Friday, 24 July 2015

What is Labour for?

What is Labour for?  What are it's principles? What is it's long term mission?

I believe there are ten guiding principles. The principles are timeless but the policies will of course change. It italics, I've also put in some policy ideas for now.

1. Making Capitalism work for the people. Labour stand for a Social Democratic economy, with strong unions, effective regulations and strong democratic principles.  Labour will challenge, regulate and improve the workings of capitalism wherever there is injustice, exploitation or abuse of power. To be effective, this requires a strong state.  Massive issues such as jobs and homes cannot simply be left to "the market".

Labour could argue this : Capitalism in 2008 was saved in the UK by the decisive action of a heavily intervening Labour government.  Nationalism and small-state Conservatism both present strong but different threats to an effective UK state. The fierce global winds of capitalism require a strong UK economy that includes a solid public sector. For these reasons, Labour is opposed to the break up of the UK and rejects the small state ideology of modern Conservatives.

Policy ideas:

Sectoral collective bargaining with full employment rights from day one.   All non-permanent workers to be exempt from Trade Union industrial action legislation.  

Commitment to the rule of law, so that the UK actually fulfils it's international treaty obligations on Human and Labour Rights. 

Every worker put into a union , with workers remaining free to leave if they so wish . This would end the current nonsense that workers have to "opt in" to have this essential Human Right.  All other rights are automatic. TU membership should be no different. This, along with widespread collective bargaining, truly would be "the big society".

Rent controls

Regional Housing policy - if average house price is beyond a local worker on average wage, additional housing must be built until this is rectified.

Make it unlawful for banks or cash machines to charge people for withdrawing cash

2. Equality

Removal of class privilege to ensure genuine equality of opportunity. Work towards eradication of all types of discrimination. Aspiration towards more equal society.

Policy ideas: 

Kids in care homes to have state paid priority place at private boarding schools.

For social cohesion, CEO will earn no more than 6 times the average salary of workers in same company. 

Introduce concept of the maximum wage.

3. Personal Freedom.

Policy ideas: Commitment to a written Constitution - confirming best practice for democratic principles, human rights & civil liberties  (including labour rights).  This could only then be changed by the people, not by future Tory governments. 

In opposition, campaign against "snoopers charter" and the government spying of Human Rights organisations.  

Propose budget cuts at GCHQ.

4. No hunger, no homelessness.  

Policy idea: acceptance that welfare state became intrusive and over complex. Further work to look at citizens income to gradually replace the traditional welfare state.  Essential Labour builds support for welfare principle by drawing some basic lines in sand that cannot be crossed, eg no hunger, no homelessness.

5.  Free Education for all. Includes adult learning.  High skills a necessity for a high wage economy

6.  Free Health Care for all.

Aspiration to restore NHS to "envy of the world ".

7.  Quality public services.  

Policy idea:  Regional public ballots so that local people will decide how organisations that provide services are run and owned.

8.  Commitment to peace.

Policy ideas:   Close all UK embassies oversees. Stop all spying. No military action or cooperation with other states without parliamentary approval.

9. Decent Pensions. 

Policy idea: most workers under the age of 40 have woefully inadequate workplace pensions. It's a ticking time-bomb. New "DC" schemes have made planning for retirement impossible. This is unacceptable. In fact, we no longer have workplace pensions - we've replaced them with unpredictable long term savings plans.

Labour could legislate to underwrite minimum benefits for the new style schemes based not on stock market performance, but on the length of time workers have paid in.  Workers could then again plan for retirement. Opponents would say it is an uncosted proposal.  But the current pensions crises is similarly uncosted and is entirely down to the fortunes of the stock market.  Current "DC" schemes have completely removed the risk from employers and have transferred it all to taxpayers - this is not in the public interest and it needs to be addressed.

New Labour leader should organise a pensions conference, and invite the pensions industry, employers and worker reps so that a new approach can be thrashed out.

10.  Extend Democracy

Policy ideas:

Proportional Representation.
Abolish House Of Lords.
Democratic rules and elections for employer organisations such as CBI and Chambers of Commerce, and for lobbying groups such as the TPA.
New impeachment process so lying or dishonest elected politicians can be democratically removed.
Regular public ballots on issues eg legalise medical cannabis, ban fracking, euthanasia , elected head of state etc etc.

Taken together...these 10 principles are what we call Socialism. Others prefer "Social Democracy", "Democratic Socialism" or simply "the common good".

Conservative governments generally take each of these ten principles into a different direction....

Like these principles? Want to make Britain a great place to live and work? Join Labour!