Despite the best efforts of the Tory tabloid press to paint you as a demonic Red Ed, try as I might, I am having great difficulty distinguishing current Labour Party policies from those of the present coalition government. Now, under Tony Blair's New Labour, that was to be expected, because it quickly became apparent that Tony Blair was happily turning the Labour Government into the Tory second eleven. Of course, I should have known that the moment Rupert Murdoch gave his public blessing to Labour during the 1997 election campaign. But with you taking the helm eleven years later, I genuinely expected something qualitatively different. Instead I am witnessing the unedifying sight of your shadow chancellor bending over backwards to ensure the voters that he will stick to the Tory deficit reduction plans and that government induced austerity will continue for the foreseeable future. This is a particularly depressing scenario.


What is most depressing about Labour's current set of policies is the complete absence of any sense of radicalism, of daring or courage. The whole Labour pre-election package comes across to me as an endeavour to convince the voters that Labour can be as economically conservative as the Conservative Party, that Labour can manage capitalism better than the Tories. In other words, your Labour Party seems to be following in the exact same footsteps of that of the old Blairite governments. A classic example of this conservatism is your recent announcement that Labour will increase the minimum wage to 8 by the end of the next parliament. Have you any idea how pathetically tame and uninspiring that announcement sounds?

To me a radical Labour policy would be to abolish the minimum wage altogether and replace it with a living wage that should start at around 12.50p and that would automatically increase with the cost of living. In so doing, Labour could instantly scrap the entire degrading tax credit system which, I'm sure you would agree, is nothing but a taxpayers subsidy to business. If all businesses were forced to pay their workforce a living wage there would be no need for tax credits and other top-ups.

Similarly, Labour, instead of meekly following the coalition policy of lifting the tax threshold by tiny incremental steps, could act boldly to announce that over one parliament Labour would raise the tax threshold to £20,000 while introducing a sixty percent tax rate for the very top earners. That really would signify Labour's intention to redistribute wealth more evenly; undoing the trend of wealth accumulation for the high earners at the expense of the low and middle earners, a trend set by Mrs Thatcher and enthusiastically continued by successive Blair governments.

An even bolder policy would be to declare the end of unemployment once and for all. Those that want work should be able to work and of course those that don't want to work should not receive any state benefits. A perfectly sound socialist principle. But in order for this radical policy to work, the state must create sufficient jobs for everyone. That may sound somewhat utopian but given the crumbling state of Britain's infrastructure and social services, such a policy really is doable. More public transport, more public housing, and more social and leisure provisions all are desperately needed. Tens of thousands more nurses, teachers, care workers and youth workers are also urgently required, not to mention an army of young engineers, builders and tradesmen. Why pay millions of people unemployment benefits to do nothing when there is so much work to be done. Think bold Mr Miliband, think bold.

And on the subject of housing, why is Labour so servile? This is an area where Labour could really shine. Reintroduce the concept of affordable council housing and watch the highly dangerous housing bubble deflate overnight. Announce a massive building programme on brown-site land immediately a Labour government is elected. Promise to build a million affordable houses and stick to the promise. More jobs will be created, private rents will start to come down and the billions wasted in housing benefit will rapidly shrivel to nothing. And what is housing benefit if not yet another tax-payers subsidy to the landlord class. Housing is a basic human need a basic human right, yet millions of people in Britain are living in fear of homelessness and eviction. Millions more are forced to fork out over half their wages just to keep a roof over their heads. How can a person develop themselves and their families under those conditions? 

Forgive me Mr Miliband for sounding so angry but there really is so much to be done and so little indication that a Labour government will rise to the task. Where, for example, is the Labour policy for transforming Britain's polluting fossil fuel economy to that of a clean, sustainable economy totally based on renewable forms of energy? We could be world leaders in this field, creating whole new industries for future generations. This is really exciting stuff but I don't get any sense of this excitement from current Labour policies. No wonder young people are deserting the Labour Party in droves and switching their votes to the Greens. Get a grip Mr Miliband and inject some excitement and radicalism into the party. If Labour is not going to be radical then why bother at all.

Ed, I think I heard you float the idea of reducing university fees. Not good enough. If the 19thcentury was about universal, free primary education, and the 20thcentury about achieving universal secondary education, then surely the 21st century must be focused on achieving free and universal tertiary education, either academic, vocational or a combination of the two. The key words here are universal and free. If there is one thing that promotes social mobility it is education. If there is one thing certain to retard social mobility it is charging university fees. I suggest you stop tinkering with these fees and scrap the entire rotten system. Open up education for the whole population and make the corporates pay for it. If global capitalism wants an educated workforce, at the very least they should be made to pay for it. Be bold Mr Miliband, be bold.

And while on the theme of being bold, what should your Labour Party be saying about foreign policy? Certainly not mealy mouth platitudes about the Special Relationship that can only lead to repeating the criminal behaviour of the Blair governments. It must be patently obvious by now that the West cannot bomb its way to world domination. It didn't work in Vietnam, it didn't work in Afghanistan and it almost certainly will not work in Iraq, Syria and Libya. The most direct way to promote democracy would be to institute it back home. Make the UK a beacon of democracy and then we can take the moral high-ground. As it stands, all we can offer the world is corporate corruption, corporate lobbying and a pattern of inequality that sees the richest one percent with more wealth than the remaining ninety nine percent. Not much of a model of democracy to be holding up as an example. To paraphrase an old clich, democracy begins at home!

While I'm on my soapbox Mr Miliband, I should say a few words about the NHS. This is the flagship of the Labour Party and the one area the Labour consistently polls better than the Tories. But all I hear you say is that you will boost funding and protect the NHS from Tory privatisation. Fair enough as it goes but not exactly revolutionary. The NHS will never be able to keep pace with Britain's health needs no matter how much money is pumped in. We have an aging population, one whose life expectancy is growing by the year, and one that demands ever greater access to drugs and treatments. So to be really revolutionary, Labour should shift the entire health emphasis from one of treatment to one of prevention.

What is now obviously required is a complete rethink on how we are going to keep ourselves healthy throughout our long years of retirement. Some serious joined up thinking is needed, linking housing, pollution, transport, leisure, and diet. These areas of government are so obviously interrelated and should be approached as a unified whole. If, for example, Labour in government continues to allow the food industry to poison us with lethally high concentrations of salt, fat and sugar, then the NHS will never be able to cope. It will sooner or later become overwhelmed. It's health in the community that is now required, with the NHS leading the way in education and local provision. The only people to benefit from a medication first approach are the big pharmaceuticals. Ed, you really must have the courage to stand up to these avaricious corporate interests or nothing will ever change. 

Of all the many disappointments I feel about Labour, it is its failure to admit past mistakes. There is nothing wrong in admitting Labour got things wrong. Come out and say openly; we were wrong about supporting student university fees, we were wrong to go to war against Iraq, and we were definitely wrong about light touch regulation of the banking industry. Don't be mealy mouthed about it. You will find that voters respond to a dose of honesty- a rare thing in politics these days.

And while you're trying out the honesty thing, why not try dropping the arrogance at the same time. Instead of dismissing the idea of coalition government, why not embrace the idea. What's wrong with governing in coalition with the Green Party and other progressive parties of the left? No one party has all the answers so why not be a little more humble in this respect. Let's face it; Labour in office has not exactly been a radical triumph recently, what with illegal foreign wars, cuddling up to the big corporates, and supporting other Tory imposed policies.

Well Mr Miliband, I've got some of these things off my chest and I feel a little bit better for it. To be perfectly honest I don't have much confidence in you and your party changing course at this point of the proceedings. Perhaps if Labour gets another drubbing at the polls then some more radical thinking may find its way into the party though you will probably not be there to lead it. Of course a worse scenario is that Labour get elected on a very slim majority or with no majority at all and the Party just limps on in government too scared to put a foot out of line for fear of the Daily Mail and the rest of the Tory press. As for me, I'm sorely tempted to take Russell Band's advice and not vote at all. It goes against the grain to think this way but if the only real choice is tweedle dee or tweedle dumb then it all becomes rather pointless. Don't you agree?

Looking forward to your early reply,

Yours sincerely, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

End. Copyright JPK 19/1/15

Last Updated ( Monday, 21 May 2018 07:23 )