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, March 17, 2008

On Hutton

My response to John Hutton's Progress lecture here:



Blogger Merseymike said...

I'd say that Hutton's speech was simply not reflective of any sort of centre-left idea, but would have been more appropriately made by a member of the Conservative party. Indeed, there is nothing in either Hutton's speech or Luke's reply which could not be supported by a moderate Tory.

It is this sort of thing which Labour must be seen to clearly abandon.

It simply crosses the boundary of centre left and centre right - and is clearly located within the latter. There is little point in voting Labour whilst people like Hutton still have influence.

6:40 pm, March 17, 2008

Blogger E10 Rifle said...

There's still reasons enough to vote Labour, but both Hutton and Luke are trying to have their cake and eat it if they think there's no connection between the spiralling wealth of the richest and the predicament of the poorest. We should not at all be proud that the carte blanche presented by both the last Tory and this Labour governments to the rich to do basically whatever they want, without even fulfilling such basic obligations as paying a fair rate of tax, has had the knock-on effect of ratcheting up the cost of housing for others less well-off, has meant the denial of a decent wage to too many, has deprived the exchequer of funds that could be spent on making Labour's investments that much more generous and effective.

Rampaging inequality is a corrosive thing for society in all sorts of ways and should at least be reined in. It's shameful that a Labour minister like Hutton doesn't appear to agree.

I'd also like to see some evidence that there's great clamour among working-class voters for the super-rich to be pandered to in this way. And evidence that working-class support for Labour is growing or staying strong as a result of this sort of stuff.

7:07 pm, March 17, 2008

Blogger Southpaw Grammar said...

Hey Luke,

I left a comment on the progress post, needless to say i dont agree with you or john hutton.


A quick question, something which Merseymike and e10 rifle are spot on about...

Do you believe there is any link between poverty and inequality?

9:55 pm, March 17, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...


Do you actually believe that nonsense?

There is a grain of truth and sense behind the argument - aspiration and entrepreneurship are not bad things per se (in fact I'm convinced that Britain needs to be more entrepreneurial, after all without it what is left: big corporates and the state!?!).

However, it is not a good thing to allow so much wealth to accumulate in the hands of so few - it is the road of a deeply divided US style society and all the terrible implications.

Party politically you are off-base as well. There is a huge groundswell of middle-class opinion that is deeply disenchanted with the rise of the super-rich and the downgrading (in terms of status) of other professions. It may have terrible implications for the career decisions of the generations coming to the job market.

I suspect the disillusionment is stronger because many in the educated middle classes understand it is all a con; many of these people are snake oil salesmen: not taking more risks, they are not generating wealth for anyone but themselves (unless you believe in trickle down) they are simply lining their pockets and dodging tax to boot.

I fail to see how this world view fits with the objectives of fairness (although this word has used so much it has little meaning) and tackling child poverty.

This is just more evidence that Labour is intellectually bankrupt; an empty vessel meandering towards the next election.

11:30 am, March 18, 2008

Anonymous Rich said...

The facts clearly show that social mobility for the poorest has virtually stopped. It's the worst it has been since the 1970s. If Labour honestly believe that they are helping the disadvantaged then please look at the facts. If you're working class you are now less likely to climb the social ladder, you are more likely to die younger and your children are less likely to fulfill their potential.

This has all happened under this Labour government. You might well come back with the same old child poverty statistics but the reality on the ground is shocking. Working classes are suffering under Labour and the gap between the rich and poor is growing. Making matters worse it's now harder to climb to the middle classes in almost 40 years.

We now have a situation where the lowest paid workers are struggling to meet their monthly bills. They will never be able to buy a house and the ones that have face a very uncertain future. The amount of people being made homeless has gone through the roof in the last 12 months as a result of increased repossessions.

I really get sick of hearing the same old spin from Labour when the truth is entirely different. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that many our ministers have never done a hard days graft in their life.

Having voted Labour all my life I am completely disgusted at how a Labour government has treated its poorest and disadvantaged citizens. Time for change and the sooner the better.

9:45 am, March 19, 2008

Blogger Merseymike said...

But, Rich, unlike you, I do not think that the BNP would be a better choice. The problem is that there doesn't appear to be an obvious alternative with any more appeal.

However, I strongly agree that the situation for the low paid has to be dealt with. The issue is quite simply, taxation. The low paid pay too much of their small income in tax which makes it impossible for them to escape from their situation.

Rather than lauding the scoundrels in the City, Labour shoud:
1. Have a much higher threshold for the paying of any tax at all.
2. Have more tax bands including a 50% rate for any earnings over £100.000
3. Accept the fact that social democracy is about redistribution not sucking up to the rich, and that the trickle down effect does not and has never worked. And that this is not wold eyed leftism but the social democratic tradition of Crosland, Hattersley and Jenkins. Moderate, sensible social democracy.

Hutton would be much happier with Cameron. There may be a tribal link to Labour but there isn't an ounce of ideological commitment to left-of-centre ideas.

11:03 am, March 19, 2008

Anonymous Rich said...

Merseymike, I won't be voting for the BNP at the next general election. I'll vote for the party that will remove Labour.

I refuse to keep supporting a Labour government purely for its name, it's pointless. George Galloway made a very valid point that Labour are so far from their core beliefs. For god sake Labour are opposing the SNP on issues that help ordinary working people. Issues that Labour used to believe in.

I agree the tax threshold for the poorest workers should be increased to £10,000. But Labour have only recently remove the 10% tax rate which means poorer workers are paying for tax.

We should make those that earn more pay more. I would call that fair but Labour have no plans for that at all.

I don't agree with wealth distribution but I do agree that you should make it easier for people on lower incomes by increasing their income. Why not give those earning 15,000 or lower a year free transport to work, higher tax brackets, free dentistry, free nursery care etc etc. Makes more sense than giving handouts.

The trickle down effect never works because people are greedy. We need to make sure that the state helps those on the lowest incomes keep more of their money for living.

We have to face the facts capitalism is finished. This whole idea that wages of the poor have to be kept below the cost of living to curb inflation is madness. I honestly think Brown is off his trolley.

11:41 am, March 19, 2008

Blogger Merseymike said...

Sorry, but I do not think that a Cameron government would be any sort of improvement - it really would be more of the same only with a Blair-lite figure at the helm

12:59 pm, March 19, 2008

Blogger Ravi Gopaul said...

I have been reading the comments on this post with interest. I am not a fan of Hutton, he is probably one of the most fervent Blairites in the cabinet. According to my missus's union newsletter he had humble beginnings; being brought up on benefits and living in council housing (is this true?). This might explain his stance; after all there is nothing wrong in wanting better yourself and for all his faults he has done that. The government should promote better education and support and generation of small businesses more thereby generating more jobs and a stronger economy, there I agree with him. However lauding the rich and accepting they will always find a way out of paying their taxes is just plain wrong and really is a comment I'd expect from a Tory or the CBI.

Not surprisingly I agree with Mike's assertion that we have to redistribute wealth, although Rich does make some good points, especially about the rise of the SNP and the sustainability of modern capitalism. Greed is not good as we are seeing in this credit crisis we are in. If this problem gets worse it will need a government willing to invest public funds to support the poorest rather continuing to subsidise the rich. This is in keeping with Labour tradition, whether our wet Tory New Labour comrades are prepared to do that is another question.

1:06 pm, March 19, 2008

Blogger Inspector Gadget said...

Can Cameron do any worse than Brown and Blair..NO. Labour have been a disaster and we now face years of problems as a result.

You should all be very worried as if our economy starts heading south there really is going to be a shit storm. Public services are going to be cut, there will be huge job losses and there may even have to be tax rises to cover the shortfall.

10:08 pm, March 19, 2008

Blogger Merseymike said...

Yes, Cameron can and will do very much worse.

10:25 pm, March 19, 2008

Anonymous ACLB said...

Luke - your analysis stands up well - Hutton's position is on the whole correct - and is far more relevant to the aspirations of the sorts of working class and lower middle class people that i live and work with, than the alternative.

But I dont get how you can agree with Hutton and yet be such an advocate of Livingstone - who fundamentally disagrees with this analysis - can you imagine Ken, or any of his other fine friends from the outer shores of ultra leftist ideology, agreeing with a single word?

There is going to be an almighty battle for the soul of the party when we lose the next election - and Ken and his mates will be out to recapture the party - they are using you as a foot soldier - so they can get back into city hall which will become the alternative power base within the Labour party. Ken will forget about London and use city hall to fight his wider poltiical battles. Do you really want that to happen?

11:34 am, March 21, 2008


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