— Scott Wheeler contributed with this post.
As the welfare state faces its biggest cutbacks since its existence, the Labour party – and more importantly the country – deserve a credible opposition.
40,000 police officers face being cut, the education budget could be slashed by up to 40%, tuition fees are almost certain to go up, unemployment is likely to increase and the welfare budget faces enormous cuts. The IMF has said that the budget is regressive, contrary to the views of Nick Clegg and David Cameron.
Whilst the left should welcome increasing the level at where you pay income tax from £6,000 to £10,000 (over the five years), they should oppose its counter productive timing. It’s the working classes who will be hit hardest by the cut backs to public services.
How many police officers and teachers will have to be cut as result of this tax cut? How many new or extra indirect taxes, which often hit the poor the hardest, will be introduced? We’ve already seen the VAT proposed increase, which Nick Clegg campaigned against prior to signing himself over as a human shield to the Tories.
Ed Miliband would offer something different. His views are clear: cutting the entire deficit over four years (just in time for a pre-election giveaway) will risk a double-dip recession and dangerously risk throwing millions of people onto unemployment benefits. If we had taken this attitude in 1945 we would of never have built a welfare state. We would of never have created millions of jobs. We would of never have built the NHS.
The recession was the worst the country has faced since the 1930s, with many economists predicting that unemployment would peak between three and four million. It hasn’t hit those figures. In fact, unemployment began falling at the end of the last government and didn’t even hit 2.5 million.
That is why we need the party and one that is authentically socially democratic. That doesn’t mean jumping back to the 1980s, but standing firmly by basic Labour party principles. The 50% tax rate on those earning six figure salaries must stay. Ed Miliband has been brave enough to say he wants to keep it – permanently. This is in contrast with his brother David, who wants to scrap it in the medium term.
Ed also talks about setting up a high pay commission to target excessive wealth. Retaining the bankers’ bonus tax, increasing the bankers’ levy, and introducing a new financial transactions tax. Narrowing the gap between rich and poor will be his centre policy. Again, unlike his brother Ed believes that Labour needs to move on from the “New Labour comfort zone”. He talks passionately about replacing the national minimum wage from £5.85 to a living wage of at least £7.60 per hour. He will do this by offering tax breaks to businesses that adopt a living wage.
As Ed says, Labour needs to be “the party of small business” which will be seen by some as an attack on New Labour’s cosy relationship with the city and big business. Ed, unlike his brother, wants to replace tuition fees with a graduate tax. This is a fair way forward – not expecting the working class to pay for our education, but making sure that those that benefit the most from university pay their fair share. Again, unlike his brother; Ed Miliband was against the Iraq War.
Also, Ed acknowledges the Labour Party need to stop appealing to Tory newspapers and start appealing more to our so called “core vote” who are increasingly abandoning Labour. Ed can also appeal to the Liberal Democrat voters and their MPs with his centre-left and socially liberal stance.
Labour needs to move on from Blair, Mandelson, and Alastair Campbell.
Ed Miliband should get the left-wing’s vote.Tweet