Don’t believe the critics – Labour’s plans are good for Britain

What do you think of the Labour Party conference this year? It’s a loaded question and one that is bound to elicit loaded answers.

The propaganda machines of the other parties have been working overtime to discredit Her Majesty’s Opposition, with Scottish people who wanted independence (the minority, let’s remember) claiming Labour lied to them, UKIP supporters adamant that the party is full of child abusers (based on a BNP propaganda website, which should tell anyone with a brain all they need to know), and of course the Tories doing what they usually do – blaming all the country’s problems on the last Labour government while stealing the family silver.

You never hear ‘No’ voters saying Labour lied, do you? You never see UKIP supporters complaining about racism in their own party. You never see Tories calling for genuine reform that helps the 99 per cent, rather than the tiny minority that they represent.

So let’s look at what Labour is proposing. Let’s make a list – because, you know what? Mrs Mike was watching coverage of the conference yesterday, and even she tried to tell Yr Obdt Srvt that Labour wouldn’t keep its promises. If we have a list, we’ll be able to check the promises against what they do, after a Labour win next May.

So let’s see what Ed Miliband promised. He outlined six “national goals”, and he called for 10 years in which to hit them. You may very well ask: Has he been reading Vox Political? Recent comments questioning Labour’s intentions have been answered with the simple observation that it takes time to change the direction in which a country is travelling (or in the UK’s case, lurching), and Miliband’s words echo that sentiment. He can’t do everything in one day. It does take time. Let’s look at those goals.

They were:

Halve the number of people in low pay by 2025, raising the minimum wage by £60 a week or more than £3,000 a year.

Ensure that the wages of working people grow with the economy (something that is glaringly missing from the Conservatives’ ‘economic recovery’, meaning that – for the vast majority of us – it isn’t a recovery at all). Miliband said: “What’s amazing… is that statement, that goal is even controversial. It used to be taken for granted in our country that’s what would happen.” He’s right – look at today’s article from Flip Chart Fairy Tales that Vox Political re-published.

Create one million jobs in the green economy – neglected by the Conservatives – by 2025, committing to take all the carbon out of electricity by 2030; start a Green Investment Bank; devolve powers to communities to insulate five million homes by 2025, saving energy and heating costs

By 2025, ensure that as many young people will be leaving school or college to go on to an apprenticeship as currently go to university. It really is as though he’s been reading Vox Political. A long-standing gripe of this blog is that governments have concentrated on academic achievement while neglecting the education of people who have more practical aptitudes. This is a very welcome change.

By 2025, be building as many homes as we need, doubling the number of first-time buyers in the UK. Vox Political would prefer to see far more social housing; perhaps this will come as well but it wasn’t part of Miliband’s promise. Nevertheless, the pledge to build 500,000 new homes should make housing more affordable again for people who aren’t spectacularly wealthy or don’t have wealthy family members.

Finally, to create a world-class 21st century health and care service, funded by a clampdown on tax avoidance including tax loopholes by hedge funds that will raise more than £1 billion, proceeds from a mansion tax on homes above £2 million, and money from tobacco companies. Total: £2.5 billion (per annum, it seems). Some have said this is not enough when the NHS is facing a £20 billion shortfall but we must remember that this deficit only appeared recently and could be the result of Tory scaremongering, or the private companies introduced by the Tories leeching money out of the system to fatten their shareholders. More details were due from Andy Burnham today (Wednesday).

Oh yes, you see Andrew Lansley’s hated – Yr Obdt Srvt really cannot find the words to show how vile this diseased piece of legislation really is – Health and Social Care Act will be repealed by a Labour government. If you don’t care about any of the other measures, you should vote Labour for that reason alone.

So those are his six goals. But what’s this?

“It is time we complete the unfinished business of reform of the House of Lords so we truly have a Senate of the nations and regions.” Considering the way Cameron has been packing it with Tory donors, rather than people of any expertise (as it is intended to contain) this can only be a good thing.

“And it is time to devolve power in England.” What a blow against the Tories who have been claiming Labour want to delay or destroy such a process! Miliband is talking about “devolving power to local government, bringing power closer to people right across England”. That seems to be an indication that he wouldn’t create a new, expensive English Parliament but would give power back to the current councils – power that has been leeched away from them by centralising Conservatives and the previous, neoliberal, incarnation of Labour.

There’s more. He wants constitutional reform. But unlike David Cameron, who wants to impose changes from above, so that they only benefit people who are already rich and powerful, Miliband wants to make it a matter of public discussion. Those who can’t be bothered to take part will only have themselves to blame if they don’t get what they want.

There were promises on foreign policy – to stand up for the UK in Europe, in contrast to Cameron’s strategy which Miliband blasted: “When David Cameron comes calling, people don’t think he’s calling about the problems of Britain or the problems of Europe. They think he’s calling about the problems of the Conservative Party. And here’s the funny thing… If you’re elected the Chancellor of Germany or the Prime Minister of Italy or the President of France, you don’t really think you were elected to solve the problems of the Conservative Party.”

More solid was the promise to recognise the state of Palestine and actively seek a solution to the problems of that part of the world we might call – in an attempt to be fair – the Holy Land: “I will fight with every fibre of my being to get the two state solution, two states for two people, Israel and a Palestinian state living side by side.” Many detractors have wrongly claimed that Miliband is a Zionist, determined to support the Israeli government’s use of vastly superior firepower to eliminate Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank; they had better think again – and look very hard at David Cameron, whose government has done as little as possible to protest at what has been happening.

And Miliband also said he wanted Labour to fight discrimination against same-sex relationships around the world. That may not seem as important to some people, but in some places it is just as easy to be killed by homophobia as it is to be killed because of your religion. Personally, Yr Obdt Srvt finds same-sex relationships unattractive – but it takes all sorts to make a world.

That makes six more goals! Double the value.

These are all good aims. All of them, if seen through, will be good for the UK.

So there’s your checklist, with 12 – not six – goals on it. If you support Labour next year, you’ll be able to check Miliband’s progress against them and you’ll have a chance – halfway through his 10-year plan – to stop him if he’s not making it happen.

Alternatively, you can say to yourself – as Mrs Mike did last night: “He doesn’t mean it. They’re all the same. It’s not worth voting,” or any of the other things the Tory campaign chief Lynton Crosby would like you to believe, and you can sit on your thumbs at home. That would be a vote for the Conservatives to carry on raping your country and ripping you off.

If Labour win in spite of people like that, then they will still benefit from the changes Miliband wants to introduce, along with the rest of us. If the Conservatives win because of those people, then we will all lose – apart from a miserably small band of super-rich, super-selfish, super-arrogant and entitled exploiters who tell Cameron what to do.

Framed that way, it isn’t really a choice at all, is it?

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16 thoughts on “Don’t believe the critics – Labour’s plans are good for Britain

  1. jaypot2012

    Actually Mike, the “minority” you speak of is 1.6 million – I wouldn’t call that a minority in a lot of ways.
    A hell of a lot of No voters who were Labour voters have switched to SNP, Scottish Greens etc.
    The feeling in the country is that they want Labour out of Scotland along with the ONE tory and FIVE Lib/Dems.
    The SNP are now the third largest political party in the UK and over 17,000 new members have joined since the day after the referendum, with other labour voters going over to the Scottish Greens and the SSP.
    I’m not surprised to see this happen as the results of the referendum came up with the statement from Milliband underneath, saying he was not going along with the other two muppets on the promise of more powers.
    I’m and SNP member, along with my hubby as we are now ex-Labour voters.
    I wouldn’t think that the Independence for our country is over, not by a long chalk.
    This isn’t me being bitter, it’s me seeing and hearing from around me.
    There is a peaceful march tonight for the 45%’s with many others organised throughout the country and many No voters are joining in.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      In comparison with 2.1 million, 1.6 million is most definitely a minority.
      I have yet to hear from a ‘No’ voter who has switched to the other parties. Also, the ‘Yes’ people have been doing a phenomenal amount of stirring since the referendum, generating emotional responses that are disproportionate to what actually happened. Also, membership of defeated parties always goes up in the immediate aftermath.
      The feeling among vocal ‘Yes’ supporters is that they want Labour out. They’re just trying to tell everybody that the rest of Scotland feels the same.
      Miliband is the only Westminster leader who said he is fully supporting the promise of more powers! “No ifs, no buts.” Remember? No? Here’s a video of him saying it: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-29300084
      The fact that you have suggested otherwise undermines everything else in your comment.
      Now I want you to tell us all exactly who told you that Miliband and Labour were against fulfilling the promise of more powers for Scotland.
      David Cameron – he’s the Conservative, remember – is the one who said he wanted to tie the new powers in with something that hadn’t been mentioned before. He’s the villain in this story. Remember him?
      Sorry if this response seems harsh but the facts of the matter have been with us for several days now and it is shocking that people are still trying to come out with the kind of rubbish you just offered us.

  2. Florence

    Well said. This speech is an excellent start for Labour to build their manifesto, and fully support your view that if for nothing else, the promise on health is worth a vote alone. And the rise in income for the lowest paid is simply a no-brainer, especially looking at the flip-chart fairies (FCF) figures looking very similar for the redistribution of 6% of the national wealth from the 1% to the rest of us (Labour – £3000 for the minimum waged, £2600 FCF for every household with redistribution.)

    Tellingly, the FCF figures refer to households, which I assume includes the disabled / un-waged, which if THAT were part of the Labour 10 year end-game would be life-changing for so many, but I guess would a step too far at this time. However, inside the party it may be less controversial to want to add a commitment to the value of long-term benefits as a % of the average wage within the commitment to the low paid. IB and DLA, never lavish by any measure, used to reflect the notion that the recipients would need a replacement income, not a sticking-plaster short term safety net.

    We need to return to a vision for the millions, not the millionaires, and Ed’s speech looked like a good opening salvo..

  3. Stephen Bee

    Just a couple of points Mike..a) Raising £1 bn from a crackdown on tax evaders..is a pebble on the beach compared to recent estimates the Treasury loses £80bn plus EACH year. b) If Cameron signs TTIP before the next election WITHOUT exempting the NHS..Labour can make whatever full of air promises to take the NHS back into public ownership…TTIP would stop that, wouldn’t it?

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      The £80 billion loss is the annual NATIONAL deficit. Miliband was discussing money raised to fund the NHS. Big difference.
      As far as the deficit as a whole is concerned, we all know by now – don’t we? – that restricting the flow of money into the economy actually harms our chances of paying off our debts. Labour’s plan is to rebuild the UK’s ability to make a profit.
      It doesn’t look as though TTIP is going to make it into EU law before the next election. There are legal procedures being launched that should hamper the process, after which it will hopefully be well within a Labour government’s power to do whatever it wants.
      There is a further issue, which is the convention that no government may bind any future government to its policies. This means a Labour government would be entirely within its rights to withdraw from any agreement made by its forerunner on the grounds that, in British law, it does not carry legal weight.

      1. John

        I am not sure your responses to Stephen are completely accurate.
        I think he is right when he points to the massive level of HMRC-agreed tax evasion that takes place in our country, in addition to the massive spending deficit you have identified.
        Do the names Amazon and Starbucks not mean anything any more?
        Have we all forgotten about tax shelters for so-called “celebrities”?
        And the offshore antics of footballers and F1 drivers are involved too.
        While a successor government does not have to consider itself bound by the policies of any former government, they are bound by contracts and treaties signed-up to by previous governments.
        Right now – as you know – this government is rushing through legaly binding contracts with massively punitive cancellation clauses to privatise the probation service.
        An incoming Labour government will be bound by these contracts.
        The one saving feature about TTIP is that the US Congress is finding it hard to agree to it too. They may delay or even stop it.
        I hope my remarks will clarify the actual situation applying now.

      2. Mike Sivier Post author

        My comments about the deficit were accurate – as far as I can tell. I wasn’t referring to the amount of tax evasion or avoidance that goes on. I was referring to Miliband’s plan to crack down on this and use some of the money that would then come to the Treasury for NHS funding.
        The last figure I had on tax avoidance was £120 billion per year. The Tories have hardly scratched the surface of that huge amount.
        Your observations on contracts and treaties are more worrying, but I still think governments may be able to extricate themselves, in the national interest.

  4. amnesiaclinic

    Thank you for this. A good idea to have a list and watch the space. It is getting people involved who really are fed up with more of the same and don’t believe a word politicians say.
    I do hope you are right and we are about to change the sorry narrative of Thatcher’s heirs.

    X

  5. Barry Davies

    Unfortunately labour have not been an effective opposition and have allowed the coalition to ride roughshod over the most poor and needy in the country with hardly a murmur, when you have to look for the only person who has really stood up for the people on the nhs for example it is a tory, Jeremey LeFroy, who has listened to his constituents and backed the group fighting to keep a good hospital, despite the smear campaign lead by “cure the NHS” and those who would privatise the NHS, so that we don’t have to go to a hospital that is substandard but has a massive pfi debt that needs paying off. labour is tory lite at present and as long as milliband is leader that will not alter.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      I’ve made these points before, but for completeness’ sake: Since the Labour Party has loudly and vehemently opposed every one of the Coalitions vindictive cuts to benefits and services (with one exception when Labour – mistakenly, in my opinion – claimed to have secured concessions and advised members to abstain), and since the Labour Party has worked hard to make the Coalition government account for its actions (giving the reasons behind them and the results of them – to little avail as the government mostly ignores such requests); and since the UK Parliamentary system, as is well-known, is set up so that any government with a majority of MPs – like the Coalition – will win every whipped vote that takes place during its term, how do you think Labour could have been a more effective opposition?
      Remember when Ed Miliband stopped the government from attacking Syria last year? The response to that was enormous, precisely because he had managed something that no Opposition leader had ever done before – stopping the government from pushing through its plan. That was with the help of Coalition backbenchers, of course.
      So Labour has been:
      The most effective Opposition in history; and
      Highly vocal (rather than your claim that they presented “hardly a murmur”).

      That is not to belittle your Mr LeFroy. He must be a very brave man to stand up against every single one of his Conservative colleagues.
      We have had this conversation before, I think. You should stop trying to present falsehood as fact.

  6. Hettie (@fawkirkbairn)

    With regards to the NHS So Andy Burnham is rehabilitated he whos sold off one of the first hospitals under New Labour’s privatzation of the same NHS…internal markets etc need I say more. Then there’s the cuts they have already signed up to. Fine words Ed no commitment abolishing the undemocratic House of Lords, the bedroom tax, Atos oh, and nothing about the corrupt practice of MPs renting each others flats .
    I thought it was so ironic that the old man Leslie Smith’s speech was given to a conference whose party has done so much to help destroy it.
    Finally from a man who could be so closely aligned with Cameron and Clegg (mendacity being their middle name) I wouldn’t trust with a barge pole. BTW haven’t heard his dissenting voice regarding the bombing of Syria and the sending of troops into Iraq.
    His hands are not clean.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      I think you need a bit of healthcare yourself as you seem to be suffering from tunnel vision.
      Labour intends to reverse health service privatisation that was brought in – wholesale – by an organisation called the Conservative and Liberal Democrat Coalition government. Have you heard of them? I agree that New Labour did a lot that made it possible for the Coalition to do what they did quickly, so the members of that now-historical organisation should rightly take criticism for it – but don’t forget who did most of the damage just because you’ve got a bee in your bonnet now.
      What cuts has Labour signed up to? Labour has vowed to keep within spending limits the Coalition set for itself; how it spends the money is its own business.
      Ed Miliband has committed to abolishing the House of Lords in its current form and repealing the Bedroom Tax law. Atos is both on the way out and on the way in, with the WCA contract being released but having gained new contracts. I agree that it must go but the fact that Miliband didn’t mention it does not mean that it won’t happen. That goes for the flat-renting that you mention, too. Not a ‘headline’ policy to grab voters’ attention, you see.
      Your comment about Harry Smith’s speech is in extremely bad taste. He believes Labour is the party to resurrect the NHS, and he has done a large amount of work on the subject. Who are you to say otherwise?
      None of the Labour Party may be closely aligned with Cameron and Clegg. They oppose each other strongly.

      Your comment is quite clever as it mixes fact with falsehood in an attempt to create confidence in the whole of what you’re saying. But your declared membership of the 45 per cent club in Scotland clearly marks you out as one of the many dupes who are being sent out to the social media to denigrate Labour with half-truths.
      I take it you enjoy being misruled by David Cameron and his toffs.
      If Labour does something wrong, then I’ll likely write about it here. I try to make a point of it. But I’ll defend the party to the hilt against the dangerous nonsense you’re peddling.

  7. jim

    Well said mike. I am tired of “I was once voting labour blah blah blah” let me tell you fine kick out the labour mp’s from scotland do you think that the SNP will be able to take opposition? no suprise! but I have never read so much rubbish coming from the snipers fan club as I have just now Ed wanted to fight for scotland not care who he was having to work with. The lies spewing and I mean spewing from the 45 or whatever you call them is sickening he has already said he is getting rid of the bedroom tax, reforming house of lords, etc they have fought against all the cuts ONE THING I WILL SAY TO REMEMBER ALEX SALMONDS GANG WE GAVE DEVOLUTION, WE CREATED THE NHS . What the SNP don’t want to accept is THEIR failures in scotland POLICE SCOTLAND really none of the forces wanted it offices struggling because they had to cut their staff in the offices to save money, CRIME is going up in scotland, labour is not in charge! NHS only one hospital in scotland met their target , labour is not in charge. More interest in independence than running the country and fixing the problems. ONE THING I WILL WARN THEM AS LONG AS I AM HERE AND MANY OTHERS WE WILL KEEP FIGHTING AGAINST INDEPENDENCE. They won’t get it their own way and I’m tired of listening to “oh what a great way to vote and how everyone was good humoured” RUBBISH the yes lot were constant lying, intimidating no voters, ripping down signs (70% in aberdeenshire) the stick and threats Jim Murphy got while canvassing, they thought just because they voted SNP they would get their own way! What I will say to jaypot is fine vote for the snipers because the labour party are for true supporters and as 45 hattie, GET YOUR FACTS RIGHT before talking garbage like your leaders do. The one thing I don’t think it will happen because they know how to spread lies and all that crap one last thing, Ed stopped the attacks on syria going forward they obviously didn’t watch that programme – busy getting brainwashed !!!!.

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