Monday, 10 August 2015

Labour Party & Corbyn's Policy Proposals

by Les May
WRITING in 'i' last week Frank Cottrell Boyce said:
' Only 25 percent of the population earns more than £30,000 a year. Most media professionals do (including me). For  people like me, the country basically works. Politics doesn't affect me. Politics, for me, is about how other people are treated.'

I'm with Frank.  I don't earn that sort of money any more but my pension reminds me that I used to. Add in my State Retirement Pension and I'm doing OK. 

And the country 'works' for our politicians to. After leaving government in 2010 David Miliband was paid (I won't say earned) £985,315 'doing foreigners' in the three years to 2013 whilst still drawing his salary of £65,000 a year as an MP. Nice work if you can get it David! 

The Labour  'tiddlers' are at it too. In 2013 Rochdale MP Simon Danczuk got himself a nice job with Shine Bid Services paying £1000 a month for one day's work. It only seems to have lasted three months either because 'Red Ed' said he wanted to stop MPs having second jobs or because it didn't go down too well with some people in Rochdale.

It's not in the interests of media commentators or Labour MPs of this ilk to change things. They may wrap it up in talk of 'wealth creation', being 'business friendly' or 'aspirational', but it's just a defence of the status quo. 

There's nothing new about Labour MPs who are fundamentally middle class. Clement Attlee and Hugh Gaitskell spring to mind. But the difference between these two and Labour MPs in the David Miliband/Simon Danczuk mould is that they saw that there was something wrong with the system and it had to change.

There's something wrong with the system now. As Frank Cottrell Boyce put it in his article:
 'An economy in which you can work 50 hours a week and still need tax credits to pay the rent is broken.'

I am a life long Labour voter.  I dropped my membership of the Labour party when it began to chase the politics of identity in the late 1980s.  Since then to be classed as 'of the left' one only has to mouth platitudes about feminism, racism and more recently about sexual identity. Gone is any overt commitment to social or economic justice.  I could pay my £3 and try to get Corbyn elected as leader, but I won't. I will continue to vote Labour if he were elected.  I wouldn't if Liz Kendall were.

The people who are saying his leadership would be a disaster are the ones for whom the system works.  For people like Blair it makes no difference that we have a Tory government.  It makes no difference to me either. Cameron knows that old people like me are more likely to vote. Why stir up trouble over the winter fuel allowance when he can just let it 'whither on the vine' as inflation reduces its costs in real terms?

So why do I care?  Why do I, and people like me, find Corbyn by far the most appealing of all the leadership candidates? I'm not hung up on renationalisation of the railways.  But I do want them to work.  I want to be able to go into any station and book the cheapest ticket to anywhere in the country using any train.  I don't want to be crammed onto a train with too few coaches every day. I don't want to surcharged if I find myself paying the conductor.  If it takes nationalisation to make the system work so be it. If you object to nationalisation just make the system work.  Or would doing that not be 'business friendly'?

I want to see a Labour Party that will ban 'zero hours contracts' not make excuses for them, that will commit itself to splitting the generating arm of each of the big energy companies from its retail arm so that 'competition' actually works, that shouts that it is a scandal that so many people are dependent on food banks, that recognises the need for publicly funded and owned housing and says so, that recognises that trades unions have a legitimate role to play in maintaining their members' living standards, above all I want to see a Labour party committed to reducing inequality. Equality of opportunity isn't enough; let's hear more about equality of outcome. Hardly 'Red Revolution' is it?

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