04 January 2011

A quick 11-point plan for Ed Miliband in 2011

In keeping with my New Year desire for keeping thing sharp and focused, here's 11 things that Ed Miliband should do in 2011 (in no particular order):

  1. Move Alan Johnson (I'd recommend replacing him with Andy Burnham, if Ed Balls is judged too much of a threat).
  2. Cultivate much closer links with anti-cuts groups such as UK Uncut and False Economy. And start going on some demonstrations while you're at it.
  3. Bang on hard and repeatedly about the failure of Osborne's 'Plan A' for fiscal consolidation when his forecasts for the path of the deficit turn out to be way too optimistic (as they will be).
  4. Get Labour talking about multinational corporate power as the main threat to democracy and economic stability - including finance capital for sure, but broadening out the critique.
  5. Read what Duncan Weldon is saying about an alternative economic strategy (sorry Duncan, but I've always liked that phrase so it's time to rehabilitate it) and take it on board in the policy review.
  6. Draw attention to the ConDems' plan to dismember the BBC and hand Rupert Murdoch more or less complete control of television.
  7. Try to change the Labour Party's constitution to get rid of Shadow Cabinet elections - always a stupid idea, now a potential disaster zone.
  8. Cultivate much closer links with the Greens - in a close election, a pre-election pact in key constituencies could pay off (we could easily end up with Red/Green vs Blue/Yellow in 2015).
  9. Continue to rebuild Labour as a mass movement after the great hollowing-out of the New Labour years - the organisational skills of Neal Lawson (currently of Compass) would be a huge help here.
  10. Stick up a lot harder for working age benefit claimants - long-term unemployed and disabled people in particular - who are effectively being treated as subhuman by this government. Yes, that means going on demonstrations etc! Don't be afraid.
  11. Commit Labour to a wide range of (re-) nationalisations of assets which have been stripped by the ConDems or their Tory predecessors: forests, public transport, utilities. Call it "retaking the family silver".
Obviously loads more to say about all of those but those are my recommendations to Ed and his team. They'll still be way out in front in the polls even if they follow none of them; but they won't have a coherent progressive platform for government unless they embrace at least most of them.

Don't let us down, Ed.


Van Patten said...

I can only guess what you've been up to over the festive period, but would warn the coalition is likely to clamp down on the use of soft drugs and introduce stiffer penalties, judging by Page 8 of 'the £100 billion gamble' seen on the well-named but seemingly tragically misguided 'False economy' blog, you've possibly been over-indulging and may well fall foul of such an approach.

A more detailed analysis of why the prescription is wrong to follow, but the notion that the previous government (except the MOD and Armed forces, lined up for effective mothballing in what I have so far read of the conclusion) escape scot-free and that the current crisis is all the fault of the private sector banks is comical. A more profound misdiagnosis of the problem is hard to imagine. Let's hope Miliband takes this up. If he does, it could see the end of Labour as an effective political force. Looking like a rerun of the 1983 election. The only worry is whether the coalition's relative wooliness will overcome a democratic Argentine invasion this time round.

Van Patten said...

I retract it - I'm guessing the authors of 'a Green New Deal'(also accessible through the 'False economy' page) have stolen your supply? On seconsd thoughts, their level of delusion would require something significantly stronger. Surreally reading through the 'finance renewal' section of the PDF, I was listening to the ELO song'Mr.Blue Sky' on another tab. It also prompted me to revisit a late 1980's classic - Go West's 'The king of wishful thinking'!

giroscoper said...

VP - as one of our friends once said, "laughable as ever."

The financial crisis was undoubtedly the fault of the banks, in that I didn't see anyone else making ludicrous investments in the period 2002-06. Oh wait, I did - the shadow banking system. So it was the banks and the shadow banking system. Like I say, the debate needs to be broadened out beyond the banking system to multinational corporate power in general.

I've worked with some of the Green New Deal group - they're fine people.

Van Patten said...

Taken from the '£100 billion gamble'

'First, introduce a 50% Income Tax band for gross incomes above £100,000. This reform introduces
a new 50% band of Income Tax for taxable incomes above £94,000 per year (approximately
£100,000 a year gross income).This would raise £4.7 billion compared with the current (2009/10)
tax system, or an extra £2.3 billion compared with introducing this band at £150,000 as proposed by the previous chancellor'

Why stop there? Surely a 60 or 65, even an 83% rate, will mean that those 'most able' bear the brunt of funding the banks' as well as the state's recklessness? The implicit assumption that penal taxation rates are desirable, and that great wealth must somehow have derived from exploitation is one of the more distasteful aspects of the entire report.Tthe report makes the contrast in terms of the international environment with 1981 when comparing Osborne's budget with that of Howe, but ignores the fact that Labour mobility is far greater now than it was then. You can't tax people that are not resident in your jurisdiction, and the idea that people earning 100K are not just going to say 'screw you' and flee to a significantly higher number of countries now than in 1981 which have lower tax rates and a higher quality of life is really a gamble.

Van Patten said...

Taken, again, from the '£100 billion gamble'

'Fifth, increase the tax payable (higher multipliers)for houses in Council Tax bands E to H.This would raise a further £4.2 billion.'

Ok, so one of the most exhilirating, and from a left wing perspective probably outrageous pieces of blatant demagoguery was a two page spread in one issue of the Mail on Sunday. Back in 2003, a man named David Richards became the first 'Council tax martyr'. He refused to pay the super- inflationary rates of council tax rates that had been imposed by South Devon Council, arguing that his fixed income made such increases an impossible burden. He relented when threatened with imprisonment(I quote, 'I don't want to cost the taxpayer three square meals a day'), but the Mail on Sunday made much of his service in the Merchant marine during World War 2, and skilfully planted a story regarding the ongoing benefits paid to either Abu Qatada or Abu Hamza on the opposite page. Blatantly appealing to prejudice perhaps, but in a way undermining your case that the state bares none of the blame for the current crisis.

Many houses in Bands E to H are owned by people in such circumstances, so I question A:/ Whether your policy would yield the required gains you suggest or B/ It will merely lead groups like 'Is it fair' back into the spotlight once more. Many such people are probably old enough to recall the 1930's, and whilst no doubt their wwartime memories of solidarity and generally quiet demeanour might mean they accepted your rationale for the increases, you would almost certainly face the problem that the last government had, whereby the PR impact of pensioners being jailed for refusing unjust rises in Council tax, whilst people who had committed more than 200 genuine criminal offences went free for want of a jail space, was disastrous.

'Sixth, minimise personal and corporate tax avoidance by requiring tax havens to disclose
information fully and changing the definition of ‘tax residence’; these two reforms are estimated
minimally to yield £10 billion.'

Again a purely hypothetical figure, and what is the sanction you propose if these countires won't play ball? Are you going to advocate 'regime change' in Switzerland or Monaco?

Van Patten said...

Again, taken from the '£100 billion gamble'

'Seventh, introduce a financial transactions tax (FTT) at a rate of 0.1%, applicable to all sterling
transactions. Minimally, this would raise a further £4.2 billion – maximally, it would raise
£34 billion, or about 2.5% of UK GDP.70 In Table 1 we assume that such a tax would raise at least
£10 billion per annum. Most of the major EU countries are favourable to such a tax, and on 18
July 2010 the head of the IMF, Dominique Strauss Kahn, announced he would back it.'

Arguably the most ludicrous proposal of all. I don't think I've ever seen you use the IMF as a touchstone of whether an idea is desirable before, but I notice you were a 'co-author'. The so-called 'Tobin' or 'Robin Hood' levy is absolutely acceptable to most other EU countries, partly because they don't have economies so dependent on financial services as the UK, and lest we forget, the EU is a front for the Chinese, eager to get their hands on the City of London's wealth. Whilst I agree the intial yields would probably be of the order you posit, that would shrivel very quickly as firms relocated to Pudong, hong Kong, Geneva or New York which are unlikely to impose such a levy.

'Eighth, continue levying the Bankers’ Bonus Tax introduced by Alistair Darling in 2009, which
raised £2 billion.'

Here I actually agree, especially for those bankers whose firms were nationalised. most of them are likely to depart for Zug or other less penal jurisdictions , however, so again the impact in terms of revenue is likely to be progressively (no pun intended) reduce.

Van Patten said...

I am once again indebted to the '£100 billion gamble' (Again no pun intended)

'Cut Trident and other heavy military goods: two aircraft carriers to be delivered in 2018 at a current cost of £5 billion and the expensive new batch of
Typhoon Eurofighter aircraft last estimated to cost £20 billion in 2003. The cost over the next 30 years is put at £120 billion.72 The corresponding annualised
cost figure would be £4 billion.
The Mini-Titan prison programme should be scrapped. The capital and maintenance cost of
expanding prisons or building 1,500 ‘mini-Titans’ to accommodate an extra 100,000 prisoners will
be about £1.3 billion, so scrapping that project
would be a significant saving.73 Britain already has the highest per capita rate of incarceration in
Europe; to raise it further would be a clear failure of social and economic policy.'

It would seem that here, and in the conclusion, the 'genie is out of the bottle' so to speak, as to the true nature of the compass agenda. So the only two areas to bear any cuts from the 'Compass' agenda are defence and Prisons? I assume this section had to be added on as an addendum, or perhaps you adhere to the admirable philsophy in terms of commentary, if not ideological bent of the late Lord Bauer, who said that commentaries should not be rejected if they are 'not accompanied by solutions'.

Can I ask what your stance is on the issue of a Nuclear deterrent? If not Trident, then you face either placing it on land or scrapping it entirely, and effectively placing Britain under either American 'protection' or, given your ideological bent, more likely that of some Eastern nuclear powers? Reminiscent of Kinnock's 'guerilla warfare' gaffe in 1987 or the Saaatchi advert wherein their representation of Labour's defence policy in that election depicted a British soldier with his arms raised in surrender.

Furthermore, the armed forces are currently enaged in multiple theatres of war and are chronically under-resourced. I assume you propose effectively turning the Uk into somewhere like Costa Rica where the armed forces don't really exist? all the easier for your ideological master in Beijing, Shanghai and Pyongyang to install the kind of 'progressive' government you would like, no doubt?

On penal policy, the last assessment of the number of 'free' prison places I had from my contacts within the prison service (in my previous employ I had contacts with them as part of a rehabilitation programme DHL was involved in)was seven. Whilst I agree that both the Major and Blair/Brown administations made a ridiculously high number of arrestable offences ( I think more than 11,000 in 18 years), it seems odd that you recognise that the economic donwturn will have an economic impact, but minimise the social impact in terms of increased rates of crime. Sadly, the prison system is in need of major overhaul, and there have been no new prisons since the time of Major. The only alternative is to use the new EU states of Bulgaria and Rumania (both virtual police states in the 1970s and 1980s - possibly some of your supporters might have been receiving stipends from either Zhivkov or Ceaucescu?) and send our prisoners there.

Your failure to mention what the conservative press calls 'the Client state' reveals much about your true agenda. The 'NPPS' (non-productive public sector) is where Compass has many of its well-renumerated supporters, and despite your 'red herring' of a public sector worker (A nurse,teacher or cleaner - nice!) on £25K, you and I both know, it's the 'Global warming co-ordinator' on £80K and the Lesbian 'Outreach director' on £90K that's the true target of Osborne's cuts. that's why the agenda is the right one, and why the state must take its fair share of the blame for the current crisis.

Van Patten said...

In response to your comment that the 'Green New Deal' people are 'fine', I can presume you've read the report.I had to re-read it to be sure, but apparently, good old Cuba serves as the model for the UK in the 'Green new world'? What price a paean to North Korea in their next publication? I'm speechless that what must be veteran fellow travellers could be described in such terms. Treasonous and a base threat to Britain's freedom, Yes, Indee they are 'Fine people', in the tradition of Burgess, Philby, Maclean,Blunt and Cairncross!

giroscoper said...

Mate - unfortunately I simply don't have time to read through all this at the moment. I'm sure there's a lot of good content in what you're saying here but if you've got that much to say wouldn't you be best off starting your own blog?