Members Blog

This year the Womens Conference will be held the day before the Annual Conference in Liverpool

The Labour Party has made a decision to change the format of the Womens Conference in future.
It will be a standalone conference with its own powers to make change.
The first of these conferences will take place in 2019 in Telford on 22nd /24th February.

Details of this years Annual Conference are as follows:
Our delegates and visitors take part in debates to shape Labour’s vision for Britain and over 13,000 people attend Annual Conference for both the politics and the wider experiences available. With over 450 fringe events, a vibrant exhibition and great opportunities to network and share ideas, Annual Conference is an event not to be missed.

In 2018, we are delighted to be returning to Liverpool. Our Conference venue is the ACC Liverpool, and the Conference hotel will be the Pullman.

Annual Conference 2018 will take place from Sunday 23 September to Wednesday 26 September 2018.

National Women’s Conference will take place on Saturday 22 September before Annual Conference opens.

More details can be found at the Labour Party website at https://labour.org.uk/conference/visitors/

Labour Party National Women’s Conference

This year the Womens Conference will be held the day before the Annual Conference in Liverpool The Labour Party has made a decision to change the format of the Womens...

The latest Survation poll shows Labour now have a 7pp lead over the Conservatives. This is significant as Survation were the polling company who had the most accurate prediction at the 2017 General Election.

Their March poll shows Labour on 44% and the Tories on 37%

survation2018.jpg

Once the overall figure is broken down by age the lead is more impressive. Among 18-24 year olds Labour has a 40pp lead. Among the 25-54 year olds those who would vote Labour are over 50% at 50.2% while only 28% support the Tories.

Obviously one key issue we now face is turnout since the younger you are the less likely you are to vote. If we could increase the turnout among those aged 18-24 which in 2017 stood at just below 60% to the equal of the turnout for those aged 60-69 which in 2017 was 77%, we will have a Labour government led by Jeremy Corbyn seeking to implement the most radical manifesto since 1945.

That is something worth working hard for.

Support for Labour continues to rise

The latest Survation poll shows Labour now have a 7pp lead over the Conservatives. This is significant as Survation were the polling company who had the most accurate prediction at...

John McDonnell proposed a new ‘fiscal credibility rule’ in 2016. Basically he said that while labour would borrow to fund Investment, it would ensure that spending and tax revenue would balance over a 5-year period.

Surely however this still accepts the neo-liberal dogma that deficits are a bad idea. The reasons for this seem to lie in the advice provided by neo-Keynesian advisors such as Simon Wren-Lewis.

A critique of this position which argues that deficits are not a problem since governments will never run out of money arises from the post-Keynesian ideas contained in Modern Monetary Theory.

Clearly one benefit of this set of ideas is that it demonstrates that austerity was and is totally unnecessary. This view received endorsement from a strange quarter recently when Tory MP John Redwood declared:

“I have not been worried about the state deficit for sometime, ever since Mr Brown found out that the UK state can literally print money to pay its bills. Mr Osborne, originally a critic of this in opposition, then discovered its charms in office as well. It turned out to have no adverse consequences on shop price inflation, though of course it caused massive price inflation in government bonds, because it was accompanied by severe pressure against bank lending to the private sector to avoid an inflationary blow off. I always adjust the outstanding debt by the £435 bn the state has bought up, as this is in no sense a debt we owe. So our government borrowing level (excluding future state pensions which some here worry about and which have always been pay as you go out of taxation) is modest by world standards at around 65% of GDP, and at current interest rates is affordable.

Most of the state debt we owe to each other anyway. The government owes it to taxpayers who own the debt in their pension funds and insurance policies. The state can always raise enough money to pay the domestic bills backed by the huge powers to tax, and as we have just seen when credit expansion and inflation are low it can also use liquidity created by the monetary authorities.” http://johnredwoodsdiary.com/2018/03/05/the-twin-deficits/

Surely we should ask whether our local Tory MP, Philip Dunne, also now acknowledges that there is no need for all the austerity cuts?

Equally since now even Tory MPs are making it clear that state debt is not a problem, why should the Labour Party and John McDonnell tie themselves to so-called fiscal credibility rules that will restrict their ability to use radical monetary and fiscal measures to really radically transform our economy for the better, for the many.

Iron discipline or MMT: If austerity is not needed why worry about the deficit

John McDonnell proposed a new ‘fiscal credibility rule’ in 2016. Basically he said that while labour would borrow to fund Investment, it would ensure that spending and tax revenue would...

One of the ideas knocking around on the libertarian left is the promotion of Universal Basic Income. This suggests that we get rid of the existing tax and benefits system and instead replace this with a given amount of money given to all. The argument for this is that it is universal so everyone gets it and also that since it is not based on the need to work (as various forms of unemployment benefit are) it provides individuals with choices in their life.

This idea has been most notably promoted by the Green Party of late but also by left-liberal publications such as The Guardian:
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/feb/01/the-guardian-view-on-basic-income-a-worthwhile-debate-not-yet-a-policy

However as the Guardian pointed out the key problem with the idea is feasibility. Defenders of the idea (most notably the version supported by the Citizen’s Basic Income Trust (formerly CIT) are that:
(1) The cost is negligible
(2) The benefit will be significant

I think both of these claims are very hard to square with the details of any scheme that is currently presented. The Scheme adopted by The Green Party proposed a UBI of £72 per week which is less than the amount paid out to those over 25 on Job Seekers Allowance (JSA) of £73.10. It might be argued that those under 25 get less JSA, but then they also get less on the latest CIT schemes as well - so much for the Universal Basic Income.

When the Green Party rolled this proposal out it caused problems because it quickly became clear there were problems with their costing and also as The Guardian pointed out:
"35.15% of households would be losers, with many of the biggest losers among the poorest households. [...] The trust’s research shows that for the two lowest disposable income deciles, more than one-fifth would suffer income losses of more than 10%" (Guardian, 27.1.15)

So they have gone back to the drawing board and the CIT have now claimed to produce a revenue neutral scheme that avoids these problems. Here is Malcolm Torry:
"Income Tax Personal Tax Allowance in 2015/16 was £10,600. Removing the allowance would mean additional Income Tax of £10,600 x 0.2 = £2,120 being paid. The Primary Earnings

Threshold for National Insurance Contributions was £155 per week. Reducing the threshold to zero would mean additional National Insurance Contributions of 155 x 52 x 0.12 = £967.20. The total additional payment would be £2,120 + £967.20 = £3,087.20, which translates as £59.37 per week: so a Citizen’s Income of £60 per week would compensate for the loss of the Income Tax Personal Allowance and the reduction of the Primary Earnings Threshold to zero"

Clearly it is true that if the system changes and you lose £59.37 and gain £60 you do gain but it does not exactly seem like a revolutionary gain. Also notice that the UBI has now gone down from £72 to £60 (again only for those over 25) a cut of 16%. To achieve this all the thresholds for personal allowances for income tax and NI have been removed (explained above in the quote using 15/16 figures) and the overall gain from introducing this system is 63p per week.

So when you take into account the claims made I am not sure 63p per week counts as significant benefit.

Also bear in mind the key claims of advocates of this sort of thing is that it avoids means testing, is available to all and is unconditional.

However not strictly true since the details show: Child Benefit and State Pensions remains in place and these are not unconditional benefits. The amount paid to those between 16 and 24 is £40 per week which is less than the £60 per week so there is now age discrimination (does not sound as universal as some would claim) and also higher levels are paid for the first child so there is also discrimination based on order of birth.

It is possible to argue that these inequalities are defensible but this should be done honestly and without the claim that everyone will be paid the same - because that clearly is not true. The reason is the cost. So those who seek to present this as a jazzy new idea that is better than the clunky old Beveridge system should be honest.

It will still lead to poor people losing out:
Imagine if you earned £14000 in 15/16 (someone on minimum wage ). You would pay £680 Income Tax (20% above the £10600.00 threshold) and £712.80 NI (12% above the threshold of £8060). This gives a final income of £12607.20

Now imagine that they introduce their £60 per week UBI. To do this they will remove the Personal allowances on both Income Tax and NI. They would also increase the Income tax Basic rate to 23%.
You would then have £14000 plus your UBI of £3120 making a total of £17120 - assuming no behavioural change. However your tax would be £3937.60 and your NI would be £2054.40. Your final income would then be £11128.00.

Congratulations you have turned the welfare state upside down to ensure that there is a gain for some of 63p per week but for those on about half average earnings the loss would be about 12%.

The authors themselves admit that 16.9% of households would lose out and over 3% of those in the bottom 20% would lose more than 5% of their income.

Exactly how this counts as a great benefit to society is a bit of a mystery to me.

Is Universal Basic Income A Solution?

One of the ideas knocking around on the libertarian left is the promotion of Universal Basic Income. This suggests that we get rid of the existing tax and benefits system...

One of the myths of recent times is that social class is less significant. The original idea of embourgeoisement was rightly derided, the echoes of it appear in arguments about the way the Working-class are blamed for Brexit and portrayed as ignorant oafs flocking to Brexit.

In fact as the recent evidence shows the reason for working-class voters moving away from Labour is because Labour in the guise of both Kinnock and Blair moved away from them seeking ever more adaptations to the middle class to try to create a winning electoral alliance. A key effect of this in the 21st century was the decline of working-class support for Labour. Since 1997 the proportion of working-class people voting Labour has gone down from 64% to 32%. Why? Because Labour did not endorse or support working-class candidates anymore. This rather than the Blue Labour preoccupation with the reactionary working-class is the real reason. Thus class and economic policy rather than migration and populism is the real reason.

Corbyn-and-Team.jpg

This should make it clear that the radical change in direction under Corbyn will enable those working-class voters to be regained for Labour and there is some evidence that this occurred in 2017. Where there was a large Ukip vote in 2015 and a Ukip candidate this time, the Conservatives gained on Labour, but where Ukip was not on the ballot the Tories and Labour fared about equally – a pattern first identified by BBC Newsnight’s Chris Cook. (FT 14.6.17)

So to further increase the Labour vote we need to further increase the likelihood of working class voters returning to it. This requires a particular approach and a refutation of the patronising middle-class view of the working class as all reactionary UKIP bigots.

There must be a clear attempt to increase the proportion of elected representatives from the working class. The current situation makes dire reading. Cairney et al (2016) show that 36.8% of Labour MPs were from a Professional background in 2010, only 8.7% were from a blue or white collar background.. Shamefully however it is amongst MEPs that we find the greatest problem. In 2014 amongst its 20 MEPS not 1 came from a blue or white collar background and 5% came from a business background.

Ipsos Mori showed (https://www.ipsos.com/ipsos-mori/en-uk/how-britain-voted-2017-election) that not many of those who did not vote in 2015 and 2016 voted in 2017. However of those that did, 60% of them voted for Labour. The emphasis on inequality and injustice in the Manifesto must contribute to this

However to follow this up we need to ensure we seek to get as many people registered as possible and identify those wards where there seems to be a marked difference between the electoral register and the population and then secondly to create an appeal to those who still resist voting Labour to explain that the Labour party is now safe for working-class people. This does however mean constantly challenging ignorant middle class stereotypes found even amongst Labour members about the working class being right-wing and reactionary. We must think carefully about our message and our candidates.

We want our party back!

One of the myths of recent times is that social class is less significant. The original idea of embourgeoisement was rightly derided, the echoes of it appear in arguments about...

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