Saturday, 13 December 2014

Defending now too risky! Time to attack

The recent by-elections have a clear message for Labour: there have to be major changes to avoid embarrassing results next May! The time is ripe for an attack by Labour on their opponents; defending narrow leads in the opinion polls could lead to disaster.
     One of the most original analyses of the Labour conference was provided by the Observer`s Andrew Rawnsley, who compared the party`s performance with a football team, ahead 1-0 in the match, but hanging on for dear life until the final whistle, not looking like a government-in-waiting at all. Not too surprising, perhaps, in view of the fact that every proposal Labour leaders make is criticised by their opponents and press; even moderate reforms of the private rental system were viewed as similar to those of Hugo Chavez! However, Rawnsley has a point. As every fan knows, the team which defends a one goal lead too early is asking for trouble.
     After the Tory conference, and the sudden appearance of £7bn, even the not-so-astute Lib Dems pointed out that the Tories had created an "open goal". But the truth is that the Tories` downright selfishness and cruelty have provided an easy target for years.The real mystery is why Labour doesn`t shoot! With seven months still to go before the election, a Labour offensive now, even an all-out onslaught, could provide them with the mandate needed to transform our socially immobile society.
      What should be attacked? For starters, the Tories cannot be allowed to continue their nonsense about Labour being the "borrowing" party, and so getting the country into even more debt. Recent research has shown that coaliton borrowing in the last 5 years has totalled £572.5bn, compared with £442.7bn borrowed by Labour over 13 years! Remember, too, how the Tories started the 2010 administration by claiming above all else that the deficit had to be reduced, so that debt would not be a burden for the next generation? Then they, and their complicit Lib Dem cronies, tripled university fees to ensure that burden was massive for tens of thousands!
     As for their claims about their "long-term economic plan"!! Whereas the public sector net debt stood at 57% of the Gross Domestic product in May 2010, by the end of June, 2014, it was 77%, despite their brilliant plan to cut 350,000 public sector jobs, with more to come, including, unbelievably, at HMRC. We all know, too, how unemployment figures have been skewed by zero-hours contracts, increases in the number of self-employed and by those disqualified from gaining JSA. But where are Labour`s protests about how the public is being tricked by these Tory con-men? 
     Attacking the coalition`s record on welfare should be a no-brainer for Labour, but despite Andy Burnham`s efforts, and notwithstanding the media`s failure to investigate the sale of much of the NHS, do the majority of voters believe that the privatisation of the health service has begun? So-called "benefit scroungers" have been castigated by this government since day one, but no-one mentions the £85bn given to the corporate sector every year? The working poor are increasingly reliant on taxpayers` subsidies, so why aren`t firms forced to pay substantially more? How about the Tories` broken promises? Don`t the Labour policy-makers remember promises like "no frontline cuts","no rise in VAT" and "no top-down reorganisation of the NHS"? Did the Tories tell the electorate that state schools would be put under huge pressure to academise, or that free schools would eat into the education budget at alarming rates? We were told how tax avoidance was "morally repugnant" but not that thousands of tax inspectors would lose their jobs, or that well-known tax avoiding firms would continue to get government grants and contracts! Why should anyone believe a word the Tories say?
    As for the future!! Tory domestic policies like the "low tax-low wage economy", or the aim to shrink the state to levels last seen in 1948, or further tax reductions for the well-off are there to be shot at. Similarly, Ukip`s proposals for tax  need to be scrutinised and made public . Miliband`s encouraging stance against "predatory capitalism" seems to have disappeared, and the general approach now is much more conciliatory to big business at a time when a large majority are feeling the pinch because of the greed of banks, energy companies, private landlords and such like. Advice from Blairites about being tougher on immigration has to be ignored, as Labour, as Diane Abbott rightly says, can never go to the right enough to sate the demands of Ukip followers.
   Sitting back, waiting for the polls to magically improve, will not do; millions of taxpaying voters have had enough, but are being forced into political lethargy and Ukip`s welcoming arms because Labour isn`t proving to be as different as once promised. It`s still not too late.

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