A blog by Luke Akehurst about politics, elections, and the Labour Party - With subtitles for the Hard of Left. Just for the record: all the views expressed here are entirely personal and do not necessarily represent the positions of any organisations I am a member of.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Agreeing with Jackie Ashley

I think I agree with Jackie Ashley's article today in the Guardian, summarised as "It's not a big idea but the old ideas that Brown needs now. More help for the poor is what we want to hear. The day this stops being a Labour issue is the day that the party is finished."

We do need new ideas - probably lots of small ones - to respond to the way society is changing.

But I don't think we lack a "big idea". The core vision of what a Labour Government should be about is adequately described in one sentence on the recruitment page of the Party website.

"Our goals are full employment; an end to child poverty; strong public services; and to continue tackling crime and anti-social behaviour."

What I'd like to see between now and the next election are one or two major policy initiatives on poverty - of a scale comparable to the Minimum Wage - that will be so obviously right that no Tory government would dare to undo them, that would make such a difference to the lives of the people affected that they won't even consider voting for another party, that will send our members out to knock on doors with a spring in their steps because the public know we are the good guys in politics, and that will mean that even if we lose the next election, in 50 years time people will still be remembering - like they do with Attlee's creation of the NHS - the good this government did.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ho. Ho. Bloody Ho.

Just go right ahead on to the doorsteps with a "spring in your step" buoyed by your "vision thing" and see what happens.

US lot are paying a shed load of taxes for crappy health and education, you're up to to ears in sleaze, you've got a leader incapable of a smile ...

On that doorstep, bring Vaseline. You're going to get fucked up the arse.

11:42 am, February 04, 2008

Anonymous Rich said...

I agree with helping the poorest and Labour were elected to do just that.

Unfortunately they have failed as real poverty has got a lot worse and social mobility has virtually stopped.

Labour have become masters of manipulating data rather than good at actually delivering change. Child poverty is a classic example of that failure. Poverty should not be measured like this.

Gordon will struggle to deliver any real change as he simply won't have the budget to do so. Unemployment is going to increase dramitically in the next two years with 200,000 jobs at risk in retail alone.

12:04 pm, February 04, 2008

Blogger Doctor Dunc said...

I used to enjoy reading the debates on this blog, but there's a lot of really unimaginative (and sometimes down-right offensive) comments now. It should be possible to exchange very different views and opinions - including some irreverence and even a bit of mirth-fuelled ad hominem - without scraping the bottom of the barrel.

Luke - I agree with you. I suppose the big question is what that big policy should be, and there I guess we might disagree... The problem with having been in power for ten years (and it's obviously hugely outweighed by the benefits of having been in power for ten years) is that increasingly new ideas are re-hashes of old ideas, or they're extensions of old ideas, or they're contradictory to old ideas. All of which is problematic. Therefore, extending the minimum wage to young workers - though actually massive - would not be thought of as new in quite the way the minimum wage was to begin with (neither would a substantial increase in the minimum wage). Social housing could well prove to be the area where the big policy comes in. There's a massive case for that.

4:10 pm, February 04, 2008

Blogger Chris Paul said...

The vision statement you quote Luke could be that of the ruling party in various countries at various times. Fascist Italy? Nazi Germany? Stalin's Russia?

Sure, they all wanted the trains running on time and the roads in good order too, Lebensraum even, but they wanted full employment, no child poverty etc.

Tories aren't actually for bad public services or child poverty or mass unemployment for that matter.

There needs to be more information. By what means will these goods be achieved? Who will be in control? Are we interested in Equality? Fairness? Justice? Freedom?

Perhaps I'll come back with some big small ideas or small big ideas later. But fundamentally the consensus managerial targets are not enough.

4:58 pm, February 04, 2008

Anonymous Rich said...

If you extend the min wage to young workers then you will reduce the amount of apprenticeship schemes on offer. The only way around would be to have apprenticeship opt out but then I can see large companies such as McDonalds inventing apprenticeships to get around the paying for the min wage.

Our young lads start on about £50.00 per week. But they get training worth thousands, tools, uniform and within twelve months all are earning in excess of £80.00a day. Withing 4 years they are earning £120.00 - £200.00 per day.

So you have to be very careful with young peoples money. But in general I do agree there are too many young people being paid peanuts for unskilled work with no training.

5:04 pm, February 04, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

'Tories aren't actually for bad public services or child poverty or mass unemployment for that matter.'

Um, they are actually.

Poor public services - to build support for privatising/reforming them.

Child poverty - as defined by this Government would be the inevitable result of a lower tax/more unequal society.

Mass unemployment - depends on your definition but keeps labour costs low and reduces the power of organised labour. Also tends to increase resentment of immigrant groups.

5:54 pm, February 04, 2008

Blogger donpaskini said...

Agree completely with this.

For a start, we should lift a million kids (and their families) out of poverty through increases in child benefit and child tax credit as per the End Child Poverty campaign's message - not only does this meet the tests that you set out, but also putting money in the pockets of poor families makes sound economic sense to help our economy through the hard times ahead.

Thinking more radically, how about the government making childcare free (e.g. by giving families a tax cut equal to the amount they spend on childcare each year)? It would be popular, would make it easier for parents who want to work but can't afford to and so on. The people it helps most are those on low incomes and families with disabled children, but there are a lot of middle class families as well who would benefit (quite similar to the NHS in that respect).

6:34 pm, February 04, 2008

Anonymous tim f said...

Free childcare would be an incredible commitment that a future Tory government would find it very difficult to undo. It would also be the complete opposite of Cameron's policy of giving financial incentives to married couples well-off enough for one parent to stay at home.

I happen to think raising the education participation age to 18 will be one of those things that this government is remembered for decades later, like the creation of the NHS. But it's not something we will win a lot of support on right now, unlike free childcare.

9:07 pm, February 04, 2008

Anonymous Rich said...

Benefits are not the way to help kids out of poverty, what they need are parents that are bringing home a living wage. You are not going to get this while working people are being denied the opportunity to earn good wages.

I must point out that the min wage is not a living wage. A living wage is around £10.00 per hour anything less then you're into poverty.

Labour are creating a generation of welfare dependants that are of no use to anyone. It's costing the British tax payer billions through tax credits and is in a way a subsidy for poor paying employers.

Labour are void of ideas and we are back wealth distribution through taxation. Surely it would be better to give workers more rights to fight for a better deal and to put a stop to cheap imported labour.

10:16 pm, February 04, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

This vision thing of yours is really getting to the nation's sweet spot.

Latest monthly Populous poll puts Labour on 31% against Tories on 40%.

More socialism, red in tooth and claw, is quite clearly needed.

12:43 am, February 05, 2008

Blogger Miller 2.0 said...

I'll join you there.

I think that we should be against all poverty, and also move towards less concentration of wealth generally.

1:33 am, February 05, 2008

Anonymous elrchii said...

Miller 2.0

My belief if hard work for an honest pay packet. No one should be working and in poverty.

A key issue is housing and the running costs of a home. If you can get the price of housing to reflect true earnings then that is a big step to reducing poverty.

We also have to take on the big companies that pay the min wage yet every year announce huge profits.

Another factor is getting training to the right people. Many people are stuck in crap jobs and need help with skills etc. There is currently a shortage of PAT testing engineers...it takes less than 6 months to train one and costs a little as £260.00.

But the reality is that someone still has to clean our homes and offices, people will still be needed to stack shelves, we will still need care assistants in care homes. So it's important that these people get paid well for what they do.

10:07 am, February 05, 2008

Blogger Doctor Dunc said...

Free childcare - roll with that one!

10:49 am, February 05, 2008

Blogger Merseymike said...

I think the problem is that the Tories may also come up with small ideas - and that Brown needs to come up with things the Tories won't agree to.

But is there so much of a divide any more that the Tories would refuse to trim their sails - given that Brown will not consider anything openly redistributive, and that messages such as 'work or you get thrown out of your council house' might tend to make more impact.....(whoever publicised that idea needs shooting - I'm sure its related to area-based social exclusion but it hasn't come over that way)

3:06 pm, February 05, 2008

Blogger Ravi Gopaul said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

3:54 pm, February 05, 2008

Blogger Ravi Gopaul said...

In the Guardian last week Charles Clark wrote an article outlining basically what we are all saying here.

I agree with Mike we need to do something the Tories won't touch yet have public appeal, what about renationalising the commidities or the rail and bus networks? Or even halting the increasing privitisation of our NHS and Civil Service.

By placing ourselves on a moderate socialist (or if you like socially democratic) ticket (as the SNP are doing in Scotland) we can out manouver the increasingly socially liberal Tories and unite the party at the sametime! Also going on this course nationally might help us win back Scotland and increase our presence in the Welsh assembly.

3:55 pm, February 05, 2008

Anonymous Rich said...

Who did come up with the idea of work or get thrown out of your council house?

Sounds dreadful, what on earth has work go to do with having a council house.

Maybe the person who thought of this should think about how many homeless this would create.

I dislike the constant attack on the unemployed. What long term out of work need is skills related training.

4:40 pm, February 05, 2008

Blogger Ravi Gopaul said...

I think it was Caroline Flint who said it, and yes it is a terrible idea.

4:58 pm, February 05, 2008

Blogger Doctor Dunc said...

Yes, it is rather difficult to promote Luke's big idea that we do something big on poverty while Caroline Flint suggests making the unemployed homeless might be the next big idea. Let's hope she doesn't hang about.

8:48 pm, February 05, 2008

Anonymous Rich said...

NuLabour = Very Big Danger.

9:53 pm, February 05, 2008

Anonymous observer's friend said...

"Our goals are full employment; an end to child poverty; strong public services; and to continue tackling crime and anti-social behaviour."

Chris Paul said...

The vision statement you quote Luke could be that of the ruling party in various countries at various times. Fascist Italy? Nazi Germany? Stalin's Russia?

Sure, they all wanted the trains running on time and the roads in good order too, Lebensraum even, but they wanted full employment, no child poverty etc.

I agree with Chris Paul's comments. In fact Labour's attitude towards the thousands of us disabled people who are unable to work (and are therefore committed to a lifetime of demeaning poverty) isn't that far removed from the attitude of the German Nazi SS slogan: "Arbeit macht frei". Labour is apparently content to see us freeze to death and starve to death, albeit at a slower rate than the SS.

Labour makes numerous claims it wants to stop child poverty (but adult poverty is OK, yes?).

Many disabled people who would never find employment anywhere else but at Remploy will soon be destined to a lifetime of unemployment - because the Labour government is closing down many of the Remploy factories.

Labour spin doctors always turn to the introduction of the DDA - but it is unsupported and we have a toothless equality organisation that refuses to take up the cudgel on behalf of disabled people who are discriminated - on a daily basis.

Then there are those of us who cannot work and are thus stigmatized as parasites of the state. We already come low down on the pecking order when it comes to giving out medical care and social care. How soon, I wonder, before Labour brings in euthanasia to quicken up the rate at which it can get rid of us?

4:26 am, February 06, 2008

Blogger Doctor Dunc said...

I'm reading and hearing increasing numbers of concerns like that listed above by 'observers friend' and I think we in the Labour Party need to take it very seriously - there are serious concerns amongst many people with disabilities that they feel marginalised and discriminated against by the government and they are very concerned by the drift of many recent policies. (Caroline Flint's nasty bit of pointless kite flying will have done nothing but add to those concerns). I think we need to do something absolutely concrete and transparent in this area (my worry is that, at the moment, government ministers are much more likely to want to grab headlines kicking people off benefits than do something concrete to help people with disabilities and long-term sickness).

8:52 am, February 06, 2008

Anonymous Rich said...

Lets look at the facts, Labour have lost control of the economy and the chances of getting any real social policy through are slim.

Only this morning I've had a meeting with my accountants regarding outstanding debts. The opinion is that there has been a huge growth of companies getting into trouble and the next few years are going to be extremely tough....everyone is talking about a huge recession....except the government.

Full employment in the current economic climate looks impossible and tax increases will only make matters worse.

In terms of Browns dream it's all over unless he can hold onto power after 2009. I think Brown has actually started to believe his own spin and honestly thought house prices and a debt driven service sector economy would go on forever.

2008 is going to be challenging and in terms of government it will probably mean reduced spending and public sector job cuts.

12:06 pm, February 06, 2008

Blogger Ravi Gopaul said...

Sadly I agree with Rich on this one, the people in the firing line are likely to be AO or AA grade civil servants (like my missus)and as for the police getting their pay raises...

With a global ressession on the cards I can't see us moving any progressive policies forward, but I live in hope!

1:36 pm, February 06, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Come and submit your small or big ideas (or even your vision statement if you're brave) here

Shape the Party of European Socialists Manifesto in London!

Every major issue (and solution) has global reach and every global issue has local impact. Only by making it more relevant to people's everyday lives can we develop a more social and democratic Europe. That's why PES Activists and Compass Youth want to make connections that will keep the PES in touch with the most dynamic and innovative thinking of local activists. You are the eyes and ears of your communities so come and join the debate with our amazing line-up of speakers and feed in your ideas and opinions. We will also launch our EU Citizens for London campaign as part of this series of debates.

Check out the full series of events http://www.lme-lse.org.uk/blog/?p=51

4:00 pm, February 15, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don’t believe one optimistic word from any public figure about the economy or humanity in general. They are all part of the problem. Its like a game of Monopoly. In America, the richest 1% now hold 1/2 OF ALL UNITED STATES WEALTH. Unlike 'lesser' estimates, this includes all stocks, bonds, cash, and material assets held by America's richest 1%. Even that filthy pig Oprah acknowledged that it was at about 50% in 2006. Naturally, she put her own 'humanitarian' spin on it. Calling attention to her own 'good will'. WHAT A DISGUSTING HYPOCRITE SLOB. THE RICHEST 1% HAVE LITERALLY MADE WORLD PROSPERITY ABSOLUTELY IMPOSSIBLE. Don't fall for all of their 'humanitarian' CRAP. ITS A SHAM. THESE PEOPLE ARE CAUSING THE SAME PROBLEMS THEY PRETEND TO CARE ABOUT. Ask any professor of economics. Money does not grow on trees. The government can't just print up more on a whim. At any given time, there is a relative limit to the wealth within ANY economy of ANY size. So when too much wealth accumulates at the top, the middle class slip further into debt and the lower class further into poverty. A similar rule applies worldwide. The world's richest 1% now own over 40% of ALL WORLD WEALTH. This is EVEN AFTER you account for all of this ‘good will’ ‘humanitarian’ BS from celebrities and executives. ITS A SHAM. As they get richer and richer, less wealth is left circulating beneath them. This is the single greatest underlying cause for the current US recession. The middle class can no longer afford to sustain their share of the economy. Their wealth has been gradually transfered to the richest 1%. One way or another, we suffer because of their incredible greed. We are talking about TRILLIONS of dollars. Transfered FROM US TO THEM. Over a period of about 27 years. Thats Reaganomics for you. The wealth does not 'trickle down' as we were told it would. It just accumulates at the top. Shrinking the middle class and expanding the lower class. Causing a domino effect of socio-economic problems. But the rich will never stop. They will never settle for a reasonable share of ANYTHING. They will do whatever it takes to get even richer. Leaving even less of the pie for the other 99% of us to share. At the same time, they throw back a few tax deductable crumbs and call themselves 'humanitarians'. IT CAN'T WORK THIS WAY. This is going to end just like a game of Monopoly. The current US depression will drag on for years and lead into the worst US depression of all time. The richest 1% will live like royalty while the rest of us fight over jobs, food, and gasoline. Crime, poverty, and suicide will skyrocket. So don’t fall for all of this PR CRAP from Hollywood, Pro Sports, and Wall Street PIGS. ITS A SHAM. Remember: They are filthy rich EVEN AFTER their tax deductable contributions. Greedy pigs. Now, we are headed for the worst economic and cultural crisis of all time. SEND A “THANK YOU” NOTE TO YOUR FAVORITE MILLIONAIRE. ITS THEIR FAULT. I’m not discounting other factors like China, sub-prime, or gas prices. But all of those factors combined still pale in comparison to that HUGE transfer of wealth to the rich. Anyway, those other factors are all related and further aggrivated because of GREED. If it weren’t for the OBSCENE distribution of wealth within our country, there never would have been such a market for sub-prime to begin with. Which by the way, was another trick whipped up by greedy bankers and executives. IT MAKES THEM RICHER. The credit industry has been ENDORSED by people like Oprah, Ellen, Dr Phil, and many other celebrities. IT MAKES THEM RICHER. So don’t fall for their ‘humanitarian’ BS. ITS A SHAM. NOTHING BUT TAX DEDUCTABLE PR CRAP. Bottom line: The richest 1% will soon tank the largest economy in the world. It will be like nothing we’ve ever seen before. and thats just the beginning. Greed will eventually tank every major economy in the world. Causing millions to suffer and die. Oprah, Angelina, Brad, Bono, and Bill are not part of the solution. They are part of the problem. EXTREME WEALTH HAS MADE WORLD PROSPERITY ABSOLUTELY IMPOSSIBLE. WITHOUT WORLD PROSPERITY, THERE WILL NEVER BE WORLD PEACE OR ANYTHING EVEN CLOSE. GREED KILLS. IT WILL BE OUR DOWNFALL. Of course, the rich will throw a fit and call me a madman. Of course, their ignorant fans will do the same. You have to expect that. But I speak the truth. If you don't believe me, then copy this entry and run it by any professor of economics or socio-economics. Then tell a friend. Call the local radio station. Re-post this entry or put it in your own words. Be one of the first to predict the worst economic and cultural crisis of all time and explain its cause. WE ARE IN BIG TROUBLE.

7:15 pm, February 25, 2008

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