With a Tory-LibDem deal still uncertain, what are the priorities for the Labour Party? The New Labour programme having been clearly rejected at the polls, what now is needed is a progressive renewal for Labour which will revive party enthusiasm and potentially offer majority electoral support. That should be centred round 5 fundamental objectives:
1 A determination to tackle the deficit primarily round economic growth and taxation of the rich rather than public spending cuts, and under no circumstances to put the fragile recovery at risk of a double-dip recession. Labour’s commitment to halve the budget deficit by £81bn over 4 years can be met largely by economic growth (2% growth would increase government revenues by some £50bn over 4 years) and by taxing the super-rich (a 50% tax on incomes over £100,000 including bonuses, 60% on incomes over £250,000, capital gains tax fixed at the same rate as income tax, ending the non-dom loophole, a Tobin tax of 0.1% on UK stockmarket transactions, much tougher action against tax havens and tax evasion, and a solidarity tax on wealth could yield at least £40bn over a 4 year period).
2 A rebalancing of the UK economy – hiving off the casino investment arms of the banks to prevent any recurrence of the recent financial meltdown, a shrinking of the City of London so as not to crowd out the industrial sector, and a major revival of high-quality manufacturing as the real lifeblood of the nation.
3 An end to the discredited privatisation of public services (especially the failed PFI, the most recent example being the bankruptcy bail-out of the London Underground PPP) and a revived role for the State in essential services, not only health and education, but also housing, pensions, energy and transport.
4 A massive programme to break inter-generational poverty and the alienation of an increasingly entrenched under-class at one end of our profoundly distorted class system, and at the other end to limit income and other forms of remuneration to no more than 12 times the median pay in the same organisation.
5 Alongside these policy goals must go the revival of the Labour Party membership as a major political force. This must involve the much increased accountability of MPs (including the right of recall), substantial Parliamentary democratic reform to make MPs more influential against the Executive, and the restoration of a Party Conference that debates and votes on major issues which the party leadership is obliged to take account of.
A programme of this kind would transform the Labour Party’s prospects at the next election which may not be far off.
No related posts.