As the election comes into sight, what should be the 10 pledges that Labour should make to maximize its vote for 7 May 2015? Here are some proposals which should certainly be included:
1 End austerity because the policy of endless spending cuts is clearly not working – deficit reduction (the ostensible purpose of the whole exercise) has ground to a halt and the deficit may even rise this year. Adopt the obvious alternative policy, which would cut the deficit far more quickly, by expanding the economy, creating hundreds of thousands of real jobs, raising household incomes, and using the higher tax take to pay down the deficit faster.
2 Make the revival of British manufacturing industry the key objective of domestic economic policy as the only way to pay our way in the world and reverse the disastrous slide to the biggest balance of payments deficits in British history.
3 Make full employment equally a central objective of economic policy when there are still today 2 million persons jobless and up to a further 5 million in short-term insecure jobs often dependent on zero hours contracts.
4 Make a Living Wage of £9.35 per hour in London and £7.85 in the rest of the country a mandatory requirement, to introduced within 6 months of coming into office.
5 End the scandal whereby there are now more working households in poverty (i.e. with incomes below 60% of the median wage) than workless households by restoring in-work benefits like tax credits and council tax allowances and abolishing unjust tax impositions like the bedroom tax.
6 Bring in an annual wealth tax, at progressive rates, on all individual asset ownership in excess of £10 millions, requiring all such persons to make an annual return with criminal penalties for inaccurate or false information. This should be supplemented by a mansion tax on big houses mainly in central London which are valued at more than £2 million, again at a progressive rate of tax, plus a Financial Transactions Tax aimed at discouraging short-termism in the City.
7 Repeal the whole of the Lansley 2012 Health and Social Care Act, and end and reverse privatisations and outsourcing within the NHS, if necessary seeking a public consultation as to whether the electorate wants a fully public service.
8 End the Govean fetish for so-called ‘free schools’ and return both them and all academies to the supervision of local education authorities, in order to protect the interests of poorer children and left-behind schools. Appoint a Commission to produce a plan for the full-scale integration within 10 years of the private schools within the national system , as is the case everywhere else in the world, and in order to end or significantly diminish the class-based nature of British society.
9 Require all tax havens to disclose the names of all British citizens holding accounts and the size of their accounts in those havens and then immediately levy the tax due, with the stipulation that failure to comply will lead to a penalty of double the original tax due. Require all multi-national companies to provide full details of their trading activities country-by-country to end the scandal of ‘Luxemburg’ false accounting in order to pay little or no tax.
10 Build at least 250,000 affordable social housing units per year to reduce Council waiting lists of 1.8 million as quickly as possible as well as to deliver a huge increase in jobs. Impose rent controls on privately rented properties where rents are in excess of 60% of the local average, and lay down decent minimum standards of accommodation and facilities which all private landlords must adhere to, with deterrent penalties for those who fail to do so.