Labour MP and former Europe minister Dennis MacShane has called for tax and spending cuts in order to benefit the lowest paid in society. He has also set out a compelling vision for why this should be so:
“Any prime minister in office today would feel the voters’ anger as they see their cherished plans to spend their own money as they see fit destroyed by rising prices combined with the insatiable greed of the state in all its manifestations to take the people’s money for its own, often incompetent and counter-productive ends…
When trade unions and the Fabians invented what became the 20th-century Labour Party, no working man or woman paid any tax. It was easy to call for higher taxes because only the Tory-voting bourgeoisie paid them. Now working people are faced with massive deductions from their pay. There is some compensation for those on low incomes with young children, but a third of the voters in the London mayoral elections were single or childless people. The tired references to “hard-working families” upset all the voters who live by themselves, do not have children at home and are denied tax credits.
Can the Left be tax-cutters? Why not? The Attlee government cut income tax levels by 20 per cent (admittedly from high wartime levels). In 1960 a worker on average unskilled manual earnings paid only eight per cent of his income in tax. By 1970 that had risen to 20 per cent, and it has stayed high ever since. Labour should seek to help its own natural constituency by allowing more money to stay in people’s pockets. Modern socialists should worship neither the state nor the market – the individual human being should be at the centre of our concerns. Granting more autonomy and control over individual lives is best done by providing the material means to achieve this emancipation.”
This is likely to cause the Conservatives some discomfort, as they risk being left as the party of big and expensive government if the Labour party follows Dennis MacShane’s advice and re-positions itself as the party of the working class (i.e. those that work). This could prove David Cameron’s toughest challenge yet.
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Filed in: Current affairs,Party politics