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The Alternative Economic Strategy: filling in the blank page

The Tories are now in very deep trouble over the NHS, education, housing, local government finance, and police numbers.   But the harsh truth remains that the electorate are still not going to turn to Labour so long as the Tory canard prevails that the country’s in the mess it’s in because Labour wrecked the economy with massive overspending.   If Labour is to grasp the electorate’s attention again, we must first explain why this Tory re-writing of history through constant reiteration in the right-wing media is a pastiche of the truth, and, second, set out clearly and persuasively what is the alternative to the current Tory menu of devastating cuts, rising unemployment, and sinking growth.   Both of these are entirely possible and urgently necessary.

The Tories are demanding 4% efficiency savings in the NHS, which have never been achieved in any year, for 4 years running if real cuts are to be avoided; this is impossible, and will lead to cuts of thousands of doctors’ and nurses’ jobs, hundreds of ward closures, and the destruction of an integrated health service.   The tripling of tuition fees to £9,000 and abolition of £30 a week educational maintenance allowances will massively discriminate against potential students from poorer families.   The housing benefit cutbacks will hit a million families and will force the exodus of a quarter of amillion from their homes.   The local government cuts will hit the poorest towns and cities hardest like Manchester, Rochdale and Oldham, whilst letting off rich areas like Surrey almost scot-free.   Police numbers on the beat are being shredded by over 10,000.

All this is grotesquely unjust, but alone it won’t win the argument if the public continues to think Labour caused the mess by grossly overspending.   But Labour didn’t: we have to tell the facts over and over again.   In 2007, just before the bankers’ crash, IMF figures show UK debt as a proportion of GDP below that of France, Germany, US, Japan, and even Switzerland.   And as for over-spending, British Government spending in 2007 as a proportion of GDP was lower than that in France, Germany, Netherlands, Norway and Sweden.

We also have to insist that, contrary to inherited Labour policy of halving the deficit by spending cuts over 4 years, there are much better and more productive alternatives that are being ignored.   They should focus on the economic growth dividend (the £50bn the Government will earn from economic growth over the next 4 years if their own growth forecasts are correct), a substantial super-tax on the 1-2% hyper-rich whose wealth has quadrupled over the last decade, and a major job-creation programme in infrastructure, housebuilding, and the new green digital economy to get the unemployed off benefits and into work.   Get that message embedded as the alternative to endless Tory spending cuts and the whole political climate will be transformed.

One Comment

  1. Carol Wilcox says:

    The best way to get at the super-rich is to tax their land. Less than 1% own 70%. 1200 families own a high proportion. The owners of £multimillion mansions pay £3000 pa council tax – that’s it if they don’t move. We should collect ALL land rent for public benefit. Basic economics shows that this is a no-brainer. Only vested interests stop this being enacted. Someone please remind EdM – we told him all about it when he was chair of the treasury advisers.

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