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no to austerity

What should be the 10 pledges that Labour should make to maximize its vote for 7 May 2015? asks Michael Meacher in his latest blog piece.

If you want to know what he says about them, visit his blog but the 10 points can be summed up neatly as:

1. End austerity.

2. Revive British manufacturing.

3. Revive full employment.

4. Introduce the Living Wage, across the whole of the UK.

5. End in-work poverty.

6. Tax excessive wealth.

7. End and reverse privatisations and outsourcing within the NHS.

8. End the ‘Free Schools’ project.

9. End tax evasion.

10. Build more social housing and impose rent controls on private landlords.

Some of these – like the Living Wage, wealth taxes, NHS re-nationalisation, ending Free Schools and the social housing plans – are already Labour policies, built into the party’s plans for government following the general election on May 7 next year.

All of them follow the rough outline of the problems facing the UK that Ed Miliband sketched out in 2012 or 2013: That the decline in living standards must be reverse; that the economy must be properly re-balanced to create a fairer and more equal society (David Cameron and George Osborne lied when they claimed they were going to achieve this; they never intended to do anything of the kind); and that the tax system must be overhauled to ensure that, in a tough economic climate, everybody pays their fair share into the Treasury, and everybody receives their fair share in return. We have seen, recently, how the poorest pay the most in taxes and receive the least in return, thanks to the machinations of the Tories and Liberal Democrats; this proposes a restoration of a fairer society.

This blog is often criticised for defending the Labour Party above all else, or in the face of the facts about it. A commenter did so only today, in fact (Boxing Day).

But here’s the thing: UKIP has turned the European Union into its great enemy, claiming that leaving the EU will make everything all right. Living standards will not improve one iota as a direct result of such a move; in fact they’ll probably decline.

If you’re in Scotland, the nationalists have turned Westminster into their great enemy, claiming that leaving the UK will make everything all right. Can you guess what effect that would have on living standards? None – or more decline; they lost a referendum about it but still they persist.

The Conservative Party has turned the Welfare State into the enemy, claiming that cutting public spending on the benefits that help keep many people alive and well will make everything all right. That argument doesn’t even stand up to the most superficial examination yet still they make it. Perhaps they want to discover if we really are gullible enough to accept it.

Labour is the only party to have correctly identified the real problems facing the country, and to be actively seeking real solutions, it seems.

But is Michael Meacher proposing the right solutions? Is Ed Miliband?

Let’s have your opinions (but please support them with some reasoning; we laugh at unsupported, bald statements here).

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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