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Has Labour freed itself from fear? It can’t be courageous if it doesn’t

1945_lets_build_quick_bEven Labour’s own supporters are saying it’s time for them to deliver some policies. I agree. And I’m not asking for the sort of thing that promises a VAT reduction on replacement windows. I’m asking for substance. Substance is a tough ask. The Guardian is interpreting it as relating to economics and of course it does, but only, I’d suggest in part.

Substance means tackling the issues of real concern and they’re deeper than froth this time. When Clinton reckoned all elections ‘were about the economy, stupid’ the world was very different from the one we live in now. Economics was about growth and growth was about having more and the winner was the person who the voter thought could deliver the most more.

Post 2008, and especially post 2010, I think that has changed. I think something I have argued since 2008 is now key, and tat is delivering freedom from fear. People are frightened, of being jobless, homeless, sick, elderly and just destitute. Morrisons supposedly think one third of their customers are one pay check from bankruptcy. What people fear is that the safety net that made life possible has gone

Of course people turn that fear on others: the EU, immigrants, social security claimants and more. But that’s what frightened people always do. That does not mean those people are at fault or that they need be blamed by politicians because that fear is the symptom of the problem and not its cause.

The cause is the collapse of security and with it the demise of hope.

The offer that has to be made is of security once more.

So there have to be homes. New ones. And affordable ones. Where people want them.

The NHS has to be guaranteed, and be taken back from those who undermine it.

Schools have to be there – provided by the state, not Govian empires.

Pensions must be paid.

But most of all people must know they will survive if through no fault of their own they cannot work – and most people do not work through no fault of their own. And that means that the mechanisms of state used to oppress those not working must be removed.

And of course there has to be work. But commit to housing, to ensuing that the state provides for the young, the sick and the elderly, and to investing in the infrastructure we need and the change will happen.

And where does the money come from? Increases in corporation tax because the cuts have not worked. Increased wealth taxes, because they can and must deliver to reduce inequality. From beating the tax gap which could deliver tens of billions of done properly. From Green QE of £20 billion a year. From requiring pension funds to invest £20 million a year in new job creating projects in exchange for the £40 million of tax relief they get each year.

So, yes it can be done. The circle can be squared. This is entirely plausible. But it requires politicians who have themselves freed themselves of fear to deliver it. And that’s the problem. I’m not sure we have them.


  1. Cathy Wood says:

    Would add:
    Make the living wage mandatory (transferring costs from public to prvate sector)
    Take railways back into public ownership as franchises end
    Get rid of ATOS
    Introduce LV tax
    End right to buy – forever

  2. eric clyne says:

    So, you think the present capitalist class can be trusted with the entire responsibility for investment in industry and wealth creation and its Labour’s job to skim and spend? Really?

    The capitalist class are failing to invest.

    The UK needs a National Investment Bank putting around £10 billion per year into medium and high-tech manufacturing. One aim should be import substitution. As a country we are sinking into international debt.

    These investments (not loans) should be held in trust in a Sovereign Wealth Fund so that in the longer term, profits, taxation and dividends can help pay for pensions and welfare.

    One of the greatest fears of the Labour leadership is the left pressing for spend, spend, spend while never talking about wealth creation.

    We wanna spend it? We gotta earn it.

    There has to be more to the democratic left than demanding more spending. We need a programme of investment.

  3. Robert says:

    Getting rid of ATOS and then ending up with another company doing the same is not the answer, the answer is a real medical not this pretend laughable thing that ignores missing legs and tells people a wheelchair is as good as legs look at the gold medals people win.

    I’m afraid banks now rule and when a bank shouted Blair answered yes sir what can I do for you, remember me when I leave power.

    Investment bank is needed to help small companies.

  4. David Ellis says:

    Deferring to the economy (and a capitalist economy at that) the right of workers to work is an abdication of responsibility and an act of gross political cowardice of the type you apparently bewail. There must be full employment Keynesian economic boom or no Keynesian economic boom. That means a Labour governnment introducing a regime of full-employment by which the available productive work is shared and each is paid the minimum of a trade union living wage. All school and college leavers and unemployed who cannot find their own job must be bought into the workforce to participate alongside everybody else.

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