At a time when ‘Populist’ and progressive politics should have a real chance of succeeding, its ironic that a conservative shadow government led by David Cameron and George Osborne are the faces of change and seen as sticking up for the common man. One only has to look at the potentially huge gains the Democrats could make in November to see the scale of the opportunity.
Supposedly Gordon Brown was the one to make a clean break from New Labour and go back to traditional ‘Labour’ values. Unfortunately this was a lot of spin. The 10% tax fiasco is a perfect illustration of how the Prime Minister tried to further undermine the Labour base and woo middle England by reducing the middle rate from from 22% to 20%.
According to some rough calculations I did, the changes in the tax rates were going to benefit those who made at least Â£17,000. The fact that there has been such a negative reaction to this is an indication of a number of things.
1) The rise in commodity prices means that those even in the middle income range aren’t as well off as they otherwise would have been.
2) Supposed gains for the people at the bottom of the income scale have been overstated, and the tv show by Peter Snow and his son on the extent of income inequality in the UK are largely accurate.
3) The often derided ‘middle classes’ still have a sense of fairness and were also unhappy at the way in which the 10% tax changes affected those who were least well off in society.
I’m not sure what the solution for Labour is. Getting rid of Gordon Brown right now won’t have any long term benefits. Neither will trying to rush through reforms in health, education or crime as too much meddling has probably made increased investment less efficient (this is the opposite of the blair line that you couldn’t have investment without reform – its counter-intuitive but i think it holds up).
Ultimately, the only way forward is to try and make sure that the Conservative majority in the next parliament is as small as possible and to be thankful that Cameron beat out David Davis in the last leadership election.
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Filed in: Current affairs