The Labour Party cannot just rely upon the growing unpopularity of the Coalition to get back into office. If that is our only strategy then we risk the natural ruthlessness of the Tories prevailing and Cameron being replaced by resurgent populist Boris Johnson.
We have to give people a reason for positively voting for us and demonstrate that in government we can deal with the real concerns they have.
The recession has created a sense of insecurity and lack of hope in the future but increasingly people are beginning to challenge the old orthodoxies and the old order. Now is the time to demonstrate practically what a Labour Government could do in office.
This is just a taste of what the first 100 days could look like.
Seizing control of our economic future
The financial system has failed us, so why leave it in the hands of the people who not only created the economic crisis but are still continuing to profiteer from it? Although banks have been nationalised and taxpayer subsidised, they remain out of effective control, failing to lend and stimulate the economy. The Bank of England’s supposed independence simply meant democratic government decisions being replaced by the influence of shortsighted bankers.
In the first week of a Labour Government democratic control of the major economic decisions would be restored by ending the Bank of England’s control over interest rates and bringing the nationalised and subsidised banks under direct control to force them to lend and invest their resources to modernise our economy and put people back to work.
To bring a halt to the frenetic, madcap speculation in the City, the Government would introduce a financial transaction tax, raising funds to be ploughed into creating the infrastructure which a modern, sustainable economy requires. If the City resists then let’s make it clear that capital controls would follow.
To clear the decks of the old corruption we will abolish once and for all the last bastion of the undemocratic business vote by scrapping the City of London Corporation.
Freeing up the resources
There is no shortage of resources in our country to tackle the recession. The problem is that they are held in the hands of the few and are simply swelling assets of the wealthy rather than being used productively.
We will free up these resources with a new budget in the first month of a Labour Government that introduces a wealth tax on the richest 10%, a land value tax, and a restored system of progressive income tax with a 60% level on incomes above £100,000 and 70% on incomes above £1 million. And also we will clamp down hard on the tax evasion and avoidance that is costing us £95 billion a year.
Launching a social investment programme
We will put these resources to work to tackle the issues our people prioritise and stimulate economic growth.
Too many of our people do not have a decent home. Not enough homes are being built or renovated and too many homes are left empty. We will launch a mass council house building and renovation programme, giving councils the power to compulsory purchase properties unreasonably left empty for more than 6 months while ending the tax breaks for buy to let landlords.
Too many of our people do not have a decent job and yet there is vital work to be done to tackle climate change. We will commence immediately the investment in alternative energy, combined heat and power, insulation and sustainable transport to create one million climate change jobs. We will halt projects like Heathrow’s third runway that symbolises the threat to our environment.
Too many of our people live in, or on, the margins of poverty. We will introduce: a living wage and living welfare benefits, ending the attack on people with disabilities by scrapping the Atos tests and workfare; a cap on high wages of no more than 20 times the lowest paid in any company; legislation to tackle the gender gap, restore trade union rights, and health and safety regulations to protect people at work.
Too many of our young people are unemployed and deterred from staying on in higher education by debt. We will abolish tuition frees, take over the student loan debt, and guarantee every young person a job, apprenticeship, training or college place.
Too many of our elderly lack the care they need. We will introduce a National Care Service integrated into the NHS, free at the point of need and paid for through general taxation.
Ending the rip of culture
Privatisation of our natural resources and our public services has allowed big corporations to rip us all off with cuts in wages, working conditions and pensions for workers, and high prices for the consumers.
We will end all privatisation, including in the NHS, and start the process of bringing our public services back into public ownership by renationalising our railways, with immediate price controls over energy prices and rail and bus fares.
Just a start
People want to know what we can do to give them hope. This is just a start of what a radical Labour Government can offer them.