Socialist Worker

Where is Labour in fight against cuts?

Issue No. 2228

Shadow home secretary Ed Balls was quick to denounce the student protests last week.

And the Labour Party leadership this week signalled a retreat from Ed Miliband’s pledge to make the 50 percent top rate of tax “permanent”.

Many trade unionists hoped Miliband would represent a real break from the era of New Labour’s love affair with the rich. It doesn’t look like that now.

Labour will say that this is clever politics that moves them towards the “centre ground” and the views of the majority.

But the 50 percent rate is only levied on those with an income above £150,000, just 1.3 percent of the population. That’s why it’s a popular measure.

Alan Johnson, Miliband’s appointment as shadow chancellor, says Labour must show it serious about cutting the deficit. How will lowering taxes on the rich help?

In truth we need a much deeper onslaught on the wealth of the rich than a modest 50 percent tax measure. But Miliband and Johnson reject even this.

And the tax retreat is not the only sign that Labour’s accepts much of the agenda of austerity and attacks the welfare state.

Labour’s Douglas Alexander welcomed Iain Duncan Smith’s new welfare reform bill last week—despite it being a brutal attack on the poorest in society.

And Labour councils across Britain are slashing services and tearing up workers’ pay and conditions that took years to win.

All of this makes it even clearer that we must reject the argument of many trade union leaders that the best way to resist the cuts is to wait four years for a Labour government to be elected.

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What We Think
Tue 16 Nov 2010, 18:08 GMT
Issue No. 2228
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