The Labour Party’s recent history is as a government of war, privatisation, commerce and attacks on civil liberties.
Just trying to present a slightly different flavour of the Tory Government’s policies will not see Labour back into power. Mealy mouth acceptance of the “need for cuts” or promises confined to adjustments to Tory policies won’t cut it. Under those circumstances, why would anyone think voting Labour would bring anything much better?
Take one example, the promise on VAT. This is apparently to “temporarily reverse” the Tory VAT hike. Temporarily. Was nothing learned from the 10% tax rate fiasco? However much you might explain in advance that a tax reduction is temporary, when it comes to putting it up again, you have raised taxes! Failure to grasp this simple point cost us thousands of council seats in 2008 and massively dented faith in Labour’s willingness to protect the people who we represent.
Yet there is no need to be so fearfully cautious. You could easily pay for VAT reductions, fuel duty reductions, more public spending by collecting just a proportion of the £120 billion lost each year in evaded, avoided, late and unpaid taxes (see PCS analysis).
The electorate expected the last Labour Government to do what the Tories do so well: represent the interests of their tribe. With some timid exceptions, from 1997 Labour wasted massive Parliamentary majorities doing not much more than marking time for the Tories for over 12 years, keeping their policies warm.
The electorate want – they expect – a Labour Government that will change things. And it really isn’t rocket science. The sort of programme the British people want to see is simple:
- Stop slashing jobs and services
- Cut vehicle fuel taxes
- Build low cost housing
- Utilities, rail and buses back into public control
- Stop the likes of the bankers and energy companies ripping us off
- Protect our way of life
Very straightforward. Having seen the sums of money Labour was prepared to commit to bale out the bankers, no one will ever again believe this simple programme in not affordable! So if Labour leaders will not act like Labour leaders, will not make changes in the way the British people expect, what is the conclusion? That they prefer to avoid change, to keep on marking time between Tory governments.
That being the case, Len McCluskey of Unite must be right: time for the cuckoos to be thrown out of the Labour nest.