Look left: Ed Miliband and the trade unions, the Royal Mail, and MPs’ pay

James Bloodworth looks back at the week’s politics, including our progressive, regressive and evidence of the week.

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• On Tuesday Ed Miliband announced that he will end the automatic affiliation fee paid by union members to the Labour Party.

Under the current system, members of supportive unions pay an automatic levy to Labour unless they choose to opt out. Once the changes are enacted only those union members who deliberately decide to join the party would do so.

During his speech Miliband also announced spending limits and codes of conduct for candidates in Labour selections, open primaries for the 2016 mayoral contest, a call for all-party talks on capping donations, as well as a consultation on second jobs for MPs.

Prior to Ed’s speech Left Foot Forward set out five party reforms we think he should make. We also welcomed the announcements made in the speech, several of which – such as primaries and a cap on selection spending – echoed our own ideas for party reform.

• On Wednesday ministers announced the final details of plans for the privatisation of Royal Mail.

The government is looking to move quickly on the sale, with shares expected to be floated by the autumn.

This week Left Foot Forward looked at five reasons why we think it is a mistake to privatise the Royal Mail. Interestingly, two thirds of the public are opposed to the sell off, including majorities of Conservative and UKIP voters.

• As expected on Thursday it was announced that MPs are to receive a £6,000 pay increase to £74,000 a year.

However the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) also recommended cuts to things such as meal allowances and taxis, as well as a less generous pension scheme.

The announcement predictably caused outrage among members of the public, coming only weeks after George Osborne announced £11.5 billion pounds worth of spending cuts and a 1 per cent limit on public sector pay rises.

Left Foot Forward recently set out five reasons why we don’t believe MPs should receive a pay rise. We also noticed that the Royal Family and MPs are apparently the only public sector employees who deserve a pay increase.

Progressive of the Week:

In a remarkable initiative the people of Lewisham have established the Lewisham Independent People’s Commission of Inquiry, which includes Baroness Warnock, Blake Morrison and Michael Mansfield QC, to look in detail at the government’s decision to close Lewisham Hospital.

The commission will look at first principles of the original NHS vision, how it has changed via the internal market and privatisation, as well as at where Lewisham Hospital stands in the recent changes to the NHS.

The full report by the Panel will be released in September.

Regressive of the week:

Simon Danczuk MP wrote a piece for the Telegraph this week in which he said that the  politics of the Labour left “should be viewed in the same way as the views of the BNP”.

Sorry Simon, but the Labour left should not “be viewed in the same way as the BNP”. The BNP are a racist party who would like to forcibly repatriate non-white Britons.

We don’t always agree with the Labour left, but comparing them to the BNP is an appalling slur.

Evidence of the Week:

New figures released on Wednesday reveal that high earners are paying 35 per cent of their incomes in tax while the lowest earners are paying 36 per cent.

The figures, form the Office for National Statistics, are being partly blamed on the decision by George Osborne to increase VAT to 20 per cent in January 2011.

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