Labour’s missed opportunity

A potential springboard to launch Labour ahead of the election has been wasted by a set of standard, uninspiring ideas on a decade timeframe.

A potential springboard to launch Labour ahead of the election has been wasted by a set of standard, uninspiring ideas on a decade timeframe

This week, Labour leader Ed Miliband outlined his party’s 10-year plan for Britain should they win the general election next May. Addressing the Labour Party Conference in Manchester, Miliband laid out six key points that he believes will help bring the country back together.

The two standout policies are plans to raise the minimum wage to £8 an hour by the end of the next parliament and helping fund the NHS through proceeds from a mansion tax. 

It is true that all these ideas are arguably agreeable in their own individual right, however I can’t help feeling that Labour have missed a trick here. It is their last opportunity before the general election to really take the spotlight and spell out their vision to the general public – to offer something radical and inspiring. Unfortunately, they have failed to do so.

Some media outlets have picked up on the proposal to raise the minimum wage to £8 an hour, which is encroaching on radical territory but it isn’t nearly bold enough. Currently, the London living wage is £8.80 an hour, and £7.65 outside of the capital. Factor in an annual inflation rise of around 2 per cent forecast by the Bank of England and it’s clear that such a figure should be closer to £10 an hour by 2020 in order to sustain a living.

Instead, Labour should have proposed an immediate rise to £8 and then have the rate pegged to inflation. As James Bloodworth writes, a move would not be regarded as anti-business because workers are essentially consumers too, and the more money they have in their pocket the more likely they are to spend it.

Similarly, Miliband has tinkered with boldness before, toying with the idea of renationalising the railways. Unfortunately though, he only aggravated many voters and businesses by proposing a half-hearted approach, therefore missing out on a policy that would have chimed with many. Such lack of conviction could come back to haunt Miliband and Labour come next May.

In what is one of the tightest elections to date to predict, Labour and its leader need a distinctive narrative. Miliband’s personal ratings are woeful, and when it comes to the economy the Conservatives are strides ahead on an issue that is fundamental in deciding elections – the Scottish referendum is evidence of that. Labour needs its trump card.

And it would have come with a pledge to, say, renationalise the railways, reform drug policy, or take a firmer stance on the minimum wage. There is evidence of major public support for all these policies.

But not only that, Miliband would have something to personally stand for; and his party would have a narrative and direction that they could portray to the electorate.

It’s a shame then that what could have been a springboard to really launch Labour ahead of the election has instead been wasted by a set of standard, uninspiring ideas on a decade timeframe.

Of course it is beneficial to have a long-term plan, but voters also want something to rally around now, to get behind and really feel passionate about. This week Labour could have given them that.

Luke Nightingale is a freelance journalist and founding editor of The Looking Glass Liverpool. He also blogs

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34 Responses to “Labour’s missed opportunity”

  1. JoeDM

    Milibean is rapidly becoming the ‘cock-up king’ of British politics.

    Only today it appears that he has refused, yes refused, to be part of a “Help For Heros” charity photo campaign run by the Sun when the other party leaders are all fully involved.

    Forgets his lines. Cannot eat a bacon sandwich. When asked on Channel Four news what is the most important issue for then next government he fails to mention the deficit !!!!

  2. MoreLeftThanYou

    I agree. The Mansion Tax proposal is also pitiful. The target to be raised should have been at least £5 billion.

  3. Dave Roberts

    Whoever thought of a mansion tax as the salvation, financially, of the NHS should be sacked, now. What is a mansion and what is the level of tax that should be imposed on it? This is one of the worst thought out, knee jerk policies ever to come from Labour.

    The London Borough of Hackney is, on paper, one of the most deprived in the country. It has also had one of the biggest jumps in house prices in the country as well. From Stoke Newington in the north to Victoria Park Village in the south, the latter pronounced tongue in cheek as it’s estate agentese, houses of a million are the norm not the exception.

    Take Lavender Grove for instance. Just off Queensbridge Road south of hipster Dalston and east of equally hipster Shoreditch it runs west to London Fields whereupon our traveler will soon find themselves in Victoria Park and quaint Lauriston Village, more estate agentese!

    Lavender Grove is interesting in that it is home to the Mayor of Hackney Jules Pipe and consists of a hundred or more two story three up three down small garden houses all very well preserved. They are all, when they are on the market, a million two plus. Victoria Park Road itself has flats for six hundred thousand and that would be cheap with work needed.

    All of these properties are in wards that are solidly Labour with massive majorities. The borough is almost entirely Labour and it’s not unique in either London or the country. Labour voters in properties like these are going to be asked to emulate the turkey at Christmas time and vote for massive increases in their tax bills. It’s not going to happen.

    Labour Party thinkers have got to realise that the cannot be elected nationally without taking into account that a lot of their hard core support lives in houses that will be faced with huge tax hikes. They have fallen victim to their own propaganda of foreign fat cats based in tax havens buying up our inner cities and leaving them empty, personally I’d rent them out but that’s just me!

    This is one that should be kicked into the long grass and left there so that Tory number crunchers forget about it and don’t point out that the paltry sums raised will do noting to save the NHS either.

  4. RoyB

    If you believe The Sun’s account of anything, then you would believe anything! And if eating a bacon sandwich in some approved fashion is a qualification for PM, then our dog could do the job.

  5. Dave Roberts

    Most people who read The Sun are Labour voters.

  6. Jacques Strap

    Poor fella. He cant do anything right. He cant do anything left or centre either.

    Epic, epic epic fail.

  7. The_Average_Joe_UK

    At no time has the most useless Labour party outlined how they would drive growth. The only exampole we have of Labour in power is Wales. That country is on its knees. Labour would suck the life out of the economy. Business hates it and would decline, history says that is always the case. I hate Cameron and the Tories, but Labour would be 1000% worse. The only people that support Labour are those who are unaware of the reality and stupid apparatchiks.

  8. The_Average_Joe_UK

    Ignorant jealous failures purporting to help the poor, but keeping them down whith their class war ways.

  9. The_Average_Joe_UK

    Yup a race to the bottom, if everyone is poor then thats fair.

  10. MoreLeftThanYou

    A property guy on the news a while back said that any person paying £5 million or more for a house in London was probably spending less than 5% of their assets on that house. A Mansion Tax set at 1% of value per annum would mean that person paying £50,000 per year in tax representing one tenth of one per cent of their assets.

    My council tax represents 6% of my net income each year. How about you? If you think it is a race to the bottom you must have an income which means your council or property tax is less than 1/10 of 1% your income.

    Another commentator on TV said the wealthy want security and they would not care about a mansion tax. But you care for them. Why?

  11. Leon Wolfeson

    You’ve already taken the life, neoliberal, as you lie about history as usual, and you admit that you’re such an extremist that you hate even Cameron, as you spew hate at most of the British (who are not right wing).

    But as ever, wages are far too high and there’s far too much free healthcare etc. for you.

  12. Leon Wolfeson

    Yes, that’s you. Thanks for that clear statement of intent, as you talk once more about your war on the poor.

  13. Leon Wolfeson

    Yes, thanks for your plans for the 99%. Your view, your policy, your goal.

  14. Leon Wolfeson

    Because he’s alright, jack, and he can peddle his extremist views and attack the British economy without facing being homeless on the street.

  15. MoreLeftThanYou

    The property guy is the Italian Managing Director of a company selling houses in London £5 million to £20 million to Chinese investors. You just do not know the world you are living in. The wealthy do not care about property taxes. You do.

  16. Guest

    The usual – fire MP’s, because they don’t agree with you. Your anti-democratic credentials shine. Like a t…

  17. Leon Wolfeson

    No, I don’t actually – because there’s no chance I can afford to buy a house round here.

    Even if I get the big new job opportunity which I have coming up, which pays something like twice the national average wage, I’d need to save for over a decade to come up with just the deposit.

  18. Dave Roberts

    Well, no Leon, he didn’t actually say that at all.

  19. Dave Roberts

    Well no, Leon, he didn’t say that actually.

  20. Dave Roberts

    Well, no Leon, I didn’t actually say that.

  21. The_Average_Joe_UK

    Oh no found out! I’m off to eat babies and then go hunting. Will drop a couple of bottles of claret before beating peasants before bed.

    You obviously are a brainwashed lefty.

  22. Dave Roberts

    I used to think he was loony left but now just loony tunes.

  23. The_Average_Joe_UK

    But Leon with his left programming is taught to think anybody attacking Labours ridiculous ways is hell bent on the destruction of the poor.

    Just for you Leon, I’m unemployed, but NOT stupid.

  24. Leon Wolfeson

    Yes, you do. I take you quite literally. That’s what capitalism causes, after all.

    Keep screaming that not beliving exactly as you do makes people “brainwashed”, you cannot accept any other views exist.

  25. Leon Wolfeson

    No, you’re not stupid, youy’re an ideologue, blindly chanting nonsense propaganda because you chose to.

    I, unlike you, don’t have a default set of idiotic responses, when you lash out at me whittering on about Labour, who are a moderate right party I don’t support.

    I’m a leftist, not a Labourite, and you are indeed a Satanist.
    And Rich people like you don’t need to work, yes, right. No surprise there.

  26. Leon Wolfeson

    Yes, of course you see any views outside yours are insane, it’s standard far right ideology, narrow-minded bigotry and totalitarian social darwinism from you at every pass, as you come here to troll and whine and disrupt conversation.

  27. Leon Wolfeson

    Yes yes, keep making excuses for your buddy. Facts are not facts when they don’t suit you, as you defend threatening to smash people over the head.

  28. The_Average_Joe_UK

    Just gone 13:30, guess you just got up? Care to show me a few examples of where leftists provided a great economy for their people? Have driven growth?

    Venezuela? North Korea? Russia? Khymer Rouge? VietKong? Mao? Est Germany? Cuba?

    How are the leftists doing in France?

    The boring thing is that you cant see that what you accuse me of is exactly what you are and are up to.

    You are a dumb arse failure.

  29. Leon Wolfeson

    I don’t keep your schedule, as you can’t get away from the fact you are factually incorrect about my beliefs, you then resort to PC attacks.

    And of course you need to spew I’m like you, that everyone is your kind of Bankster and Satanist.

    No, I am not you. This is not hard. And let’s see…


    Just off the top of my head, those…not to mention your lack of knowledge of 1945-1950.

    China is a nice Capitalist example today. So’s the Gulf states, bloated on oil…then there’s Russia…oh, and let’s not forget your bankers crisis. But hey, details.

    (France’s problem is they didn’t carry through!)

  30. Guest

    So who else is using your account? Oh, I get it, you’d murder MP’s who don’t agree with you, like any tinpot dictator.

    Thanks, LordBlagger.

  31. Leon Wolfeson

    Latest chant is it, denying what you posted LordBlagger? Oh, being too kind again I see – you’re for mass murder as usual, so pensions won’t exist.

    And of course you’re for outright slavery.

  32. The_Average_Joe_UK

    When you extract your head from your rectum, you’ll see things in a different way.

    Sweden grew massively shrinking govt. spending. Norway has huge oil revenue, hardly difficult to do well there.

    Germany is about as socialist as my penis. In Austria privatisation has reduced state holdings to a level comparable to other European economies. Labour movements
    are particularly strong in Austria though Austria doesn’t suffer the British disease where the Unions are happy to drive companies into the weeds. Austria works like Germany where Labour and business work together. In the UK business despises and mistrusts the left and vice versa, as its them and us.

    France’s problem was the government signalling they were closed for business, something a blinkered lefty wouldn’t understand.

    Why don’t you show me how right you are, perhaps you could start a company and employ 100,000 on a living wage and drive the capitalist competition into the dust. You could call it ‘Socialist PLC’. Go on, I double dare you. Then again you could stay a dumb arse failure windbag with all the solutions on a little read lefty blog.

  33. Leon Wolfeson

    I don’t have your habits and fetishes, and I won’t magically become like you no matter how often you repeat it.

    Sweden just torpedo’d their own economy, not sure why you feel that’s good, and you are switching back to “socialist” from left wing in bait-and-switch nonsense, and I don’t actually and it is not necessary to the left to support strong state holdings (I support mutual and co-operative holdings!)

    Then you start talking nonsense about Unions, bad-mothing basic rights and making excuses, as you get it completely wrong about France (they dithered on policy, that’s the basic issue they had).

    And I have no interest in being a big business owner, an attitude you evidently don’t get, as you spew garbage about socialism (which I don’t even follow) and scream childish insults and taunt me in your immature way..which would be funny if you were not rich and had the power to hurt people with your histrionics.

    You’re closed to business, you’re interested in profit for yourself, something else entirely. Oh, and you’re here, trolling. Telling.

  34. Dave Roberts

    Let’s see if we can debate this Leon/Guest. Could you explain how my post above about the mansion tax has morphed into killing MPs? I also invite anyone else to debate this.

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