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Posts Tagged ‘New Labour’

Whilst I was driving home from University in Nottingham, I drove down the Aston Expressway into Birmingham. For those that haven’t driven on this piece of road, it is a three lane duel carriageway which has a central lane which changes direction based on the direction of heaviest flowing traffic. It looks like this:

At the time I was thinking about this quote from Nye Bevan:

We know what happens to people who stay in the middle of the road. They get run down.

 

I was thinking about this for about 10 minutes, and I realised that in Bevan’s time, this was most probably true. The world was a different place, with monumental struggles between democracy and fascism, and between communism and capitalism. If you were in the middle of one of those conflicts, then you would most likely be run down by an oncoming tank.

Today, politics is quite a different environment. Yes, much of the process has not changed, but there are no longer these large differences in ideology.

Anyway – Whilst I was driving down the Aston Expressway, I realised that I was, intact, driving along the perfect analogy for modern day politics. There are three lanes of traffic to the left, and there are three to the right. There is one in the middle, which is only active when the others are particularly busy. From time to time, it changes direction, but there is always traffic on it.

British politics is therefore much like the A38. Labour and the Conservatives will always enjoy around 30% of the vote each.

There will always be a Lib Dem wearing sandals, weaving in and out of the traffic, radically changing direction all the time.

There is UKIP, or the man standing in the tweed jacket on the wrong side of the road, shouting at the traffic to turn back.

Then there is the centre ground, which is where the 10% that can win you an election reside. They may change direction from time to time, but if you can be pointing in the same direction as them, come election day, they will vote with you and will win you an election.

It is the centre ground that Labour, and the Left needs to occupy to win elections. 

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Tony Blair pays tribute to Philip Gould, “a constant advocate for the British people”

Credit/Office of Tony Blair

Former Prime Minister Tony Blair said:

Philip was such a huge part of the renaissance of the Labour Party. To me he was my guide and mentor, a wise head, a brilliant mind, and a total rock when a storm was raging.

“He became indispensable. He was always a constant advocate for the British people, their hopes and anxieties. So his political contribution was immense.

“But then as his illness gripped him, he became something more. In facing death, he grew emotionally and spiritually into this remarkable witness to life’s meaning and purpose. No one who saw him in those last months was unchanged by him. And the bond between him and his wonderful family was a joy to see.

“I feel very proud and privileged to have known him and to have been his friend.”

Alistair Campbell has also written a moving tribute to Philip Gould.

RIP

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320,000 people, or the top 1% of earners pay half of their over £150,000 income to the Treasury. Many of these people are wealthy enough that they can afford measures to legally avoid tax, or even take their bank accounts offshore.

The 50p rate of tax does not work for two reasons.

Firstly, if as the IFS reports, the top rate of tax is causing a £500m net loss to the UK Treasury.

Tax payers money, and money from those earning less than a tenth of the top rate threshold, is spent on enforcing the 50p rate of tax.

That is a potential half a billion pound loss to the Treasury.

£500m that could be spent on teachers, doctors and nurses. Money that could be spent on Sure Start, Building Schools for the Future, or a cut in VAT to help hard working families.

Secondly – The other 99% of people aspire to be part of that 1%.The 50p rate of tax is a disincentive to those who seek to grow their small business, create jobs and train young people.

Cutting the top rate of tax would stimulate growth amongst wealth creators in Britain. Profit can be a powerful motivator, and a potent tool for helping the poorest in society especially where both owner and worker receive a fair deal.

In 1997, the New Labour manifesto pledged that: “There will be no increase in the basic or top rates of income tax”.

This is a pledge that should be made by Labour once again.

By saying that Labour would not raise income tax once again, we would avoid the gesture politics that plagued the Party in the 1980s.

Other measures which are economically efficient, and raise more money for the Treasury should instead be considered. An increase in inheritance tax, combined with an increase of the threshold or a land value tax which cannot be avoided. Both of these measures would ensure that Britain remains competitive in the global economy.

Liberal Democrat President, Tim Farron said this to the Liberal Democrat Conference in Birmingham:

“Are we all in this together? Well, not if we give tax cuts to the rich!

“At a time when 90% of the country is struggling to pay the rent or mortgage, giving a 10p tax cut to those who need it the least, would not just be economically witless, it would be morally repugnant.

“Now of course, all income tax is temporary!

“Income tax was introduced as a temporary measure in 1798 during the Napoleonic wars.

“So my solemn promise to you is that we will get rid of this temporary measure, as soon as we stop falling out with the French.”

Supporting symbolic measures such as the 50p rate, which are economically inefficient and harm the UK economy is a shared by many in the Labour Party, and it is in some ways appealing.

It is not realistic.

If Labour is to prove, as in 1997, that we understand aspiration and are serious about promoting growth and jobs, and providing opportunities for all in society, we should pledge to abolish the 50p rate of tax.

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