Forest of Dean & Wye Valley

WHERE NEXT FOR LABOUR?

In T. Chinnick on December 6, 2011 at 3:41 pm

asks TYLER CHINNICK

Over the past year, the Labour Party has been inviting people, members and non-members alike, to give their ideas for the future direction of the Party.

New Labour always held that any move to the left would make the party “less electable”. But there are many policies to the left of current orthodoxy that I think would make the Party more, not less, electable. Here are some of them.

MPs should receive the national average  wage.

Failing this, their earnings should be linked to the minimum wage. Politicians, when they are elected, lose touch with the hardships of life as most people live it. Earning a national average wage would make MPs much more aware of life as we live it, and thus more able to represent our interests.

Re-nationalise the railways.

A “yougov” poll conducted in 2009 showed 70 per cent support for re-nationalisation. It would not only be popular, it would also save us money. We’ve spent nearly four times the amount subsidising private industries than we ever gave to the industry when it was in public hands.

Bring NHS cleaning services back under public control.

There is a clear correlation between those hospitals where the cleaning staff are contracted out and high rates of MRSA. And end the ludicrous charade of PFI/PPP. As far as I’m aware, the only other political leader to try the “buy now pay much later” approach was Mussolini. I don’t think we should be following his example!

Introduce a “Robin Hood” tax.  

Charged at a measly quarter of a per cent on those financial transactions that do not involve the public, this would raise an estimated £100 to £200 billion. This is fair, practical and popular, and is supported by many mainstream figures.

Scrap Trident.

It’s a “deterrent” designed for the Cold War and has no relevance today. We’re told that the main threat we face to our national security is from global terrorism, against which Trident is useless.

Crack down on tax avoidance and evasion.

It’s not impossible, as the Tories claim – and it has overwhelming public support. Tax havens should face a cooling of political, diplomatic and trade relations. It they continue to act as they do, they should receive the same kind of treatment as other rogue states, such as sanctions or freezing of assets.

Keep the Royal Mail public.

Privatisation will inevitably lead to a massive deterioration in the service and won’t save us money.

A referendum on the EU.

The European Union is undemocratic and enforces the same neo-liberal market orthodoxy that has ruined so many western countries in recent years. In the early days of the EEC, it was Labour who were most vocal in opposition. Now the only criticism we hear comes from the Right and is usually accompanied by scarcely concealed xenophobia.

Build more Council Houses.

The building sector was hard hit by the recession and there is a massive need for affordable housing. Why not kill two birds with one stone? Before the last election there were even some Tories talking about the need for more social housing. And when the Tories say we need more council houses, then you know we need more council houses!

Scrap university tuition fees and reinstate the EMA.

Or, at the very least, reduce them. Education is a right, not a privilege. Labour should become a party for young people once again.

Electoral reform.

The fact that in the 21st century, half our government is unelected is outrageous. The House of Lords needs to be democratically elected (preferably by PR) – or abolished altogether.

A new Green deal.

Ed Balls in an interview with the CWU paper Voice said that the road to recovery was through Keynesian economics. What better way to resurrect the economy than by embarking on a massive building project to create the energy of tomorrow? This could be partly funded by ending subsidies to the arms industry. It’s the most heavily subsidised industry in Britain costing taxpayers £851.91 million a year. It’s obscene that so much is spent on creating devices of torture and death when it could be spent on green energy.

Make public services more democratic.

Why shouldn’t workers in the public sector who know their industries have a say in who runs the service and how? Nurses, teachers and many other public sector workers have a huge wealth of knowledge that currently goes untapped.

An ethical foreign policy.

Which would involve: withdrawing support from regimes such as Saudi Arabia (whilst possibly ending our dependency on oil). Ending complicity in torture, and not invading countries which do not threaten us.

Reforming the media.

The media have made it perfectly clear over recent years that they are unable to regulate themselves. The Press Complaints Commission therefore needs to be independent of the industry, and made much stronger – with real sanctions, particularly fines, which they are unafraid to use. A law such as “one man, one newspaper”, or a ban on foreign ownership of British media should be introduced. The kind of monopolies that exist in the media world today not only endanger free speech and democracy, but also inevitably lead to heinous abuse.

Just a few of these policies would be enough to secure a Labour victory at the next election, and they would all, without exception, have an enormously positive effect.

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  1. […] Chinnick sets out an inspiring programme in his “What Next for Labour” article. Sadly, at the present time it is no more ace than the Socialist Party programme. […]

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