A future fair for all?
Labour’s campaign slogan is ‘a future fair for all’ but how fair are its promises? Will Britain really be fairer under Labour than either the Conservatives or Liberal Democrats?
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Labour has during the financial crisis ensured that recession does not turn into a mass depression as occurred in the 1930s. This has had the result that our society remains fairer than it would otherwise. Labour promises to
[[A future fair for all, Labour Party Manifesto 2010, p.1:2, http://www2.labour.org.uk/uploads/TheLabourPartyManifesto-2010.pdf%5D%5D Labour is the party that is not only working for the rich but will work for everyone.
Of course labour is going to say it will get the economy back on track and this will be fair and benefit the less well off, the question should be whether it will be fair if things do not go entirely as planned. Labour’s manifesto does not say how they are going to make this recovery a fair recovery that will spread the benefits. So far Labours actions during the downturn have not been in support of fairness. Labour by the bail outs for the banks collectivised their losses of while letting them keep the profits, this is an unfair system which so far Labour has done nothing to improve.
The banks have given very little gratitude for being saved by the taxpayer even though the cost was billions. They have not lent to small businesses and individuals to help the economy instead they have concentrated on getting back to their high risk, high profit, high bonus culture.[[Sean O’Grady, The Money Man: Super economist Joseph Stiglitz on how to fix the recession, The Independent, 9/2/10, http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/analysis-and-features/the-money-man-supereconomist-joseph-stiglitz-on-how-to-fix-the-recession-1893271.html%5D%5D
To help ensure fairness Labour is promising parliamentary reform. Labour was quick to create the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority when the expenses scandal broke and will continue to ensure fairness and accountability in politics.
This transparency in lobbying ensures fairness by making sure that big business cannot have undue influence due to their financial clout. Labour’s manifesto expands democracy so making more people better represented which means fairer government.
and labour will consider expanding the franchise to 16-18 year olds. [[A future fair for all, Labour Party Manifesto 2010, p.9:2/3, http://www2.labour.org.uk/uploads/TheLabourPartyManifesto-2010.pdf%5D%5D
Labour however failed to see the scandal coming, it has had over a decade in which to make major reforms and to clean up politics but was reduced to reacting and is still reacting.
It is hard for Labour to completely reform the Lords and it will become another House of Commons - full of "career politicians". This will be seen as unfair by the Conservatives - most of the heridary peers were Conservative supporters. Since most of the removal of all but 92 heridary peers, Labour have bought in more Labour supporters. Members of the publi that have an expertise in a particular area of life, for example, Robert Winston. Stage two on the plan was to ensure that a tiny proportion of the house was to be elected by the public. No progress has been made on this. Previous manifestoes have hinted at reform of power rather than change in composition. (Moran et al, Politics UK). Labour says it wants to reform the Lords but it remains unclear whether they will do this in practice.
As for the House of Commons, a review of the voting system may make it more democratic. -Marie
Raising the Minimum Wage to the average earnings
A future fair for all could be no more apt for the policies that Labour are planning on introducing into our economy. Currently there is a wide disparity between those earning a lot of money and those not. Labour are planning on decreasing this disparity by raising the minimum wage in line with the current average earnings. This will improve the lives of so many. It will also get Britain away from the benefit culture as they will see that working earns a whole lo9t more than merely claiming benefits. This is a policy that makes the future fair for all by helping those in need and encouraging scroungers to get a job.
Fair stamp duty policy
The stamp duty is a hotly debated topic. A hold was placed on it during the recession in order to speed the housing market back to regular sales rates. However, it has now been reapplied. Labour are now proposing that for the next two years there will be no stamp duty for houses that are worth under £250,000. This raises the aspirations for first time buyers who thought they would never be able to afford their own home. By giving them hope, they also will increase productivity as they work harder to save for their property. To fund this project the stamp duty for homes worth over £1 million will be raised by 5%. This is simply a case of a take from the rich to share amongst the poor. This is truly fair.
Here the Labour message seems to be confused. Since when has Labour encouraged home ownership above renting? This is a Margaret Thatcher Conservative ideology. It is this ambition that people have to own a home beyond their means that lead to the recession. It is the same ideology that left Britain with a shortage of social accommodation to house those ho could not afford to buy or rent as more people were allowed to buy their own council house. It is worrying where Labour will take this ideology of owning property and how far they will take it if they are re-elected for 5 years.
Raising the standard of education
Rather than cutting spending drastically to reduce the current debt Labour are securing a positive future by investing in education. They recognise that education is key to aspiration levels and social mobility. It promises to provide more, free nursery places, more satisfactory schools with better quality teachers. It also promises to ensure that all achieve a basic level of numeracy and literacy and free catch up classes should pupils fall behind. This will eliminate the underclass in Britain who cannot find jobs due to their lacking in basic skills. Improving the whole education system in this such way will eliminate the blocks to social mobility and will indeed create a future fair for all.
They will continue to fight for Human Rights and the rule of law
At a time when terrorism is a real threat we need a party that will walk forward and fight for what we all believe in. We do not want a Government full of cowardice that walk away when gross injustices are incurred upon the innocent. Labour promise to strive for peaceful resolution of world conflict. They have already played a leading role in an international agreement as to the banning of cluster bombs and now seek to attain a global arms trade treaty in 2012. It is this sort of prevention that we need to look for in our next Government and this is what Labour has to offer.
What one would call prevention others would call cause. This Labour Government has brought terrorism home. We terrorised Iraq and then complained when they took action against us. Since when was it Britain’s responsibility to ensure that the Western values are respected and adhered to in Eastern parts of the world? Why could we not respect the differences of belief? Labour has in effect conquered another country into submission into democracy and Western values; they then expect praise for this? Labour want to be seen as martyrs against terrorism, but the reality is, they are acting in their own terrorist organisation with America. The two countries standing alone have more power than Iraq, let alone when the two decide to pair up in an act of joint terrorism. How is this fair to the people of Iraq?
To add; the anti-terrorism laws introduced under Labour leadership have inherently undermined our human rights through removing our civil liberties. This follows the hugely unpopular 2003 invasion of Iraq, what is now widely recognised today as an illegal invasion and not sanctioned by the UN Security Council.
High speed broadband for all
Not only do Labour recognise the future of the digital economy, but they also want to make sure that everyone is a part of it. Ensuring that everyone has access to broadband will amount in greater equality for a vast amount of the public.
Those who were born in an older generation would make more of an effort to be integrated into the digital future if they have the access available to them already. They will then begin to learn new skills and could work from home using these skills till an older age. (This has the additional benefit of saving on the pension reliance problem)
Children will have greater access to education; fair access. All children from all backgrounds would have the same internet connection in which to research, study and prepare for their educational future. This will greatly reduce the academic achievement gap between the middle and the working classes.
Unemployment would also be easier to solve if we all had equal access to the internet. Everyone would have the same opportunity to look online for a job. Everyone would have the same opportunity to sign up to online courses; to retrain and develop in a different career path.
The introduction of high speed broad band for all really is advancement for equality.
This is hardly equality. Let us listen o what we are being promised before we gallop ahead with fanciful dream of a meritocratic state.
Brown is not supplying this broadband for free out of the empty public purse. Neither is he gaining money from the richer segments of society. Nor is he calling upon internet service providers to stump up the cash. We will all have to pay a £6 a year tax for the landline. What about those who want to opt out of the internet and save that £6?
In addition, just because each home will have the ability to have broadband it does not mean it will have. The poorer classes in society will still not be able to afford the internet service providers bill, therefore they will pay a £6 a year tax for a service they cannot afford to use. In addition they would need to have the expendable cash to buy a computer to run the internet on. In the worst scenarios where families are cramped in their house, there may not even be the space for the computer.
I am afraid that this ideal of a fair future for all is nothing more than just that; an ideal.
They are working to prevent ill health amongst the less advantaged of us
Ill health is associated with the lower working classes. Their surroundings, their lifestyle, their diet and their habits tend to be unhealthier than that of the middle classes. The key thing that Labour has realised is that education is key here. It is for this reason that they have released the ‘change or life’ campaign which aims at teaching parents and children how to make costless changes to diet and lifestyle in order to improve health. If disadvantaged children are ill less, they will be in school more. The healthier they feel the harder they will work. This campaign gives children a fighting chance for success in later life. This is yet another example of Labour acting to decrease inequalities between the middle and the working class.
Socialism and the welfare state
Central to the beliefs of the Labour party is socialism. Socialism seeks to create a society that is fair for all, so you can hardly be surprised by the new slogan. But the question is: will it be a fair future?
Labour's biggest achievements have been to introduce the minimum wage and to create the NHS - both of which have been very successful. Before labour made these changes, people were earning less than a pound an hour and many could not afford adequate health protection. Labour has made healthcare available to all
and has helped poor people out of poverty. I have every expectation that a future under Labour will continue to get fairer, especially with the NCS.
Labour has promised not to raise income tax, the ‘fairest’ tax as it can be used to redistribute wealth while at the same time labour has not ruled out raising VAT which is one of the least fair taxes. Income tax is fair because it can be graded by income so taxing those who can afford to pay more this means that only those with the money to spare get taxed while the taxes do not hit the poor. Alistair Darling has however not ruled out an increase in VAT that would probably be up to the European average of 20% and bring in £13billion per year.[[Labour and Conservatives both ‘plan to raise VAT to 20%’, The Telegraph, 13/2/10, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/personalfinance/7226112/Labour-and-Conservatives-both-plan-to-raise-VAT-to-20-per-cent.html%5D%5D However VAT is a regressive tax, in other words it targets to poor more than the rich. No matter someone’s income they pay the same amount of tax.[[http://www.bized.co.uk/virtual/economy/policy/tools/vat/vatth2.htm]] This means it is a tax that targets those who spend more of their income on goods. Because they are able to save relatively less and have to spend more poorer people tend to spend more of their income on such goods so get taxed more. Although their being reduced rates on some products means that it is disputed how regressive the tax is it is certainly less fair than the other option; income tax.
Labour has in fact raised income tax - the government has created a new tax band such that everyone earning over £150 000 now pays 50%. Moreover, it has phased out the personal tax allowance for those earning over £100 000. These are progressive changes.
An indication of the increasing the University fees.
Our Universities are suffering. Our students are paying more. Our University funding has been cut. The logic in this alone is barely ascertainable. However, entangled with flouncy words and positive mental attitude, Labour have stated that they will not comment on the possible increase in University feeds for students until after the report is issued by Lord Browne[[http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/interactive/2010/apr/12/labour-manifesto-2010-policy-guide#responsibility-to-protect, pg29]]. Conveniently this report is not due for publication until after the election. This is an inconsistent attitude with wanting to get 75% of students into higher education! But perhaps it is, as the report is bound to show that the Government will not be able to afford the amount of student funds it currently gives to students. Therefore either funding coems down, along with student numbers or the prices go up.
As Labour have stated though, even if the fees do go up, they make sure that people only pay when they can and what they can. The money is deducted straight out of any wage above £15000 after tax. No money now has to be paid up front. Even if the fees do go up, people will not be adversely affected by it. Since 2004 entry into University from those from the most disadvantageous back grounds has increased year on year and there is no reason to believe that an increase in tuition fees will change this.
In addition, what makes Labour fair is that the little funding they do have they will spend on Foundation degree expansion and part time degree expansion. This is aimed once more at disadvantaged young adults being able to go to University. This is fair. This is meritocratic.
add more millionaires to the few and makes the poor more poorer
under labour the divide gets greater
Labour has instituted many good programs that help poor such as surestart and regional development programs. Programs that Tories will cut in the coming year.
too many scroungers under labour and far too many imagrants with no skills let in
far too many unskilled workers let into the country under labour time to say no as cheap labour is no good for all just makes rich richer
the majority of unskilled workers that have entered the country have done so from Eastern European countries that are part of the EU. Labour has instituted a point system for non EU countries resulting in a decrease in workers entering from outside the EU. One must bear in mind that these workers are doing work that ordinary English workers would not do such door man, chamber maid, fast food server, etc. It is not uncommon for immigrants with Medical and Engineering degrees to work as cab drivers and waitresses. There should be no reason why a person educated in England would need to look for work as an unskilled workers. Such a person has been offered numerous opportunities to become skilled in a trade or profession. This immigration should force students to take their education seriously so that don't have to compete with immigrants for unskilled work.
What do you think?