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Labour is only half-right: we should shout louder on living standards

Ed Miliband at TUC rallyLabour’s at least half right to explode the Tory economy bubble by exclaiming: Recovery? What recovery?

OK for bankers’ bonuses, OK for City private equity, OK for investors’ share indices, OK for Treasury austerity enthusiasts. Yes, fine for the top 1% – that’s 300,000 individuals out of the UK’s 40 million adults. But what about the other 99% whose average income in real terms has fallen 5.5% since the 2008-9 crash?

That’s a reduction of £1,250 a year for the average family. Worse, it’s not all over. Some of the most draconian measures in Osborne’s entire package are back-end-loaded, i.e. they will hit families hardest in 2014-18.

Unemployment is still stuck around 2.5 million, and youth unemployment among 18-24 year olds is still rising at over 19%. Even of those in work, a significant number are now part-time workers so that the number of whole-time-equivalent employed persons is actually steadily falling. There are now over 900,000 persons who have been out of work for more than a year. And while inflation has marginally crept down to 2.7% on the latest figures, that is still more than twice the rise in pay which is still pegged back at 1.1% a year. Some recovery.

But all this still has to be put into context, which is why Labour is only half right. What Labour is still failing to say, and to shout out loud as Andy Burnham so rightly put it, is that it need not have been like this at all. The deep recession was caused by the bankers’ bail-out, not at all by Labour over-spending, yet the super-rich (including especially the bankers) were never made to pay the price of their own folly, and instead the Tory political machine and Tory press managed to fix the blame on Labour and thus to justify hitting the Labour and trade union heartlands with a decade of cuts savagery unprecedented for more than a century.

If the assets held by the top tenth in the country (amounting to some £4.5 trillion) had, against the background of the national crisis, been charged to capital gains tax at the current rate of 28%, it could have paid off the entire national debt without any pay cuts, job losses, housing benefit caps, bedroom taxes and all the rest for the victims of the bankers’ ramp. Wouldn’t that have been fairer?

But there’s one other thing Labour can and should do to drive the point home and to mobilise the population behind the party. Not only should MPs not get an 11% rise in pay as recommended by IPSA, they should submit to the same cuts as the rest of the electorate while this crisis lasts: a 5.5% cut in pay which only rises when the nation’s average rises.

3 Comments

  1. Rob the cripple says:

    So let Labour in and the public sector will be held to 1% pay risers.

    I do not know I was in labour for many a years, it was difficult sometimes to find a reason to vote Labour but I did because I was brought up working class.

    But today look at labour front bench I do not trust it and I do not Trust Miliband, and lets be clear about this it’s about trust now plain and simple.

    yes the recovery is tiny sadly as small as it is it’s a recovery.

    We all know Labour were praying the recovery did not happen all Miliband had to do was wait get elected.

    Now of course he has to counter the Tories he has to state what he will do if he does not he’s dead in the water, labour is now in the same mess the Tories were after Thatcher .

    So it is all down to Miliband explaining to people why is he attacking the sick the disabled the poor and the unemployed, when it was his party that allowed millions into the country and they did not build any housing for them..

    Banking crises ok not Labour fault well not totally, but the housing market PFI and of course the massive waste of IT that is down to Labour also the attack on people like me.

  2. Redshift says:

    Surely the best way to get them to not do the payrise is for Ed to announce that all Labour MPs will be donating the full amount of their payrise into a fund to help Labour win Coalition-held marginal seats at the next general election?

  3. Rob the cripple says:

    I suspect when they get the pay rise and they state they are entitled to it, my Union will have little choice but to bring in legislation for us to vote on disaffiliation.

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