Friday, 16 October 2009

Back to the Labour Future

Under the guise of “Labour Future” New Labour’s right wing have issued a series of policy pamphlets to, in their words, “counter the impression that Labour is intellectually exhausted”. 

To be fair the initiative at least frames itself in the context of the challenge of Climate Change. Nevertheless if you were to draw up a radical agenda for saving Labour from years in the wilderness, would you really start here? 

Some thoughts on the key points drawn from the published documents (yes god help me I did read them)… 

Sensible and responsible banking structures and a strong role for mutuals. 
(Ok, not sure what this means, attack tax havens? Regulate exec pay, intervene to support mutuals in the market place? Give the FSA some balls? Stop ex bankers running the FSA like a club? Ban MP’s from bank exec boards? Put union reps on bank exec boards- where is the meat?) 

All- ethnic minority short lists for MP selection 
(Ok, but as the women only short list proves, unless you allow more party democracy and grassroots input into selection procedures you will get more loyalist robots) 

Constitutional definition of the basic social rights to which the citizen is entitled, and a means of enforcing them. 
(So no new rights then?) 

The NHS has to be empowered with data and willingness to penalise poor performance in hospitals and primary care 
(So more market discipline then?) 

Scrap Trident and some investment in the London airports 
(Ok, now were cooking!) 

Far less rigid approach to public spending is required, including fixing public sector pay and pensions 
(Daw…By fixing you presumably mean cutting?) 

State organisations should be given more independence. Each one should have a tight rolling three-year budget without constant changes of funding formulae
(More privatization by stealth) 

Performance incentives of public sector employees 
(Screw over the public sector ethos and introduce performance related pay, because we are all selfish individuals after all- favour bullying managers and the young, screw the tired mothers, older workers, bereaved or sick) 

Creating a fair system of prisons and probation 
(What does that mean?) 

Fixed-term parliaments 
(Ok , not that exciting tho) 

Finishing reform of the Lords 
(So more unelected union busters running the government then?) 

Restoring the balance between national and local government. 
(Unclear on how?) 

Offer a zero VAT rate on all domestic insulation and energy-efficient products. 
(About time!) 

Provide some financial support for schemes to make homes more energy-efficient. 
(Already happening, or was then wasn’t, are you paying attention? This is not new thinking ) 

Cut VAT to 5 per cent for all repair and maintenance work on homes. 

Rechannelling funds from the child tax credits and childcare tax credits system would take us away from complex state bureaucracies toward easily understood universal entitlements. 
(Not sure I understand, universal benefits or targeted benefits, which and how?) 

Long-term shift of spending to the Army (and ground support) from strategic nuclear defence and the Navy and Air Force
(More economic conscription for unwinnable wars) 

Europe as a positive, win-win situation for both British and progressive politics
(So in fact less democracy, support Euro trade block presided over by President Blair) 

Marks?... 3/10

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