It is difficult to disagree with either Rafael Behr`s description of Labour "hammering" the Tories being like "an occasional prodding with a foam mallet", or his suggestion that Miliband`s assessment of the so-called economic recovery which "by-passes the majority" may just be correct. (A Tory nightmare:what if "red Ed is right on wages? 29/10/14) What is surprising, however, is Behr`s decision to omit the two most obvious criticisms of the Tories` economic plan: their idea for a "low wage economy" is meant to facilitate a regime where lower taxes are paid, especially by corporations and the wealthy. This has backfired spectacularly, despite record employment, as workers on low wages or those recently self-employed, pay little or no income tax, and consequently coalition tax targets will not be met, and borrowing will increase even further, adding more to a deficit the Tories promised to reduce.
Secondly, of course, paying low wages does not benefit an already unbalanced economy; company profits may rise and incomes at the top may reach even more obscene levels, but much of that money does not return to the economy. Paying higher wages immediately would be much more sensible, as spending would increase along with demand, giving the economy a much needed boost. In addition, there would be less need for housing and other benefits for which the taxpayer currently pays, rather than the greedy bosses.
Voters certainly "aren`t stupid", and they realise that Labour` pledge to have a minimum wage by 2020 of £8 an hour smacks of a party that is dogged by cowardice, and too firmly in cahoots with business and the City`s financial chicanery!
So Paul Mason thinks that if Labour fails to win the election next May, the party can either turn "blue", or, deserting any working class pretensions it might have, become the party of the "liberal salariat and the public sector workforce". (Mainstream politics is imploding; is discontent with globalisation the cause?27/10/14) He clearly views current Labour policies as being largely orientated towards the working people, but on what grounds?
The pledge for an £8 an hour minimum wage is a very moderate one, not to be achieved until 2020, and will do little if anything to curb the growing inequality, which already places the UK in 28th out of 34 in the equality league table. Housing policies let the greedy landlords off the hook, with only promises to cap further rises in rents which already reach exploitative levels. Proposals to end the employment of unqualified teachers will have no effect on the decreasing social mobility.
As for remaining the party of the "public sector workforce", the idea would perhaps have more feasibility if Labour was actually now demanding an end to their pay freeze and pension reforms, and supporting them in their industrial action. There is a real danger that many in the public sector will desert them in May, and who can blame them when Labour`s leaders appear more concerned about cosying up to business and the City, promising nothing to limit obscene pay at the top, or anything which might offend the CBI?