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Thursday, February 25, 2010

Labour have failed on fairness

Over at the Independent, Liberal Democrat Leader, Nick Clegg explains why Labour's new slogan, A future fair for all, is a massive fail:

The slogan itself is old, first used back in 2003. Then, like now, the poorest paid a higher proportion of their income in tax than the richest. But there is a difference: then, the gap was about two percentage points. Now, it is about four percentage points.

In other words, the gap between what the rich and poor pay in tax has doubled. This is a staggering change. If anyone deserved tax cuts in the last seven years, surely it was those who were finding it hardest to make ends meet, not those at the top?

When I asked Gordon Brown about this yesterday at Prime Minister's Questions, he avoided the question. He said I'd forgotten tax credits. But what he knows perfectly well is that those damning figures include the effect of tax credits, penny for penny, pound for pound.

Brown is hiding the truth that, even after every last tax credit has been handed out, the poorest are still the ones hit hardest. Just imagine how it feels to struggle so hard just to make ends meet knowing such a huge chunk of your meagre income goes straight back to Treasury coffers.

Labour has no basis on which to claim the ground of fairness any longer. Their record is one of rising inequality and unfairness. The roll-call of failures is long. Income and wealth inequality have not improved a jot in 13 years of Labour. A child born in a poor part of Sheffield will die 14 years before a child born just up the road. Even the brightest children from deprived backgrounds are likely to fall behind their more affluent classmates at school before their seventh birthday.

Thousands of children are in classes so big they're technically illegal. Carbon emissions are higher than when they came to power, a devastating example of inter-generational unfairness. Our political system can be bought and sold by big donors. Only in Gordon Brown's bunker can any of this be considered fair.

Based on what has happened since 2003, Labour's words are not a slogan at all. They are a warning. Even when all the sound and fury over the allegations of bullying in Downing Street which have dominated the headlines this week have died down, this legacy of unfairness will remain.

This is not a question of character, it is a question of values and priorities. Labour has failed on fairness. Only far-reaching change can make the future fair as it should be. All those millions of voters who flocked to Labour in 1997 with great hope for a fairer future must not despair, but look elsewhere for a political home.

This fine PB post reminds me of the very recent "scream" of outrage in Boris Johnson's nice blog . . . at «Mandy» (LORD M . .) lounging with his Labour Party champagne glass, in First Class, ON THE SAME AIRCRAFT, as the Mayor of London's conservative team, who we sensibly booked into eco' class (on the short hop to Brussels).
Sort of on theme, surely quote of the day from Peter Hain, who seems to be suggesting Lib_Lab co-operation to save the country from the Tories and then rather gives it all away: "Only if progressives come together to fight for their beliefs can Labour win the election and be at the centre of a wider movement of like-minded people," the secretary of state for Wales says.

Ummm - this progressive doesn't want to support Labour, nor for it to win the election.

Labour had its chance in 1997 and put narrow party advantage obtained via an unfit for purpose electoral system first.
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