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Miliband returns to Labour’s roots – brilliantly

Ed Miliband didn’t need the latest Guardian/ICM poll to tell him Labour is 8 points clear of the Tories in the latest poll., nor the YouGov poll showing that among the crucial ‘squeezed middle’ quarter of the population Labour is now 19% clear (when in 2010 both parties were level with this group). His gut empathy with ordinary people, fed by his travels round the country but mainly reflecting the touch-feeliness of a very sensitive politician, is paying off big time – helped of course by the Cameron-Osborne cabal having the thickest tin ear of any government in modern times.

But that lead could be extended further if he followed it through with some other related proposals. His core plan is already taking clear shape – a Living Wage at the bottom of the income scale, a mansion tax at the top, a tax on bankers’ bonuses to pay for a jobs fund for the million young unemployed, an energy price freeze to help arrest inflation speeding ahead of wages, and a readiness to take on predator capitalism.

He has stopped in its tracks the Blairite approach of consorting with the leaders of capitalism and has begun seriously to take on board the interests of the disadvantaged and impoverished classes victimised by that capitalism. That of course is what Labour is for, but it is so refreshing because it is the first time for 34 years that we now have a Labour leadership with a serious chance of power that is unequivocally committed to a redistribution of income, wealth and power that Labour was founded to bring about.

Some 21% of Britain’s 25 million workers are paid less than the Living Wage which is now calculated at £7.65 per hour outside London and £8.80 in the capital. The jump from the present minimum wage of £6.31 per hour would thus improve weekly pay for people outside London by £50 a week, or £2,500 a year. But Miliband’s Living Wage is at present voluntary.

If it were made mandatory, as many companies and organisations support, it is estimated that 4 million workers, half of them women, would see their pay rise by an extra £2,500 per year and the Treasury would achieve gross savings of about £3.6bn through lower tax credits. But research has shown that employers paying a Living Wage secure a more productive workforce with lower absenteeism and turnover – a win-win-win all round, reversing the Tories’ race to the bottom.

One Comment

  1. Jean Hughes says:

    I joined the Labour party when Ed became leader, but became disallusioned very quickly as nothing seemed to be changing, so I did not renew my membership. If Ed keeps going in this direction, and returning to the roots Labour was built on, I may re join. He needs to start forcing some of the issues raised in this piece. We need Labour, not Tory lite

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