Labour face a serious problem, while they may be slightly ahead in the polls, Conservative support is holding up well, despite them implementing the harshest ‘cuts’ for a generation (despite there being no actual cutting taking place, spending is still rising under Cameron every year (but we will gloss over that). The problem for Labour is that they have lost their credibility and while Miliband’s heart may be in the right place, unless you’re a die hard Labour supporter he doesn’t really inspire confidence. Labour have to regain their credibility, while they still have people like Ed Balls – synonymous with Gordon Brown and the Financial Crash. In their shadow cabinet they cannot regain credibility through their people, they will have to do it through their policies. I shall therefore set out which Policies Labour need to decide from their review if they stand any chance of winning the next election
Referendum on the EU
Miliband needs a big hitter, a headline policy to grab attention. Like it or not a precedent has been set on EU referendums with the vote for Entry to the Common Market. While only just over 50% of the people want Britain to leave the EU (with 30% wishing to stay) well over 70% of the population want to see a referendum. Miliband needs to show Britain hes on the side of the people, he did well over News Of The World but that’s quickly forgotten he needs something to show that he is on the side of the people, recognise the concerns people have that 75% of our laws are made in Brussels and that we pay £50m a day for the privilege. Miliband needs to stand up for Democracy, ideally he would argue that we should leave and thus be able to trade freely with the world and Europe and not be some EU isolationists, and save the UK economy the reported £119bn the EU costs us each year. However he doesn’t need to do this all he needs to do is argue for a referendum. Not only would this cause huge ruptures in the Tory party.It would also save save Labour from the threat of UKIP who’s core vote studies have show is actually Old Labour members, and who took heavily from Labour in the Barnsley by election, getting more votes from 2010 Labour votes than 2010 Conservative or Lib Dem voters, both as a percentage and in absolute terms, but it would also show the people that he is pro democracy and against careerists in Westminster making decisions against the popular will.
Miliband needs to reconnect with the people. Labour has forgotten its working class roots. He needs therefore to offer tax cuts to the poorest in society, raising the personal tax threshold and cutting the rate of tax for all. Labour must be bold, the aim of tax is to raise revenue not to punish. They must call for an end to the 50p tax rate as it costs more than it raises in revenue, this would also again be a huge problem for the Tories, causing further fractures and problems. As the Laffer curve shows, cutting tax raises revenue, so Miliband must boldly argue for tax cuts, not just small VAT Cuts that Balls has proposed, but large cuts to income tax. Both to raise more revenue and encourage people to work, and to small business that employs the majority of Britons allowing them to expand and offer the jobs desperately needed.
If one thing came out of the Labour conference, it was the performance of Rory Weal. Weal is an example of the excellent selective education that this country can offer. Many in the Labour party including Harriet Harman and Diane Abbott take advantage of Grammar or Private schools. Miliband needs to embrace selective Education, Grammar schools are the best way to get the poorest into higher education, by allowing the academically gifted to not be pulled down by those in schools who do not wish to be there. Ed needs to promise to massively increase the number of Grammar schools in the country.
36 Polls in a row have shown that over 75% of England want an English parliament. It is to Labours credit that they introduced Devolution in 1997, however they now need to make devolution fair for all. The biggest threat to the Union is not from the SNP it is from disgruntled Englanders, who provides the most in tax, but per capita receives the least spending, who have no Parliament of their own, unlike the Welsh Assembly or Scottish parliament. Again Miliband can show he is on the side of the people by offering this, a policy that the vast majority of the English people want, and really the best way to keep the union in tact.
Crucially, Labour lost all credibility when it came to the Economy. Even before the crisis they were spending far more than they earnt, with even more debt kept off the books with PFI and public sector pensions. Ed needs to promise he will keep a balanced budget if he is to return to power. While the revenue raising tax cuts will go some way to doing this, Ed needs to accept the need for a reduction in Government spending, at the moment we are paying £60bn a year on purely debt interest payments, that’s enough for 4 million nurses, 2.7 million teachers or over 10,000 new schools, every year. Ed needs to accept that his current economic plan doesn’t go far enough, its not the deficit that’s worrying it’s the debt, the true figure of which according to the TPA stands at over £8 trillion. Ed needs to accept that its immoral to pass down the debt of today onto the Generations of tomorrow. He needs to promise to balance the budget, so no more debt is created to be passed onto our unborn children. He really should go further, promising to repeatedly show budget surplus’ to actually start getting the debt down. There are many ways he can do this: cutting non jobs in the public sector, cutting the huge levels of bureaucracy, slashing council chief executive pay, cutting corporation tax so companies such as Twitter that recently located to Ireland due to the corporation tax rates come over here and provide jobs and income, simplifying the tax code so its easier to implement and harder to avoid, cutting taxes for everyone so encouraging the lowest paid into work and not penalising those who provide for our economy (the top 1% currently pay 25% of all tax), pulling out of the EU and saving the economy £119bn a year and saving the Government each year more than Osbornes cuts plan to, simplifying welfare to ensure it’s a safety net not a mattress and thus encouraging people to work, not incentivising them to remain at home.
In fact there are a plethora of economic policies Miliband could introduce, but it remains that he needs to show the people that he is credible on the economy and a Labour Government will not once again wreck the nations finances.
Without these common sense policies Labour will struggle badly at the next election, parties such as UKIP who offer Grammar schools, a referendum on the EU and an English parliament are benefiting from the disconnect between public opinion and what the politicians do. The Tories are benefiting from Labours continued lack of economic credibility. Labour need to act to stop this worrying trend, it needs to offer the policies outlined above, otherwise they are doomed to the wilderness years experienced by the Conservatives after 1997.
Olly Neville is studying PPE (Philosophy, Politics & Economics) at university and has a keen interest in blogging. Olly is also a UKIP Youth elections officer @OllyNeville