Tuesday, January 06, 2015
Here's how the Grauniad is reporting Ed Balls' refusal to commit to end the pay freeze or the spending cuts in local government.
Labour's pledge to match Tory spending plans in the first year of a Labour Government makes such a Government less, rather than more, likely.
The most important factor contributing to our defeat in 2010 was the continuation of a drift away from voting by Labour supporters which had been in evidence in previous elections.
Labour needs something to offer to voters upon whose support a party of the working class ought to be able to rely. A pay rise for low paid public servants and an end to the devastation of local services would be a start.
This would also make economic sense. The continuing decline in workers' living standards is the reason why the modest recovery in consumer demand is fuelled once more by growing debt.
Increased Government spending (whether on pay rises or reversing service cuts) would boost aggregate demand in the economy - and targeting the benefits of that increase on the low paid and the working class communities who have borne the brunt of austerity (who have a high "marginal propensity" to spend any increment of income in the local economy) would maximise the beneficial "multiplier effect" of such spending.
Unfortunately a generation of Thatcherism (and it's bastard offspring Blairism) has led to a "received wisdom" that we must eliminate the deficit (we don't need to) and pay down the national debt (we don't need to do that either). All major political parties (and both possible Governments) offer us economic policies based upon a consensus informed by that "wisdom".
How should trade unionists respond?
First, we must encourage our members and their families, friends, neighbours and communities to register to vote - and to vote. The victories of the Chartists and Suffragettes are without purpose if working class people don't use the franchise we won.
Secondly, we must warn our members off the right wing populism of UKIP, a dangerous reactionary formation of bigots.
Thirdly, we have to turn down exciting opportunities to support candidates who will lose their deposits on a socialist platform. In all but a handful of English constituencies there is no viable progressive option other than a Labour vote - and the choice of Government is Labour or Tory.
Finally - and most importantly - we must mobilise trade union members politically behind the policies of our trade unions and campaign effectively for those policies within and beyond the Labour Party, before and after this, or any, election.
Then we may have to put up with less Balls.
Sent from my BlackBerry 10 smartphone on the EE network.