Labour’s big weekend – and re-orientation of what it means to be Labour

19th July, 2014 2:41 pm

Ed Miliband’s speech to the National Policy Forum this morning was the media centrepiece of this weekend’s activity in Milton Keynes. That of course belies the fact that amendment meetings taking place across this sprawling conference centre are hammering out some of the policy detail and direction that will shape the party’s campaign – and the agenda for a potential Labour government.

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It was a strong speech. Unashamedly Labour, passionate about the need to tackle exploitation and deliver an offer to the British people that is innovative and credible – whilst operating in a difficult financial climate. And that’s been reflected in the discussions that have taken place in Milton Keynes so far this weekend. The mood appears – on the whole – upbeat. Considering the gravity of some of the debates here – and that major spending commitments are still largely off the agenda – there’s been a great deal of progress with remarkably little acrimony.

Of course that doesn’t mean there haven’t been disagreements. The final contours of a Labour policy on rail are still being hammered out. Debate on Universal Free School Meals for Primary School kids (a Labour policy in local government before the Lib Dems sought to claim it) and Trident have required work and sweat to reach something approaching consensus.

But on the whole, delegates here seem united around a re-orientated vision of what the Labour Party can and should do in government. And that’s something that can’t be turned back from now.

If I’d argued three years ago that we’d see the Labour Party in all its various shades and stripes broadly uniting around prevention, devolution of power, and the idea that the state can still be interventionist without writing big cheques, I’d have been laughed out of town. Indeed, I’d have never made such an argument because I never thought that was possible.

And yet here we are – that is, by and large, the position the party finds itself. Centralisation is increasingly becoming a negative buzzword around the venue. Those pushing for spending commitments are largely ensuring that the proposals they bring are fully costed and in some cases cost neutral. No-one is asking for the electorate to be offered a “free pony”. And that’s indicative of a real maturity in the way that delegates have approached this weekend. That maturity has largely been matched by the leadership too, as they seek to build consensus around Miliband’s new party platform.

So far so good then. The housing amendment especially – which could see Labour committing to a million new homes being built over the course of the new parliament – looks impressive in its boldness and scope. We’re yet to see what the final offer on the huge subject of health and social care will look like, but there’s consensus that a merging of the two must be a part of Labour’s sustainable plan for both.

Of course there are always rows on the margins, issues which no-one suspects will be a huge issue that could become one (the debate about boycotting goods from Israeli settlements could be one of those) – and I’ll continue to bring you all the detail I can get my hands on in our liveblog over the next 24 hours.

But things are running far more smoothly and amicably than might have been expected.

But what comes next?

What can’t happen is for the manifesto process that follows to exist in sweet isolation from this policy process that has come before. The NPF papers can’t just end up being filed away in a box in Brewer’s Green. In fact, this process must now continue through to manifesto. NPF reps should be organisers for the manifesto process, linking the leadership with the grassroots whilst refining and expanding the scope of Labour’s offer – and ensuring that this manifesto is owned by the party, with thousands of fingerprints on it, rather than just a handful.

The answer to the question – who writes Labour’s manifesto? – can’t just be Jon Cruddas or any other individual, it must be the party as a whole.

The drama (If that’s the right word) will continue. But a pledge card for 2015 is beginning to take shape:

  • a million homes
  • a new deal on rail ownership
  • a higher (living?) minimum wage
  • devolution to towns and cities
  • tackling energy prices

As a pledge card that knocks 1997 into a cocked hat. And whilst I still think there’s considerable scope for greater radicalism in the months ahead, that’s far from a bad start. it may even be the most radical manifesto Labour has had in decades. And all of in the context of a Labour Party that is beginning to radically re-orientated the way in which it thinks about spending and the state.

The Labour Party has (so far) had far worse weekends than this.

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  • Mike B

    ‘A new deal on rail ownership’ is too vague and ‘Devolution to towns and cities’ must address the democratic deficit created by over centralised government and
    mayoralties. Still it is a start.

  • Dan

    Where is the money for a million new homes going to come from, if they’re committed to a budget surplus and no serious tax rises? This is what I still just don’t grasp, the idea that “credibility” apparently means claiming to people that we can get socialist programmes and ideas for free with no money being spent, as opposed to the supposedly left-wing “Old Labour” way of saying you have to spend money to get socialist programmes.

    A guarantee for a higher minimum wage would certainly be worthwhile, but has that been pledged? What they’ve said so far (“encouraging” employers to pay a higher wage) is far too woolly and sounds like typical unreliable politics-speak, and would not be worth putting on any pledge card.

    • David Lewis

      The minimum wage fuels unemployment and only helps those who already have jobs.

      Why do so few people understand this?

      • Hamish Dewar

        Evidence? For your first statement I mean.

        • David Lewis

          Are you serious? It is basis common sense. If a firm wants to employ a bunch of low skilled workers they always have a recruitment budget.

          Simple arithmetic.

          It was Balls who had the courage to advise against the minimum wage at inception for this obvious reason but never mentions it now. I rather admire him for it though.

          • PoundInYourPocket

            nonesense

          • David Lewis

            If you have a fixed employment budget as firms always do, if they want to stay in business, then logically the lower the wages the more people can be employed.

            Did you take GCSE maths?

          • crackenthorp

            codswallop..

          • treborc1

            Nope I took A level maths is that OK…. and your still singing from the Tory hymn book mate.

          • Dave Postles

            Good job it wasn’t maths at university – that’s where the trouble started in financial services and with Chicago school economists – although even then some distinguished economists cocked up the spreadsheet.

          • treborc1

            Few economists in all political parties. who have issues seeing anything.

          • PoundInYourPocket

            You’re applying simplistic so called “common sense” to a more complex problem. If you were genuinely interested you could read the numerous reports showing what I said earlier , that there is no simplistic link between employment levels and the minimum wage.

          • David Lewis

            Well Ed Ballas when he campaigned against it for the same reason (look it up) disagrees or at least disagreed with you.

          • MonkeyBot5000

            You’re defending your position by referencing a man who is clearly an arse and you can’t even spell his name right.

            “Your English is terrible and your thought processes non existent.”

          • David Lewis

            Yes I cannot deny both parts of your post! My typing is terrible these days.

          • Danny

            Not only your typing.

          • David Lewis

            Oooooh. The intellectual standards here always impress!

          • treborc1

            Pissed again.

          • MonkeyBot5000

            You cannot deny both parts, can you deny either individually?

            Or are you all trolled out?

          • PoundInYourPocket

            I’m not talking about the ideology or principle, just the research data acquired after the introduction of the Min Wage in 97. The Tories were adamant that it would increase unemployment and were quick off the mark to commission research to prove the point. The Tory predicted increase in unemployment wasn’t observed. That’s historical fact. The same arguments were made just recently in Germany by opponents in the CDP.

          • David Lewis

            Ah. The first sensible post on the subject.

            Thank you. That is very interesting and I will look into it.

          • gunnerbear

            PIYP,
            I think there were some in the Blue Mob who were concerned about the introduction of the NMW but I think some of that concern was driven by stories that seemed to indicated that the Labour govt. wanted a very high NMW.
            Once a sensible level was set – in a period of a ‘boom’ (however created) – the majority in the country felt it was a good idea (as did most reasonable politicians on all sides). Yes, there were idiots on all sides demanding high and no NMW.
            I think we’re going to see the same sort of debate soon. Not so much about if there should be a rise but how much. I expect the usual suspects like the TUs and CBI, FSB etc. to ‘chip in loudly’.

          • Dave Postles

            Balls long ago abandoned Keynesian aggregate demand. Miliband: please ignore Sennett and take more notice of Robert and Edward Skidelsky, How Much Is Enough? Money and the Good Life (2013 edn).

          • David Lewis

            Is he a Hayek disciple now? supply side reforms and all that?

            I hope so because my main fear is Balls in the treasury.

          • MonkeyBot5000

            “If you have a fixed employment budget as firms always do”

            I do not have a fixed employment budget. I don’t even know what an “employment budget” is. Taking on new staff is expansion, it’s not a monthly budget item like travel or printing costs.

            “Did you take GCSE maths?”

            Have you ever run a business?

          • Dave Postles

            The point about Henry Ford’s higher wages was that he had such a terrible turnover on the production lines – constantly losing workers when there was fuller employment. So he raised the wages to retain people. Poor pay is a cause of dissatisfaction. Other forms of investment in people (training, Herzberg theory, human resource management) are motivational factors (with costs). Investment in people was not an empty slogan until it was trumped by ‘shareholder value’ and private equity suction.

          • PeterBarnard

            I think that another reason (possibly, the prime reason) was that Henry Ford had invested in an awful lot of capital for his new Model T production line, and the last thing that he wanted was stoppages due to absenteeism, and disputes about conditions.

            What Mr Lewis does not seem to realise is that there are three factors of production : land, labour and capital.

            Without an increase in capital equipment available to labour, no matter how low the wages labour offers to work for, the capital equipment simply is not there to accommodate the increased work force that Mr Lewis thinks will, magically, be employed.

          • Dave Postles

            Yes.

          • Alexwilliamz

            Herzberg, was advised to give him a read, probably long overdue thanks for the unintentional reminder Dave.

          • treborc1

            What fecking idiot up voted you on this, god almight I’ve never heard so much Tory bullshit, even Cameron would have a good laugh at that one.

          • David Lewis

            Look it up and come back and apologise.

          • crackenthorp

            codswallop,

          • treborc1

            Apologies for what reading the tripe you have been putting up on here, you’ll be waiting one hell of a long time.

          • David Lewis

            Your English is terrible and your thought processes non existent.

          • treborc1

            Still makes you a Tory troll even if I spoke Irish…

          • crackenthorp

            codswallop.

          • MonkeyBot5000

            “If a firm wants to employ a bunch of low skilled workers they always have a recruitment budget.”

            Where? Seriously, where’s my recruitment budget? Is it behind the sofa?

            If I’d known there was a recruitment budget that magically appears when you start a business, I’d have been spending it.

          • treborc1

            And he goes to the labour exchange, Jesus he’s older then Disraeli…

          • Alexwilliamz

            Any argument that has to make recourse to basic common sense, is either paradoxical because if it was common sense everyone would agree, if some don’t then it is no longer common, or suggests that it lacks a structured argument to underpin it. At the least it would need you to either set out some basic axioms which you consider self evident, or your statement itself was self evident (refer to original flaw).

          • David Lewis

            Common sense or natural logic as it is known academically is not a common feature of all humanity.

            There are many amongst us whom are not terribly bright and lack the ability to apply the tenets of natural logic.

            You of course may have evidence to the contrary but it does seem doubtful..

          • Alexwilliamz

            Natural logic? Is that different to logic? I’m pretty sure the phrase common sense is usually meant in the context of common to all reasonably minded people. I presume you therefore maintain that anyone disagreeing with what you claim to be common sense is not reasonably minded. Really it is a pretty unhelpful phrase and it is better to suggest that something is either self evident or if that is not the case at least a suggestion as to the reasons why you would consider a statement to be ‘without question’ as you seem to believe your original statement was.

          • David Lewis

            Not bad apart from ending the sentence as you did.

            Natural logic is the phrase used in philosophy faculties to denote the idea of common opinion or common sense ascribed to so called `right thinking’ people.. Clearly and you are right it is unhelpful since it cannot reasonably be applied to all.

            And nothing of course is `self-evident’ even though politicians allege the contrary.

          • Alexwilliamz

            You seem to suggest that firms employ workers, because they want to rather than as a necessity i.e. they require those workers to perform a job required to make their business work?

          • David Lewis

            I did not mean to suggest that. Firms recruit because they feel a need to.

        • BillFrancisOConnor

          Yeah he doesn’t do evidence Hamish.

      • PoundInYourPocket

        Most Tories “understand” it, but anyone that recalls the debates in 97 and has read the follow on research knows it isn’t true. The minimum wage does not affect employment levels.

        • David Lewis

          Hilarious. Hardly controversial – simple arithmetic

          • i_bid

            Hardly controversial? lol I think about 92% of the population disagree with you, the last time I seen a poll about it.

            Also, having higher employment is effectively worthless if it’s brought by undermining everyone’s wages to the point where they’re well below subsistence. Employment only has value because it offers people a living.

          • David Lewis

            Quite correct and I don’t disagree with you for a moment but that is an associated subject. The point I made was that the minimum wage is a cause of unemployment and it only benefits those already in work. The higher the minimum wage, the less is the incentive for an employer to employ more people.

            Simple logic lost on some here. and anyway all employers of low and unskilled employees know this well.

          • crackenthorp

            codswallop

          • MonkeyBot5000

            “The higher the minimum wage, the less is the incentive for an employer to employ more people.”

            When was the last time you hired someone?

            The incentive to hire more people is the potential of making more money. If I pay £Xph and the employee produces £Yph of goods/services, then as long as £Y-£X is larger that the value of the materials I have to put in, I’m in profit.

            That calculation holds true for current and future employees and changing the minimum wage changes your profit per employee hour. As long as there is a market for the goods/services you provide and you have the capital to expand, more employees = more product = more profit.

            You also have to take in to account the facts that a minimum wage employee getting more money means less money needed to top up their income through benefits and more money in their pocket means more potential sales for businesses like mine.

            The problem with “simple” logic is that the world is not simple and never has been.

          • David Lewis

            I started my first company in April 1976 and retired six months ago.

            I estimate in the seven companies I ran, to have employed around 750 people.

          • Doug Smith

            Pull the other one.

            You wouldn’t have got it so wrong if you actually had business experience.

          • David Lewis

            I started my own company after having been sacked from a company called Coates Brothers in St Mary Cray for mentioning salaries at a works relations committee meeting.

            I signed on at Coldharbor Lane Brixton Labour Exchange.

            I then worked for various firms until 1975 after which I started a small firm.

            It took me five years to make a profit but after that things got easier.

          • Doug Smith

            And then you woke up…

          • treborc1

            I worked for my self for 20 years mainly for one contractor, but I always paid a decent rate of pay to get decent workers, I would never ever go to the Job centre. and if you went to the labour exchange when they hell was that. in the 1990’s the Tories brought in the Job centre and Blair’s lot brought in Job Centre plus.

            I can see that your on a task here working for the Tories, and again trying to cause a bit of fuss, but your the worse Tory Troll I’ve seen.

          • David Lewis

            I voted UKIP. I signed on in Brixton about 1966/7.

          • MonkeyBot5000

            Five years to make Money In larger than Money Out.

            I’m so glad we have you here to spread your business acumen.

          • David Lewis

            Five years in a new business is pretty good going.I though it would take about seven to make a clear operating profit.

          • MonkeyBot5000

            Probably a result of you putting regular outlay (wages) together with one time investments (recruitment costs) and treating it all as one line item in your budget.

          • treborc1

            If he has run seven companies when most of us are lucky to have one, imagine the poor sods down the labour exchange, yes he gone bust again, yes and again, and a again and again please do not send me back I cannot take it….

          • Doug,

            No he could have done. A business person only has to look after his own business. A business person wants his own workers to be paid as little as possible but he wants other workers to be well paid so they have the money to be good customers.

            There’s a tendency towards a fallacy of composition that needs a bit of intelligence to spot. For instance I can get a better view at a football match if I stand up. So everyone can get a better view if they stand too?

            Of course we can all see that one. But, not everyone can understand that because one person is more likely to be offered a job if they reduce their wages, it won’t work the same if everyone reduces their wages.

          • PoundInYourPocket

            poor bastards.

          • PeterBarnard

            I suppose Mr Lewis would have dissuaded Henry Ford from introducing his $5 a day wage in 1914 (when the going rate was $2.50 a day).

            According to N Gregory Mankiw (no socialist, he ….) in his “Principles of Economics”), an historian of the Ford Motor Company wrote, “Ford and his associates declared on many occasions that the high-wage policy turned out to be good business …. “)

            I don’t suppose Henry Ford was a socialist, either.

          • gunnerbear

            Henry Ford had sunk millions into his production line….the last thing he wanted was stoppages or a high turnover of staff so he paid his staff more thus saving cash in the long term.

          • PeterBarnard

            Exactly – that’s what I say further down the line.

          • gunnerbear

            Apologies PB, missed your comment.

          • PeterBarnard

            That’s ok. GB …. the Good Lord only ever made one perfect person, and that was about 2,014 years ago.

        • PIYP and David Lewis,

          There has been a fair bit of talk about simple arithmetic with respect to the minimum wage. The simple arithmetical fact is that everyone who has earned money in the economy has to spend it for everything that has been produced and is for sale in that economy to clear.

          That would include all capital gains, all wages, all profits. If there is a net tendency to save some money or a net tendency to spend in a different economy then everything won’t clear and unemployment will result unless Government uses its power to regulate demand by deficit spending.

        • gunnerbear

          That is true to a point, provided the NMW is not set to high i.e. a person is being paid more than the company can afford. For example, I buy ink cartridges from a UK company as the service is good even if the price is a bit higher than say on Amazon.
          However, if you drive up wages so the UK based ink company faces huge extra costs then either (a) they keep prices down by cutting their cost base and getting rid of someone or (b) put up their prices to cover additional costs and hope the customer lives with it.
          I think personally, the NMW should go up but I do not a huge jump in one go and I also think that govt. should spend less and only spend on UK subjects so if HMG spends less, taxes can come down as waste and non-essential spend is cut.
          Thus everyone’s wages go a bit further.

      • No. Unemployment and recession caused by a lack of purchasing power. A minimum wage increases purchasing power thereby creating employment.

        Why don’t you understand this?

      • Theoderic Braun

        Presuming that you are against seeing multitudes of working people falling into abject poverty and homelessness, implicitly, you must approve of high in-work top-up benefits. Yes? No? And if “no” then what benefit would there be for the poor? They would face extreme difficulty whether in work or out of work? As would the economy with legions of the population not be earning enough of a wage to pay any or much direct tax. The perfect storm, eh? Ultra-high welfare costs coupled with low tax receipts from direct (too poor to pay any) and indirect taxes (too poor to buy anything) received from the working population. Lurvely!

    • JoeDM

      Didn’t you listen to Hattie last week ?

      Labour are gong to increase taxes on the hardworking squeezed middle income families !!!

      • David Lewis

        A very good way to win an election.

      • Dave Postles

        You should re-read what she actually said rather than relying on The Daily Mail spin.

        • treborc1

          That is true, but it was a stupid thing to allow to happen, and it took Miliband unaware .

          But she was on about high rate tax earners paying more, like the 5p which could bankrupt the rich and well off.

          • PoundInYourPocket

            That 5p pays for Gemima’s second pony !

          • gunnerbear

            No, she spoke about middle earners. Middle earners defined by her boss as being those that earn around £26K….not sure many people on £26K have a pony.

      • PoundInYourPocket

        “I think that actually the idea that there are some things that help
        people on low incomes and others that help people on middle incomes, yes – I think people on middle incomes should contribute more through their taxes, but actually they need those public services like the transport system.”

        • gunnerbear

          And her boss carefully defined middle income as being £25k thus HH thinks that people on £25k should pay lots more.

          I wonder how many people on £25K think of themselves as well off, never mind ‘rich’?

          • treborc1

            Flaming none.,

          • Dave Postles

            Depends on your lifecourse stage. If I had £25k income now, I would count myself very blessed (but I’m happy with what I have – which is why I’m happy to pay more tax for the common good and to recognize the benefits which I have received). No kids is a good start.

    • jaime taurosangastre candelas

      And not only the money for the new homes, but the fact that 900,000 will be built in the South East or London, because that is where demand is. Which will not go down well at all in Labour’s northern heartlands.

      • swatnan

        Excellent point. We need proper Regional Govts planning for their own Regions; thats proper devolution for you. Lets get away from Westminster thinking they know it all. And those 1m homes don’t get built at the click of the fingers, but by releasing land from the Green Belt, modernising the antiquated planning syste, and taking on NIMBYISM head on. We’ve seen the powerful voice of the Nimbys lobby in the HS2 Debate. As for the ‘money’ … there will always be money to build homes, because bricks and mortar are these days seen as investment schemes not as places to provide shelter and rest your weary head.

        • jaime taurosangastre candelas

          I agree with you, up to the end of where you said “excellent point”. After that, you and I disagree.

          Regional or local Government is crass, and attracts idiots. Look at Boris. What is needed is central Government looking regionally and holistically.

          • swatnan

            the point is that you’ll never get central govt looking regionally and hoistically. we need to get away from Westminster. Thats why Scottish Welsh Ni and London devolution is the way forward. Local Govt attracts amateurs and we could do with more amateurs with training taking decision. But I agree on one thing, Boris is an idiot.

          • jaime taurosangastre candelas

            OK, tell me to where I should address my allegiance?

            I live in Cambridgeshire, which is relentlessly Tory, and most non Tory votes go to UKIP. I feel zero allegiance to either the City of Cambridge, nor to the East of England region. I have no desire to be associated with Kettering or Corby, both dreary dirty and nasty places, nor to Southend or Hunstanton, also both cheap and nasty tourist traps. As for Peterborough, it is bloody Godawful.

            I think I would actually pay money not to have to live in Kettering, Corby, Southend or Hunstanton. So why should I feel some regional localism to them?

          • swatnan

            You should be so lucky; Cambridge is at the heart of the Eastern Region! Its a hive of industry reseach and the Arts. Could well be the seat of any future Regional Paliament! And Cambridge City is Labour controlled. I’m also in the Eastern Region, Essex which is also a hive of industry too. The Shires unfortunately will always be Tory. Southend’s not all that bad especially on weekends like this, and Hunstanton, and Cromer and Yarmouth and Southwold. lump the 6 Counties together and you have a fantastic package. Even Peterboro has its good points. We can create an Eastern identity, if we try.

          • jaime taurosangastre candelas

            You miss my point.

            It does not matter where you live, that is temporal.

            I owe my allegiance, in order, to my God, my wife, my family and to my country. Nasty little coastal towns do not get a look in. I am not interested in regionalism, I think it a waste of time and money. I would rather address Westminster than Cambridge.

          • swatnan

            And my point is that Westminster has shut the door in your face; they’re not listening. They are wasting your taxes. Coastal towns need our support; people live there and depend on tourism.

          • MikeHomfray

            Yes, but thats not the case for the north. There are definitely identities for the north as a whole, the north-west as a region, and the Liverpool city conurbation. Strong ones. Your region is too close to London to have that sort of identity

          • gunnerbear

            “There are definitely identities for the north as a whole”
            And where would you draw those boundaries for ‘the North”?

          • PoundInYourPocket

            I think “regionalism” is something to be very wary of , and to me Spain is an example of how a country can find itself sub-divided down to the point where regions are in competition with one another rather than cooperating in the national interest. Regionalism just adds layers of needless bureacracy and encourages old enmities between regions. It’s small minded nationalism on a local level with each region waving its flag at the others. I’m proud of where I come from in the north but the thought of a Yorkshire State led by Geoff Boycott fills me with horror. Cruddas and others are pursuing this regional agenda as they see it as a way of reshaping politics. Buiding new identities. But it’s a destructive path to follow and one that we thankfully moved away from after numerous bloody battles. I’ve no desire to re-enact the war of the roses with those in Lancasire.

          • MikeHomfray

            I don’t agree – I think there is definitely too much domination from London

          • PoundInYourPocket

            It depends what we are talking about.
            I’d like to see local authorities given more decision making , revenue raising and spending powers. Providing there are adequate levels of scrutiny and accountability to stop the rotton-boroughs. If that’s what is meant by “devolution” I’m in favour.
            But I’m against the “regionalisation” of the country in which England could be split into devolved regions as I see this ending up like Spain where power centres compete with each other. It would lead to duplicated bureaucracies, envy and hostility between regions; each waving their own flag. It’s a dreadful regressive notion. And as for an English parliamnent. No. the strength of the UK is it’s diversity, devolution was a mistake from the start and has encouraged the Scots to go for full independence.

          • Dave Postles

            We need the return of the RDAs as well as more permissive capital borrowing by local authorities. The LEPs are useless.

          • PoundInYourPocket

            Agreed. My objection is of those that talk about regional devolution in terms of the re-establishemnt of the shire-kingdoms with flags at the ready. I thought the RDA’s were very effective, just needed a little more oversight to rein in the gravy-train aspects. But LEPS are deficient in oversight and transparency. Who are they accountable to and how are business members appointed etc.

          • MikeHomfray

            It seems to work very well in Germany, though, where the Lander have significant devolved powers.
            Spain is slightly different because so many of its regions are not very committed to staying Spanish – Basque country, Catalonia – even I don’t think the north-west should declare UDI

            The other thing we need to remember is that European funding and so on is a regional business – Europe does work on the basis of region.

          • PoundInYourPocket

            The Lander pre-date the German nation which is a recent creation, so it works in Germany because that’s the way it has been since the middle-ages. Any regionalisation of the UK would be a modern day administation excercise that wouldn’t have the same meaning. But – I agree that the regions need more investment and a way of developing their own infrastructure, but I don’t think this necessitates a federal structure with another layer of bureacracy. England feels too small to be split into German or Spanish style federal regions.

          • Alexwilliamz

            Only because you know you’d lose!
            :cough:

          • Danny

            Fu*k off would Cambridge be the seat of a regional parliament. Norwich is the capital of the East of England.

          • MonkeyBot5000

            The East and the Midlands can both get stuffed. Independence for Peterborough!

          • swatnan

            Chelmsford or Colchester has the bigger claim; it was Colchester ere the first Roman settlements and East Anglia Administration began. even Boudica I think emanated from around there, Quieen of the Angles, she attacked the Roman forts with a vengegence, laid seige to them and burnt tihe Romans to a cinder.

          • gunnerbear

            And thus the argument starts. If you lot want h******t extra, costly, non effective govt. fair enough, pay those extra taxes, but don’t inflict it on the rest of us.

          • MonkeyBot5000

            “As for Peterborough, it is bloody Godawful.”

            Cheers!

            Cambridge only exists because there was some water in the way between London to Lincoln. We may be godawful, but at least we’re more than a bridge with pretensions.

            😉

          • Dave Postles

            Thanks for the reminder – must view again my DVD of Porterhouse Blue.

          • BillFrancisOConnor

            Hunstanton may be less than perfect but what about the surrounding villages like Brancaster or Holkham -delightful places IMHO.
            Of course the trouble is Jaime you come from Chile. I’ve been to Chile and I think it is one of the most beautiful places on the planet second perhaps only to Argentina ( I mean in terms of the physical beauty of the landscape). The only drawback for both countries is that periodically they have produced nasty, fascist governments who have engaged in the routine use of torture and murder for political ends. You’ve got high standards Jaime – you might benefit from lowering your standards a bit. By the way Cambridge is a beautiful, refined and elegant city- even by Chilean standards if you don’t believe me check out Osorno next time you go which is a place I’d pay money not to have to live in.

          • gunnerbear

            “By the way Cambridge is a beautiful, refined and elegant city-”
            That’s the bit the tourists go to. When was the last time you went to the housing estates on the rim of the city?

          • Alexwilliamz

            Move to a different region?

            :COUGH:

          • MikeHomfray

            Local government hasn’t any power, which is why many good people within it have taken their bat and ball home.

            Oh, and Boris is an idiot.

          • swatnan

            How can that be when its Local Govt, Councils and Officers and Public Employees that actually keeps Britain moving, and not the MP’s, who think they do but in fact don’t.

        • Alexwilliamz

          We don;t need regional govts, we need MPs to represent their regions properly.

      • MikeHomfray

        To be frank, if that’s where the demand is, then what’s the problem? To an extent we up north are very happy to have our lower housing costs and better standard of living for the same money. The main problem up here is empty housing because of the bedroom tax, but thats going in any case.
        I think that there will always be an issue with regard to the dominance of London, and as a result, it is likely that public sector initiatives will always be prominent in any Northern jobs strategy. The shift from industry and trade to financial services skewed the private sector towards proximity to London.

        • RegisteredHere

          It’s a problem if we have a tidal surge that gets redirected into Essex to protect ‘The Cities’.

          It’s also in the wrong place, so housing, infrastructure and supply routes are an expensive problem.

      • RegisteredHere

        Many of the people who work in London could just as easily work from an office in Oldham or Glasgow because all they need is a computer and an internet connection, both of which are pretty ubiquitous.

        London is looking increasingly like a financial bubble, with more and more people justifying more and more infrastructure spend, and higher and higher house prices.

      • MonkeyBot5000

        “900,000 will be built in the South East or London, because that is where demand is. Which will not go down well at all in Labour’s northern heartlands.”

        It won’t go down well, because there is a demand for housing there that is being ignored. By “demand”, I mean need, not “ability to get a mortgage”.

        • MikeHomfray

          There is plenty of decent housing in Liverpool. There aren’t enough jobs for people, though

      • Alexwilliamz

        Was banging on about this to our MP. When I asked whether regional MPs had begin to coordinate (possibly cross party) to try and form a bloc to influence policy, she looked at me strangely and said different MPs had different agendas, and regional economic policy wasn’t seen as important by some, as they were interested in other issues. Does beg the question of a) who do they think they are there to represent b) what a shame MPs are unable to cope with more than one issue to support, bless them.
        I think we need to develop counterweight cities, conglomerate conurbations to rebalance the economy. Not just good for regions, but the country and London itself.

    • RegisteredHere

      There’s no point in a minimum wage unless it’s pegged to a market price (bread, beer, petrol, housing) or configured as a percentage of a maximum wage. A minimum wage on its own just dominoes up the chain until everyone ends up back where they started.

      • MonkeyBot5000

        The fact that no politician seems to understand this is the reason we should probably shut down all Oxbridge colleges that teach PPE until they can manage to teach GCSE maths.

      • Dave Postles

        The Low Pay Commission is supposed to relate the minimum wage to inflation, but only in an advisory capacity and in respect of CPI. Politicians in Westminster will never implement a multiple of incomes, despite august people recommending it.

        • RegisteredHere

          Perhaps it’s time for politicians in Westminster to become delegates rather than representatives?

          We don’t live in the C13 anymore, and it’s worrying that anyone might have a greater call on an MP’s vote in the lobbies than his constituents.

    • Dave Postles

      Borrowing for capital investment is fine. It has never been cheaper for the UK government to borrow even with the AA+ rating (which is far superior to any private corporation). The revenue implications of borrowing for capital investment can be managed.

      • Steve Stubbs

        It doesn’t matter what reason you borrow for, it still has to be paid back at term, and the interest on it has to be paid in the interim. We already spend a huge proportion of government income (i.e. tax taken from you and me) servicing the current debt. To increase debt even further is lunacy, To repay the current debt we need to generate surplus income. To hope that it will i the long term be cured by inflation looses the points that in the medium term we will be firstly hamstrung in increasing social spending by the interest burden around our necks, and secondly an increasing amount of borrowing is now inflation indexed, specifically by the providers to avoid the inflation devaluation of their debt.

        Jim Callaghan had it right, you cannot borrow your way out of a debt crisis.

        • Dave Postles

          Oops, there goes infrastructural investment then. The revenue costs of borrowing for capital investment can be maintained – full stop – without depending on erosion by inflation. The cost of outsourcing to the private sector for investment will be massive – simply because the private sector cannot borrow at the low rates at which government can. Your prescription is for decline.

          • Steve Stubbs

            You can, of course, point me to where I suggested outsourcing it to the private sector? My prescription is not to spend money we do not have. We can generate the cash needed for investment by taking an axe to the still huge amounts of pointless government spending that takes place, not matter how nice it is, stick to what is essential.

          • Dave Postles

            Point me to where I mentioned erosion by inflation. In contrast, I refer to the private sector because that is what successive governments have done. No, you don’t have to redeem the debt at term – it is usually rolled over and the term for UK borrowing is currently 14 years. There is no way that you can reduce revenue expenditure to fulfill capital investment – that’s why we have separate revenue accounts and capital accounts.

        • PoundInYourPocket

          Nonesense – of course you can.
          Government borrowing is cheaper than perhaps ever before. Providing your return on the investment covers the very low cost of borrowing , what’s the problem ? We only entered a recession after Osbourne cut public investment. Start borrowing big time and get spending on large projects that have a long term return. Perhaps Callaghan had a point when interest rates were 15% and there was industrial turmoil, but not now. Even then, Callaghans words were really those of his son in law the Tory Times economics editor (Peter Jay?)

          • Steve Stubbs

            See my reply to PeterBernard above. If it actually went on long term investment, I wouldn’t worry so much. But it didn’t, last time it went into generating housing bubbles, totally unnecessary social engineering, and other grandiose pork-barrel but otherwise pointless political projects.

            And you still have to finance the interest on the loans before the big infrastructure projects start to pay off (long term, if ever).

        • PeterBarnard

          ” …. it still has to be paid back at term …”

          Nonsense. Government has adopted a perpetual debt policy since it first took on the responsibility of public borrowing, following the “Glorious Revolution” in 1688.

          In 1691, public debt was £3 million ; a hundred years later, it was £240 million, and a hundred years after that, it was £616 million.
          By 1991, it was (gross) £200,000 million.

          I submit that there wasn’t a great deal of “repayment at term” going on over the three hundred years 1691-1991.

          And, I believe that Mr Callaghan said that “you can’t borrow your way out of recession.”

          Ironic, because that’s exactly what the Conservatives did between 1992 and 1997 – they (i) just about doubled the public sector net debt, from (from memory) £200 billion, to £400 billion, and (ii) as a proportion of GDP, borrowed more than Labour did during the Healey years 1974-79.

          • Steve Stubbs

            Wonderful theory, I hope I am not about when the bubble bursts. You can only inflate a balloon so far before something gives. For years this has been held in check by almost continuous reduction of the value of Sterling, but what will bring it down is loss of confidence by the lenders. Since the loss of the gold standard, as mentioned on here many times, money does not in fact exist, it is only paper promises. Once Sterling looses confidence, there is nothing left to prop it up.

            During most of the period you reference, we earned our keep. Now with the global economy and cheap production in Asia, most of the manufacturing that can has got up and left, and this party seems intent of driving out the financial services industry through its policy of envy. Once they have gone God help us. To share wealth, someone has to create it in the first place.

            And as far as Conservative borrowing during the nineties, that is precisely why Brown and Balls should have reigned back spending from 2002 to the crash, rather than running an ever increasing deficit. Just because tories were reckless, there was no need for labour to spend like drunken sailors, pretending that they were investing when in fact most of the extra borrowing disappeared into the current account spending. Investing in people they called it. Lying to the public is what I called it.

          • PeterBarnard

            Mr Stubbs, your “facts” are submerged into an ocean of rhetoric.

            I’ll take your last assertion as an example ” … most of the extra borrowing disappeared into current account spending …”

            Between 1996-97 and 2007-08, inclusive, government receipts exceeded current expenditures by a cumulative £154 bn. In other words, not one penny was borrowed in those years to finance current public expenditure.

            As for “wonderful theory,” it’s not a theory ; it is what has actually happened over the last 300+ years.

        • Governments can’t borrow their own IOUs – which is all the £ is. Can you borrow back your own IOUs? Think about it.

          They can only swap one kind of IOU for another. Usually they swap gilts for cash to enable the holders to receive an interest payment.

          The Government is an issuer of currency and as an issuer has to be in debt. If it isn’t in debt then that means it hasn’t issued any currency. 🙂

          It never has to be repaid. It can’t be repaid. All Governments can do is confiscate issued IOUs via the tax system. That’s not repayment as most people understand the term. Fortunately it hardly ever happens.

  • nana

    on the 1% debate.i heard twice ‘regional benefits’.well according to thhe red button on bbc news channel it quotes miliband saying’ no return to the tax and spend policies of the past Labour governments’.’higher spending would not solve the UK’s economic problems’.’Labour would be more radical than in the past’.so what does that mean? so follow the coalition government spending cuts then? how do you think the northern heartlands will take this when again building houses in london,and the south east is lab our’s priority.great way to win back labour supporters who have voted labour for decades.not

    • treborc1

      Possibly he is talking about coalition with the Tories if they need it to try and keep him in the job.

      • gunnerbear

        And Red and Blue Mobs would be more than happy to work with each other.

  • Mike B

    @Dan The country has an endemic housing shortage. A priority for any decent government should be to tackle this. Building homes also has multiplayer effect on jobs, training and investment. This would be money well spent and the economic and social benefits would ultimately be huge. The Tories (blue or orange) have no long term interest in removing the house price inflation. We do. Apart from that I agree with your comments on the ‘encourage’ word for higher wages. A certain level of compulsion is needed (wages councils perhaps).

    • gunnerbear

      “The Tories (blue or orange) have no long term interest in removing the house price inflation. We do.”
      Why hasn’t Labour? Lots of Labour voters own their own homes…they’re not going to be pleased to hear the Labour Party talk airily of reducing house prices.

      • Mike B

        Owning a house to live in does not automatically provide anyone with benefit when price rises go mad (as now). If a person moves to an area with lower prices then there would be gain or if someone owns more than one property again then money will be made but most of us live in just one home. Most have (or have paid off) a mortgage or rent. If you own a home and choose to move to a similarly priced area you will have to pay increased prices and deal with estate agent and legal fees. Downsizing is a tactic but cannot be done often. So except for those with ‘property portfolios’ most of us do not gain The housing shortage remains and property inflation is a function of demand outstripping supply. Homelessness is a result of our unbalanced disfunctional market. It can only be solved by building.

        As for tackling low wages well that is a whole other debate.

        • gunnerbear

          There are currently (on HMGs on figures) hundreds of thousands of empty houses in the UK (a figure supported by housing charities). Recently, Liverpool Council were selling off homes for a pound.

          It isn’t a shortage of home we’ve got.

          • Mike B

            A surplus of homes in say Liverpool will do little to help someone who’s work, family and social history might be in the South East or the East Midlands. To simply equate X empty properties with X people looking for homes takes no account of personal circumstances. Yes some can up sticks and move to another part of the country. Others cannot. There has been some reports of London councils offering homes to those on their housing lists hundreds of miles away. This can, for many, be an inhuman offer. In almost every way a healthy housing policy will allow people reasonable choices. Real life is not equivalent to moving people around like chess pieces. Again we cannot avoid the conclusion that the base of this is a homes shortage in those parts of the country where people need them. Home building should be a major priority for government as is was in the decades after World War 2. That priority ended with Thatcherism and we suffer the consequences.

          • gunnerbear

            ” There has been some reports of London councils offering homes to those on their housing lists hundreds of miles away”

            If someone can’t get a job in the booming South East, would it really make that much difference if they moved to Liverpool (and the HB bill would be lower too)?

            So you want to spend billions of pounds on public housing whilst other public housing in less popular areas stands empty? Not sure if that will go down well on the doorstep.

          • Steve Stubbs

            And are you proposing therefore that people should be directed to move to where accommodation, but no jobs, exist?

          • gunnerbear

            No, I’m not but the logic is inescapable isn’t it….if a person has been long term unemployed in a booming zone like the South East and the taxpayer is footing the bill for their benefits (up to £26K) why wouldn’t HMG (of any colour) not consider moving them to somewhere cheaper?

            I also think that we’ll soon see the regionalisation of benefits, no matter which party is In power.

            You’ll note I’m not making it a party political issue – more a case of what HMGs think they could get away with.

          • Mike B

            Even for those with a job in the South East getting a reasonable home may not be an option. Rents are very high and house prices are often out of reach. In the mean time even in the South East income levels for many don’t match living needs. It is just not possible for many to find proper accommodation with an average income. I have lived in my present home for 22 years but I could not afford it at today’s prices.

          • gunnerbear

            “It is just not possible for many to find proper accommodation with an average income.”

            Totally agree and I don’t thinkbuilding ever more houses in the SE will solve the problem unless you forbid RTB sales and ban people buying the new house if they or anyone in their family already owns a house…..

            ….can you imagine the uproar if that was brought in. Those are the sort of Draconian measures HMG must consider unless it wants to make credit much, much, much harder to obtain…which also acts to drop house prices.

            Again, that sort of move would not be popular either!

    • david hunter

      This may come as a bit of a shock to a lot of people, but we do not have to build any new houses, or certainly not anything like the number the politicians like to bandy about. Why not? Because there are, apparently, a million or so people looking to be housed. Well, guess what? There are also a million or so empty properties. Do you see what I am getting at yet? For a generation politicians have told us we must build more houses – but, because they are all incompetent bastards who have to be told to undo their fly before they have a piss – it hasn’t happened. And it won’t happen. And it shouldn’t happen! All the empty properties at present uglyfying (is this a word?) the country ought to be renovated and occupied. Can anyone give me a plausible reason why this should not happen.

      • MikeHomfray

        That would mean the private sector actually consenting to base themselves nowhere near London.
        The houses aren’t where the greatest demand is.
        But I agree about bringing empty properties back into use

        • david hunter

          You can’t have everything – not everyone can live exactly where they want to. ‘New’ Labour’s answer to the housing problem was – thanks to the idiot vandal John Prescott – to demolish thousands of perfectly good (indeed beautiful) Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian houses in order to construct more of Pete Seeger’s ‘Little boxes’. These were the selfsame old houses, now renovated, that are going for well over a million quid a pop in places like Balham and Peckham.
          Surely the prevailing wisdom is that people should live in parts of the country other than the already grossly overcrowded south-eastern corner. And in answer to Steve Stubbs’ point about employment, jobs must be created where they are needed. That’s what responsible government is about. we cannot simply go on building around London forever.

          • Steve Stubbs

            “And in answer to Steve Stubbs’ point about employment, jobs must be created where they are needed”

            Indeed we need to reduce the pull into the South East. What the government can do, and quickly, is move the various government departments out of the south east, and spread them about the country.

      • Mike B

        Sorry but the swearing precludes a reply.

        • david hunter

          ‘Bastards’ and ‘piss’ are perfectly good anglo-saxon words, you will find them in some great literature. We will get nowhere while prudish schoolmarms like yourself try to lead the argument. What ‘precludes a reply’ (you even write like a schoolmarm) is your inability to think of an answer.

      • Steve Stubbs

        Because people don’t want to live where the vacant properties are, for a number of reasons, the main being there are no jobs there.

  • Hamish Dewar

    There are multiple inconsistencies in this statement in your otherwise admirable article, Mark:
    “broadly uniting around prevention, devolution of power, and the idea that the state can still be interventionist …”.
    I suspect you meant to put “crime” in front of “prevention”, but you can’t genuinely devolve power and still retain it for the state.

  • Saddo

    Lets look at these “pledges” shall we

    A million homes – How, where, who pays? Magic money tree time again? You didn’t do it 97-10 so why should anyone believe you now?

    A new deal on rail ownership – Where’s the money come from to pay for all this? Where’s the evidence East Coast is better than other rail co’s? Union resistance to sensible change main industry issue anyway, so how does a cosy up deal like this improve anything?

    A higher (living?) minimum wage – We all know how this one get’s paid for – less jobs, more unemployment. smart move Labour

    Devolution to towns and cities – Are you serious? How’s that going to stop the UK spending too much?

    Tackling energy prices – A joke. Its a world market. Do you seriously believe little Ed can change the energy prices if for example Russia pulls European gas supplies.

    Go with it if you want. It won’t win.

  • treborc1

    The choice is one of Tories who are doing it already, or labour who will do it the same if they get in.

    Labour are offering some sweeteners like devolution to the councils in England, a few pennies to the min wage but benefits and wages in the public sector will not rise.

    The simple question is this and it has always been, why bother with the copy when the real thing is in power .

    Miliband is wrong when he says old labour is dead as is New labour, what has died is the heart and soul of the labour party it’s labour that has died for a copy of some piss poor second rate Tory Lite party.

    I’ll not vote for the three comedians that are running it now Miliband Balls and Progress ..

  • RegisteredHere

    It might be nice if Labour focused on some of the real issues rather than slightly different flavours of the issues chosen by the Tories and Mosaic.

    How about internet rights post-DRIP (the Pirates would be happy to assist on the technicalities I’m sure), investigations into Parliamentary indiscretions (sorry “historical” Parliamentary indiscretions /s), or electoral and constitutional reform (it’s 2014 ffs and we still vote with pencil and paper!).

    You could even go the whole hog and start talking about monetary systems, bitcoin, tax havens, cannabis, and the dissolution of the City of London (especially if it transpires that there’s an alternative to the World Bank). I don’t even care if you campaign on bananas and Rubiks cubes, but be a bloody opposition rather than just a different perspective on the status quo.

    • david hunter

      So we bloody well should vote with pencil and paper! We have seen what George W. Bush and his minions can do with an electronic system.

      • RegisteredHere

        I agree with you about politicians, British flavours included, but you should see what we can do with a blockchain these days.

        (Apologies – I can’t post links on LL (why?), but search for ‘blockchain voting’ or ‘blockchain denmark’ if you’re interested in learning more)

      • Steve Stubbs

        And in person. The aubse of the postal ballot is reducing our voting system to third world levels. If that continues, expect the removal of the postal ballot altogether or with the requirement for a doctors certificate needed to qualify.

  • Beouf

    Who cares. We’re going to lose because we have a poor leader. It’s down down down in the polls from here on in. Fasten your seat belts, folks.

    • PoundInYourPocket

      7 points ahead in the polls.

      • David Lewis

        Nope – in one poll which is an aberration. Another today polled equal.

        Labour now cannot win.

        • MikeHomfray

          Think you need to get out a bit more. The Tory strength is largely in the areas where they already hold all the seats they are likely to. They need to be well ahead in the polls before they can win as many seats because too many of their voters live in the affluent south-east, The rest of the country isn’t all like Oxfordshire!

        • Theoderic Braun

          Well, the last time I looked Labour were 5 points ahead. The Tories need to be more than 6 points ahead of Labour to win a majority and so only need to pile on another 11 points or so in the polls to win the next General Election. I’m not absolutely sure which party will end up with the most MPs next year post-election (hopefully Labour will manage to get over the hurdle and end the careers of rotters like David Cameron and Iain Duncan Smith et al) but one thing I am absolutely sure of is that, paraphrasing your own words:

          The Conservatives cannot win a majority.

          • Steve Stubbs

            “The Tories need to be more than 6 points ahead of Labour to win a majority ………..”

            Exactly what is wrong with the FPTP voting system we have. My money is still on Labour getting more seats (but not an overall majority) but with a smaller share of the popular vote than the Tories. This will cause a bit of a constitutional crisis.

            And in this the tories only have themselves to blame. Instead of the single question on AV in the referendum, there should have been at last another offering a fully proportional system of voting as an alternative to FPTP. What we got (and rightly rejected) was Cleggs attempt to make the Libdems perpetual kingmakers.

  • radb

    How about two equally balanced pledge cards. One for spending on services. And one for investment and wealth creation.

    Labour has to bring to the notice of supporters that this country is failing horribly at creating wealth. We need to assign a significant sum to investment in new production with a variety of partners, say £5 billion per year and then devise the spending budget.

    The FIRST allocation of funds from government resources should be to investment with private sector partners in new industry.

  • DoctorZoidburg

    Labour’s big weekend – and re-orientation of what it means to be Labour
    With 1 or 2 exceptions the rest have absolutely no idea of what it means to Labour. Professional parasites, the same losers seem to be their forever ,cast iron pensions and Millionaires The only thing they know about joblessness, serious health problems ,crime and policing, is what they read in the news. Some of these imposters should be behind bars for war crimes, destroying the Labour party and it’s reputation forever. Milliband another in a long line of politicos who have never had a proper job, and a lifetime of grooming for entry into politics

    Hopefully Scotland will say yes Get out of the Union ,you deserve better than the Westminster rabble. Labour has done nothing for you except steal your votes, it’s your time ,i wish you well ,in doing so you will make the Labour party a thing of the past, we will then get a lifetime of what we deserve ,.another bunch of professional parasites, only in blue if you want your vote to count spoil your paper it’s the only sensible option

  • david hunter

    Is this a Joke? I thought satire was dead but the only way this piece can be sensibly read is as a satirical tract.
    United? Hardly a week seems to go by but some senior Labour party figure declares Ed Miliband to be unfit to be Prime Minister.
    Policies? A ragbag of inchoate minor strategems without a vote winning BIG IDEA in sight. (And the greatest national scandal of our age, the £30 billion per annum tax evasion scam, not even rating a mention.)
    And, funniest of them all, Tony Blair, accessory to the murder of tens of thousands of Iraqi children, welcomed back like the prodigal son.

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