Friday, 18 July 2014

Labour and business

Attempting to break records for disingenuity, when faced with facts relating to "increased fatalities in the construction industry" and deaths from "occupational illness such as work-related cancers and stress", the Minister for Health and Safety comments that "workplaces are getting safer".
      Like the chief-of-staff for the Lib Dem MP who has advertised nine unpaid internships, requiring "computing and writing skills and an understanding of confidentiality" saying  that they were not " real jobs", we are under a constant barrage of examples of "economy with the truth". Presumably, this is because they know there is little danger of a serious reprimand, or even repudiation, ever since the Tories unbelievably got away with the biggest lie, blaming Labour`s spending for the financial crash. Goebbels-like, they now expect us to believe anything! They really want to develop the north`s economy, even though HS2 won`t get there for many years, and a third runway, to go with Crossrail, is destined for London. Cameron cares so much about gender equality, suddenly, months before the election, that he has a reshuffle, to look as though the cabinet isn`t full of Etonians, male multi-millionaires and Bullingdon club members.
     It`s not just the politicians who take ingenuity to new levels. A recent CBI report is calling on politicians "to help the most disadvantaged in society", and to "do more about affordable childcare", whilst saying that providing "ladders" to enable promotion and increased pay is "a joint challenge for government and business"! Next they`ll be saying government should subsidise pay so that businesses can pay really low wages- N0! THAT HAPPENS ALREADY!! Oh, and we mustn`t forget how top executives now get 162 times the average worker`s pay!
     A Labour party should see through all of this nonsense, and start by challenging businesses to get their houses in order. How dare they expect the Treasury to fund more childcare when they pay parents less than a living wage? How dare they expect the taxpayer to "help the most disadvantaged" when companies do their utmost to avoid paying their fair share of tax, even though many use the "patent box" scam to lower their corporation tax to a single figure rate? How dare the government ignore the Health and Safety issues on construction sites, and the refusal of many companies to employ trade union members, the same government telling us it is tackling tax evasion when it`s reducing the number of tax inspectors at HMRC, and the tax gap increased by £1bn last year?
     With inequality rising to Victorian levels, the NHS in need of extra funding, tax avoidance costing at least £35bn a year, and welfare services reeling from the government`s imposed poverty and austerity policies, Labour must stop proposing "middle way", compromise solutions; nothing smacks more of a dithering leadership than proposals which are neither radical nor conservative, whilst attempting to appear both. That`s why its so disappointing to see Miliband "picking up where former leader Tony Blair left off", cosying up to business.
What Balls and Miliband should be doing is advocating an increase in corporation tax, especially for firms not paying the living wage. What is the point of attracting foreign companies, like the huge operator of drilling rigs, Rowan, to domicile here, when they end up paying derisory taxes and keeping  their HQ and management in the US? Tax expert, Richard Murphy, estimates the overall cost to the UK of this mistaken policy is £10bn. A relatively new trend is for American firms to attempt " inversion takeovers" of British firms in order to reduce their tax bills, something that the government is loath to condemn. A recent Morning Star editorial was right to say that the only fear fat cats have is of a "Labour party riding high in the polls"; a "business-friendly manifesto" guarantees that won`t happen! 
     Time for Labour to show bottle and launch an offensive against Tory lies; how about starting with the one about privatisation benefitting the country, and take a bolder stance on railway re-nationalisation? The electorate might appreciate a party telling the truth, for a change! 

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