Sunday, 30 April 2017

Labour Party: the one-message party.

Now we have an election looming, I see that the same old mantras are being pushed by them.

1. The NHS is doomed under the Tories. Vote Labour, get a better NHS.

Not that it ever was better under the previous Labour government, the government that saddled the NHS with expensive Private Partnership deals. Words are not the same as deeds.

2. Labour is the party of the people.

Well, not for a long time. You see in the Labour heartlands, seats are so safe that MPs stay in power for a long time and let's say, get used to the trappings of Parliamentary privilege. The long-term Labour MPs are no better than Tories. Dining at expensive restaurants, being taxied here and there, getting houses funded by the taxpayer... Nice when you can get it, especially when the wages of us poor saps out in the real world are tanking.

The same goes for the bosses at the top of the Unions: free penthouse apartments, funded by the Union members, the same posh restaurants as the Tory and Labour MPs. It makes you sick that they would abuse their privilege this way.

Don't forget that Labour, despite being "The Party of the People" has been in bed with big business for a long time. Just look at how under the previous Labour mob the supply of income for workers transferred from companies to the taxpayer. Yes, I'm talking about in-work benefits, especially tax credits.

It's a great idea when you put it as a way of topping up already poor wages. Not bad, people on low wages with kids get their wages topped up by the government. This would be fine, if corporation tax was raised to pay for it, so that the companies that pay sub-standard wages in effect get fined for doing it. Instead it's paid for by you and me, the ordinary taxpayer. In effect robbing Peter to pay Paul. Those that qualify for tax credits are better off, but the rest of the taxpaying community who don't qualify are effectively worse off because our taxes are higher to pay for it.

The same goes for zero hours contracts and the minimum wage. First off, I can't understand why people on the minimum/living wage should pay tax. And I especially can't understand why someone on the minimum wage should then have their wages topped back up by tax credits. In effect they pay tax, only to have the government give it back to them.

The downside is that the administration of that process needs paying for. So instead of taking them directly out of taxation, a system which is already administered, they pay tax, administered by one team and then apply for a rebate with another team of people and then given that money back. Crazy.

The other downside is the gap between benefits and wages is huge. Getting a tax-free salary equates more closely to benefits, reduces the gap and makes working a better option.

To me it smacks of a Tony Blair job creation scheme, paying people to shuffle paper around. Usually farmed out to somewhere like Wales or the North-East.

The inequality of zero hours contracts needs to be abolished as well. People should not be subject to informal hours arrangements. Again the government i.e. the taxpayer is paying to allow companies to get away with not having regular contracts. If companies want irregular employees on tap but exclusive to them and not able to work anywhere else, then they should pay a retainer to that employee when not employed, effectively paying the benefit the employee would get directly to them instead of the government.

So, what do I want Labour to start doing?

Well, stop banging on about the NHS. It's as boring as the "Safe, Stable Government" mantra chanted by the Tories.

Labour need to stop criticising and start inspiring.

Lift the poor (those on minimum wage) out of taxation, outlaw zero hours contracts, raise corporation tax on large businesses to pay for that and in-work benefits (and actually say that's what it's for, rather than just clobbering business), look to professionalise the social care sector, with a long-term plan to bring it into the NHS.

Legislation could be introduced to link the biggest rise in corporation tax to those companies that use zero hours contracts, or large numbers of minimum wage earners.

Legislation to curb the abuse of union funds needs to be introduced. Again, the marketing of the plan is key: It's helping the members to stop abuse, not bashing union bosses for the sake of it. Union bosses should pay for their accommodation out of their six-figure salaries, just like every other union member.  Highlighting the issue will put a spotlight on the abuse and should get the support of every union member.

Free local councils to start building houses. Forcing them to just build social housing will not generate new houses as it's just a cost to them. Allow them to build a small percentage for private sale so that they can make a profit, but with the caveat that any money raised has to be ringfenced and ploughed back into the housing fund.

Put a cap on public sector wages. Create legislation to cap the top wage to a certain number of times the lowest wage. It's obscene that the taxpayer should be paying large six-figure salaries to council members no matter how high up they are. Public service is a vocation. If you're so good at your job then go and find your way in the private sector. I find that many in the top jobs in public service are not of the standard to justify the huge salaries, they've just appointed themselves the salaries and justified it on the basis of that's what is needed to attract people from the private sector, when no-one from the private sector is actually employed.

I would apply the same cap on salaries for charities, especially those that receive government funding. There should be no members of charities earning over £200,000 salaries. Even £100,000 seems excessive when it can supply a very good standard of living. Charity donations should not be paying for a lavish upper-class lifestyle.

By these measures, Labour can say it is cleaning up the inequalities in employment and making the working environment more equitable for the lower paid. Lowering the wage gap for organisations that take from the public purse will give the feeling to the lower paid that they are not being exploited

Taking the lowest paid out of taxation will provide a boost in living standards and will equalise the gap between benefits and work.

Making companies pay for in-work benefits will shift payment for work away from the taxpayer and back onto business.

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