needs to reach out to the public beyond its members, and show it is listening. The “People’s Policy Forum” is symbolic of a change in the culture of the Labour Party, and it is pleasing to hear.

We will not treat the British people like fools – we want to hear what everyone has to say, says Angela Eagle.

New Statesman

This Saturday, Ed Miliband and Labour’s shadow cabinet will join nearly two thousand members of the public in Birmingham. The “People’s Policy Forum” is one of many opportunities for members of the public to shape Labour’s offer to the British people in 2015. The Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats on the other hand have spent recent weekends addressing party faithful at spring conferences. While they are concerned with resolving internal disputes, Labour is united and looking outwards, talking to the public rather than talking to itself.

With just over two years to go until the election, people want to know what One Nation Labour offers as an alternative to this unfair and incompetent government.

This is encouraging to hear. Let us all hope that Labour biding time in formulating policies and convincing the lost voters of change is wise, and entrenched with confidence, commitment and self-belief, and not hesitation and fear about the Press – we’ve been there before.

23rd March Speech:   Ed Miliband:  One Nation Britain can prevent a lost decade

See Also:

  1. The New Statesman People’s Policy  Forum is Symbolic of a Change in the Labour Party
  2. Austerity and the Labour Party 
  3. The Fabian Society: Labour’s next State: The Big Five.
  4. IPPR Time for Labour to establish credibility 
  5. Straight Talking Labour
  6. Labour Puzzles Potential Voters about their Intent
  7. Falklands War turned Tory Fortunes

Spare Houses for the Rich – No Spare Bedrooms for the Poor


Spare Houses for the Rich – No Spare Bedrooms for the Poor

By CJ Stone, previously published here

There were two items of news this week which seemed to fit uncannily together.

One of them was about the bedroom tax, one of the new raft of welfare reforms which are being brought in by this government to cut people’s benefits. There was a story about it in last week’s Whitstable Gazette: about Ian Salt, who will lose benefits because he keeps a kidney dialysis machine in his spare room.

How selfish of him. Doesn’t he know that in this new world of austerity it is a crime to be sick? After all, we need that money to pay for banker’s bonuses, don’t we?

Effect of Bedrrom Tax CJS

But something occurred to me as I was reading the story. Spare rooms for kidney dialysis machines is one thing, but the very notion of the bedroom tax implies that people on benefits aren’t expected to have any kind of a life at all.

What about a spare bedroom for guests to stay in? What about spare rooms for the kids? Or aren’t the poor allowed friends any more? Aren’t the kids of poor parents allowed to play?

The whole philosophy is based upon the idea that the poor should only have a minimal existence. It is a return to the notion of the deserving and undeserving poor which guided the institution of the workhouse in the nineteenth century.

The second piece of news was about the right to buy scheme of the early 80s. This was the scheme, promoted by Margaret Thatcher, to sell off the nation’s housing stock to tenants.

It turns out that almost half of our old council houses are now owned by private landlords. So it’s all right for the rich to have several spare houses, but it’s not all right for the poor to have one spare bedroom.

The point about this is that a large proportion of our housing benefit over the years has gone to pay a premium to private landlords to pay off mortgages on buy to let properties; as a supplement to the private sector, in other words, rather than as a benefit to the public.