Tag Archives: Labour

“If Corbyn wins I’ll join the Labour Party”

That was one snippet of a conversation I overheard today about the Labour leadership contest.

Two women – one middle aged, one slightly older – were discussing the leadership contest on the next table. After talking about the change in attitude that Corbyn is bringing to Labour, one commented “if you keep on doing what you’ve always been doing…”

It’s a good point. Labour have lost two elections. All of the candidates except Corbyn offer more of the same election loosing attitude and policies. The same refusal to challenge Conservative lies over the cause of the financial crisis. The same inability to challenge austerity and it’s devestating impact on society’s most needy.

If Corbyn is elected as Labour leader, I’ll do the same. I’ll join a Labour Party led by a proper socialist.

A living wage free of tax?

I’m glad to see, in this morning’s Observer, that Labour plan to make the national living wage part of the remit of the Low Pay Commission, and provide business with incentives to pay their employees in line with the level.

A thought has been going round in my head about the living wage recently though. The principle of it is that £7.20 per hour (£8.30 in London) is how much it takes for a family to provide for the basics of a decent life.

While making it part of government policy would be a good move, I can’t help thinking it a little silly that government would then, with the other hand, take some of that away in taxation, leaving those families on less than it takes to “provide them and their families with the basics of a decent life”.

So while having the living wage encouraged by government would be a good thing, there is something else I think government can do to help anyone not earning at least the living wage.

Raise the income tax level to £14,040.00 – the annual salary of someone working 37.5 hours per week on the national living wage.

This would save a married couple working full time at the living wage £3,918.4 per year. For a family who may be living off £24,161.60 per year that’s a huge help. That example is for those already earning the living wage, however. Think of all the people earning les than that and getting taxed on it – that’s where the phrase “squeezed incomes” really means something.

Of course what I’m suggesting here involves government giving up on a huge amount of revenue. So how might that be countered?

Fundamentally I believe the tax system is unfair. Politicians bleat about “fairer taxes” all the time but the biggest problem with the system as far as I’m concerned is differing rates. I believe charging people a higher rate when they reach a higher level of earnings is fundamentally unfair, however noble the intentions of redistributing wealth. Further, I blame that unfairness for much of the tax avoidance and evasion that so infuriates the general public (and understandably so).

Instead, I’d like to see a single flat rate for everybody earning over £14,040.00. I’m no economist so I can’t tell you what that might be (40%?) but it would have to help pay for the increase in tax free allowance outlined above. As companies would save on employer contributions due to an increase in the tax-free allowance, a rise in corporation tax to pay for it would be justifiable and would help pick up the bill also.

There’s my two peneth.

The best route for Clegg is to get tough

What Nick Clegg needs to do now is be tough with the Conservatives. They are on the back foot and desperate to get into power but Clegg holds the keys.

Let’s face it, they’ll be no LibLab coalition – they just don’t have the electoral mandate. They’d need too much support from nationalists who would soon drop their support when their primary aims comes up. Neither Brown nor Clegg could ethically claim to be PM and putting in David Milliband or Harriet Harman would prompt “unelected PM” outrage.

So we’ll either have a LibCon coalition or a minority Conservative government, the way I see it.

In order to get a LibCon coalition, though some massive concessions need to be made. Cameron and the Conservatives are desperate for power under a majority Government. Nick Clegg who is showing himself to be a man of massive integrity, holds the keys and probably has more bargaining power.

It seems to me the concessions would mostly have to come from the Conservatives and that would not go down well. To the point where the coalition would either be very shaky or not go ahead at all. If such a coalition fell apart we’d see another general election in which both Conservatives and Liberal Democrats would be punished. We’d probably get a majority Labour government with a landslide victory and the LibDems would go back to being nobodys.

I believe that Nick Clegg should go in tough, sticking to his four campaign priorities as non-negotiables. If the Conservatives don’t concede on electoral reform they will have to form a minority. Clegg’s integrity will be intact and he’ll keep the support of his party as well as those who voted for him (and all those who voted tactically to keep the Tories out).

By the next general election (which may follow the collapse of a Conservative government) we could well have electoral reform and Clegg’s action will likely reward him a much greater share of the vote and push him and the Liberal Democrats into opposition, if not Government.

So, don’t do it Nick – stick to your guns, let’s get electoral reform!

Michael Fabricant’s tweets: policy or playground?

Many of my Twitter followers have today seen my passionate side as I exchanged tweets with Michael Fabricant over his use of the social networking site. He’s a little unfortunate in that he’s the only one of Lichfield’s four candidates to be active on Twitter. Labour candidate Steve Hyden is but hasn’t tweeted since February. That gives Mike a boost when it comes to engagement with constituents, which is great, but I have a bee in my bonnett.

Like many voters, I think, I’m fed up of the playground politics that we often see. By that I mean politicians just attacking each other. Providing nothing meaningful in terms of solutions to the problems faced by the country or individuals, or focusing on policy. I believe the primary reason why Nick Clegg performed so well in the first leader’s debate is because he focused far more on re-iterating Liberal policy while Cameron and Brown attacked each other.

The polls were clear; as voters we are tired of playground politics. We don’t want you to be saying “don’t vote for the opposition, they’ll do A, B and C” – we want to hear “vote for us because we’ll do X, Y and Z.” In fact, I kind of don’t mind if candidates attack each other so long as they attack policy and then follow it up by telling us what their own policy is on the same issue.

It’s not hard, we just want to know what candidates stand for and what we can expect from them if they become our MP.

So with those basic principles in mind I decided to do a (very unscientific) sentiment analysis of Fabricant’s tweets since he ceased being an MP and became a candidate.

Of 47 tweets since 12th April I found that while 13 (28%) were positive a slightly higher number, 15 (32%) were negative. The rest (19 – 40%) were neutral.

I’ve copied them all into a spreadsheet which you can all see and scrutinise to your hearts content, and I encourage you to do so.

There was no rigid rule set about what is and isn’t positive or negative and in some cases I’ve even asked for clarification from you as to whether I got it right as well as explaining in some cases why I chose the sentiment I did. I’d appreciate your thoughts and feedback in the comments below.

What it showed me personally was that, overall, Mike’s tweets ain’t that bad. Some of the negative tweets could have easily become positives if followed up with “…but Conservatives would do X” to show the difference in the main parties and hence the choice we have.

I should also point out that as an MP, Fabricant had some very good moments. Especially (and dear to my heart) the tweeting he did during the passing of the Digital Economy Bill.

So, what do you think?

Update: Michael said to me on Twitter, “Oh get real! Detailed policy in 140 chars? Go to www.conservatives.com for detailed policy.” so it makes sense I give an example of what I would like (not detailed policy!) This tweet attacking Nick Clegg could have been followed up with something like, “Conservative gov’t would introduce Privilege Act to stop that happening. See manifesto p66 http://bit.ly/aR9PfA [pdf]” – that’s 117 characters that says “vote for me and I’ll do something about such abuses.”