Thursday, 9 January 2014

Election and minimum wage

The race is clearly on: which of the two "champions of low-paid workers", the Tories or Lib Dems, will succeed, with their support for increasing the minimum wage, in winning the votes of the working people?  A general election is not on the horizon, by any chance? What idiots do they take voters for, after spending four years in power enforcing poverty on the majority, whilst enriching City friends? Remember how Clegg, after 30 months of delivering austerity to the country, said in 2012 that it was then time to "hardwire fairness" into government policies? Amazing what thoughts of Ukip success in the Euro elections, and a Labour victory in 2015, can do, especially when leadership changes will be in the offing! When the CBI chief sees the need for improvement in workers` pay, an election bandwagon suddenly presents itself. Suddenly, they care!
       Labour certainly needs to be more pro-active in this area, what many observers might consider their own territory. With both Tories and Lib Dems obviously struggling to retain their traditional voters, with political principles in the run-up to a general election mattering even less than usual, and with Clegg already facing what appears to many as a leadership challenge from Cable, Labour must pledge immediately a substantial increase in the minimum wage, up to at least living wage levels, and inflation-index linked, thereby "stealing the thunder" of Osborne`s March budget and the LibDems` so-called "fairness agenda", and setting out its stall as the party of the people, not the City.
        One question would still remain, however: is the raising the minimum wage, even to living wage levels, whilst obviously being a start in the improvement of the standard of living of many, sufficient on its own? Will it not, for example,merely lead to employers taking on more part-time staff on zero-hours contracts, large companies like supermarkets and online suppliers not only raising  prices but becoming more determined to find loopholes in tax legislation, and will not exploititative landlords be more inclined to raise rents further, in the knowledge that their tenants` income has risen?
    Hopefully, Jon Cruddas`s committees have been doing some joined-up thinking on these issues, so some sharing of their conclusions with the electorate, from the Labour leadership, would be welcome.

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