Comment: Miliband’s support for the mansion tax marks return of Labour as a genuine alternative


I grew up in a household that had voted Labour since time immemorial, but aside from a second preference vote for Ken Livingstone in last year’s London mayoral elections, I have never voted Labour in my life.

ed-milibandI came of political age at the height of the Iraq war and the worst betrayals of the Blair government of all the Old Labour values my family had long held dear.

In 2005, I backed RESPECT, in 2010 I voted Green. What was the point, I thought, of tactical voting to keep the Tories out if New Labour offered little in the way of a genuine ideological alternative to Conservative neoliberalism?

As George Monbiot once told me: “As much as I dislike and am disgusted with the Tories, I think you have to vote for what you think is right. And if you cling onto something bad for fear of something worse, no one will end up with the government they want.”

I continue to believe that people should vote positively, not negatively for the devil they know. After all, a two party state is only twice as good as a dictatorship.

But Ed Miliband’s speech in Bedford today has convinced me that at last Labour may be reclaiming its radical roots and offering a return to a more genuine, ideology-based politics that has not been seen since the Thatcher years.

Miliband’s support for reinstating the 10p tax rate funded through a mansion tax is a clear break from Tory plundering of the poor and tax breaks for the richest individuals and biggest corporations, showing how the economy can be fixed by redistribution, raising up the bottom and the middle of society, not crushing it.

Other policy suggestions are also welcome developments to raise living standards: breaking the stranglehold of the big six energy suppliers; stopping the train company price rip-offs on the most popular routes; introduce new rules to stop unfair bank charges; and cap interest on payday loans.

Conservative austerity is failing the country and Miliband has seized his moment to offer a genuine alternative. It may not be everything an Old Labourite might want, but it is a promising start.

If these policies make it into the Labour manifesto, I may yet return to the fold.

Left Foot Forward will look at the opposing view of the issue later today.

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  • treborc

    Good for you, sadly he did little to get me all hot, he does not look like a leader to me, he does not sound like a leader to me., and sadly I do not believe him or trust him yet, I will wait until closer to the next election and see them policies before I fall in line. I spent 44 years in the party leaving in 2010. But then again I’m disabled so for me welfare is the main issues and I have seen or heard nothing except cuts work shy scroungers.

  • Brian S.

    I sometimes voted for labour before they became ‘New’ – but never since. If Ed was talking about re-nationalisation of the railroads and public utilities instead of pathetically trying to control the private companies who virtually got them as a gift from us, I would be more impressed than Salman apparently is.

  • robertcp

    Salman, you are clearly a natural Labour voter who was alienated by the awfulness of New Labour. It is nice to have a party to vote for again!

  • Conrad

    In agreement with you here, it’s all well and good having a mansion tax, but it feels like window dressing, I have yet to see a real master plan that is worthy of their roots yet, and this is now becoming some sort of 50 year problem, i keep on seeing a lot of good smaller ideas but nothing that cannot be undone by a vaguely ambitious Tory government.

  • Mick

    Milliband taking Labour back to how it was in the ’80s? Will it be writing a new ‘longest suicide note in history’?

  • http://twitter.com/SalmanShaheen Salman Shaheen

    I wouldn’t go that far. But since the 80’s we’ve had a Thatcherite consensus which has replaced the post-war consensus. Blair did far more than Major to entrench the legacy of Thatcher. He gutted the Labour party and left us without an ideological alternative. This is just the first rumblings that things might be beginning to change.

  • http://twitter.com/SalmanShaheen Salman Shaheen

    When you’re expecting socks for Christmas and get a jumper, you’re impressed even if it’s not the Playstation you wanted. Since my expectations have been low for Labour for all of my political life, I was relatively – and I stress relatively – impressed by Miliband’s speech. But don’t get me wrong, I support renationalisation too.

  • Mick

    That’s a bit ungrateful isn’t it. Blair gave the Labour Party the shakedown it needed to modernise and get elected. Three times in a row. And Blair could have kept your lot rolling even further had the whole New Labour Project not been about being self-serving, nation-wrecking PC maniacs. The public had to really suffer before they cottoned on. Suffering’s what you’re used to under Labour.

    Now Labour’s going back to the kind of dinosaur socialism which kept it locked out of power for so long. The kind which led to that suicide note manifesto. So the Labour Party needs a new shakedown, which it may avoid if it wins by accident in 2015, current public dissatisfaction being how it is. (Which is how Labour almost ALWAYS gets in – The Tories drop the ball.)

  • Mick

    Is this a FINAL realisation by Leftists that their ‘wildcat’ ways are dead? New Labour pushed that mentality forward and, much as modern leftists hate them, they have the likes of Blair to thank.

    There’s nothing wrong with privatisation. Not if properly regulated and decided on a case by case basis. I’d rather have broken services paid for by fares and subs than taxes.

  • Mick

    Oh come on, talk about prejudice. And from someone in the Left!

    Milliband may have a silly voice and look daft but so did Wilson. And he had YEARS of national destruction to get out of his system!

  • robertcp

    Mick, it is probably a different concept for you to grasp but there is a lot of political space between the hard left of the 1980s and New Labour. Ed Miliband is returning Labour to moderate social democracy.

  • Peter L. Griffiths

    Mansion tax is paid by the mansion owners, but if the mansion is sold then the buyer will pay a price reduced by the discounted future mansion taxes. This means that the mansion owner pays the mansion tax twice, once to the tax authorities and secondly from the reduced selling price. Future buyers will effectively not be paying the mansion tax at all. This situation can be corrected by accompanying the mansion tax with an increase of stamp duty paid by the buyers.