Miliband is following the 35 per cent core vote strategy, albeit reiterating more traditional Labour and social democratic values, but in ways that are clearly too modest and moderate; his big pledge to make the Labour party different from the other mainstream parties has not been honoured, with the inevitable result that Labour is hemorrhaging too many votes to Ukip, with disillusioned voters feeling betrayed.
Rather than accepting that the days of large single-majorities may be a thing of the past, Labour should be aiming for a mandate from the electorate to enable it to transform our society which sees inequality rise every day, social mobility decline, and the weak and less fortunate driven to food banks and payday lenders. By hammering home the coalition`s appalling record, exposing Ukip`s tax and health plans, and repeating, with all the front-bench involved rather than too much focus on the leader, major proposals to save the NHS, the East Coast railway and RBS from privatisation, to introduce fairer taxation and education policies, and economic policies which increase the minimum wage, end the profiteering of private landlords, and produce millions of affordable homes, Labour can win with a significant majority.Indeed, had such measures been adopted earlier, Labour would have limited Farage`s success to a few tremors rather than what he calls an "earthquake"!
Getting more young people to vote would undoubtedly benefit Labour at the polls, and "bolder" policies, especially on rents and tax avoiding landlords, could do the trick, and "seize their imagination". However, more accessible polling stations, at supermarkets, town centres and university campuses, would force politicians out of the complacency which feeds the current corruption. A bold move by Labour could see a Private Member`s Bill on changing the location of voting, and a debate in the next session of parliament!
John Phillips of the GMB was right to say at the Wales TUC conference that Thatcher`s "sell-off of a million council houses still hurts today", and that private landlords are the "real beneficiaries of Britain`s welfare system". Not only are they charging extortionate rents for property that is often sub-standard, they are bleeding the taxpayers dry! Housing benefits going to these modern-day Rachmanns have risen by a massive 51% since 2008. Just as bad is the fact that tax avoidance is rife in the private rental sector; one tax evading landlord managed to deprive the Treasury of £84,000, yet recently only received a suspended one year sentence! HMRC is exaggerating hugely when claiming such tax avoiders "are playing a high risk game", with such meagre punishment. A think tank regards BTL as meaning "Big Tax Let-off", (as opposed to Buy To Let) with "tax breaks for private landlords" adding up to £5bn a year, so wouldn`t one expect Labour to be targetting this for its first post-election budget?
Labour would have been ignoring an electoral boost if it were not to pledge "a cap on rent". As, however, rents at the moment are still way too high, it should be considering a return to 2010 rent levels,whilst an Ofsted-style inspection team is set up to ensure properties are well-maintained, equipped with safety alarms and such like. If the Tory response to modest proposals is to accuse Labour of "Venezuela-style rent controls", Miliband may as well be radical, and get the job done. Again the question can be asked: What is the point of being a Labour PM if all you`re going to do is tinker, when transformation is required? The Wales TUC conference delegates demanded "robust regulation of the private rented sector". The sooner Labour commits itself fully to this, the ending of tax perks for profiteering landlords, and to the creation of more social housing the better! Whilst on the subject of tax avoidance, should not all evaders and avoiders with honours have to send them back, and those who represent us in sport or parliament not be allowed to do so again?
Are the policies on minimum wage bold enough to re-assure defectors to Ukip? Are Tristram Hunt`s comments on free schools and Performance Related Pay simply feeble attempts to out-gove Gove? Accept that they cannot out-gun the Tories and Ukip parties on immigration, and instead hone already publicised policies with the aim of making them more accessible and believable. Do its statements on HS2, Trident, a third runway and most importantly, austerity, suggest a party that is ready to govern or one that is going to carry on policies pretty similar to those of the coalition? What about the NHS and its funding? There`s a state-owned bank out there waiting to be used for the benefit of the taxpayers, and a majority of them support the NHS.