Why Labour believes in higher pay for some and lower pay for others

From the early days of the Labour party and the Union movement its leaders faced a conflict. They said they wanted greater equality, but their Union supporters wanted higher pay for higher skills. Those who wanted to create, extend and defend differentials, higher pay for more skilled working, won the battle of ideas.

The Union movement became a means to defend craft and skill levels and to ensure that they gained extra pay for them. At times these were good, ensuring skill and quality in the work. At times this acted as a restraint on innovation and competition, preventing others from offering their labour without the qualification or Union membership to back their search for work.

Today the Labour movement lives with its contradictions. Labour does not wish to see the professional restrictions on legal or medical work pulled down, accepting the need for long training and up to date skills. In turn they accept the case for much higher pay for people who have these qualifications. They accept the need for higher pay for shop floor and senior management, and pay their own Union bosses well above the average of the workers they represent.

It is true the Labour and Union movement wishes to move lower pay up – as do many of us who are not part of their political movement. It is also true that in office, like any other government, Labour accepts they have to do this at an affordable pace for taxpayers. As lower pay moves up, they are also normally keen to increase higher pay as well, as the doctrine of the differential is engrained in their thinking.

It is wrong of Labour to claim they are the party of equality. They are more truly the party of differentials, the very opposite approach. They usually support more and more regulation of jobs, requiring more training and qualifications. This in turn restricts the supply of labour to these chosen occupations, and forces the differentials up compared to people in low skill jobs.

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  1. lifelogic
    Posted December 2, 2013 at 6:37 am | Permalink

    There are indeed lots of training requirements and over qualification barriers to entry to many professions. These can be very negative on balance legally baring competent people for the sake of a certificate. The medical profession, boiler repairs and legal professions being good examples. Clearly one need to be able to do the job but endless bit of paper and the legal need for endless training sessions can prevent them.

    • Anonymous
      Posted December 2, 2013 at 11:42 am | Permalink

      Legal is the worst.

      The telephone books are packed with solicitors. Engineers are far fewer.

      How can it be that we were charged recently £6o per hour for a structural engineer – a first class Cambridge graduate, in engineering, with 40 years experience and professional accreditation and yet we were charged £160 per hour for a newly qualified lawyer whose basic degree was in non-related English Literature from an ordinary university ?

      • Iain Gill
        Posted December 2, 2013 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

        Since the collapse of the West Coast train franchise deal a lot of public sector projects have been swarming with external legal teams. The civil servants find it easier to hire lots of lawyers than use any common sense. Indeed I know one big public sector IT programme where the massive legal team is bigger than the core IT design team, and the legal team overrides technical design decisions that they don’t have the basic understandings to question. It can be hilarious watching lawyers spend weeks asking questions to which the basic answer is go back to college and study computer science for a few years… It makes a change from military officers doing the same (quite how the public sector think running an artillery regiment qualifies you for running a IT programme is beyond me). Rather predictably these big programmes are late, going belly up, but the leaders seem to keep getting paid in the public sector. Oh yea and the senior lawyers all seem to have been to the same public schools as the cabinet, and they don’t mind letting everyone know they can pull strings with their connections, the worst kind of non meritocratic stuff going on, this country does remind me of a tin pot corrupt nation sometimes.

      • John Eustace
        Posted December 2, 2013 at 6:04 pm | Permalink

        As an engineer with daughters who are both solicitors, I would say you got off lightly at £160 per hour. Of course the lawyer him or herself will not see anything like this – the profit goes to the partners.
        And that phone book is getting less crowded as the big law firms come to dominate and the smaller ones merge or go under.

        Engineers are not respected or rewarded as professionals in this country to anything like the level they are abroad – to everyone’s detriment.

        The scandal in my view is the number of young people who are trained as lawyers at great cost and in numbers far in excess of the actual requirement resulting in many being left with large debts and no suitable job. The ones who do get a position are very hard working, capable, and lucky.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted December 2, 2013 at 9:33 pm | Permalink

        Indeed a lot of complete dopes being charged out at £300 + per hour. Governments and the EU keep churning out more and more daft regulations, laws and tax rules so this is what we get – more and more parasitic activity.

      • uanime5
        Posted December 2, 2013 at 11:01 pm | Permalink

        In order to practise as a lawyer you need a law degree (3 years), take a one year long Legal Practice Course (LPC), and have to undertake a two year training course. If you have a non-law degree you also need a Common Professional Examination (CPE) or Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL). So the English Literature graduate has probably spent at least 7 years trying to become a lawyer.

        • Anonymous
          Posted December 3, 2013 at 11:06 am | Permalink

          Uanime5 – And the engineer didn’t spend 7 years becoming an engineer ?

          Plus people die and he goes to prison if he gets his sums wrong ?

      • alan jutson
        Posted December 3, 2013 at 7:49 am | Permalink


        Surprised you got away with £160 per hour !

        You can easily double that in the Southeast, and still have to do most of the work yourself.

        Sounds about right for a structuaral engineer though.

      • stred
        Posted December 4, 2013 at 6:19 am | Permalink

        My friend is a scientist inventing, running and finding funding for 3 medical research projects, lecturing, running a masters degree, and doing the marking and admin required by the management. Putting in 80 hours a week, the take home pay amounts to £12 / hour. the university uses a firm of patent lawyers and when being advised how the product worked he let slip that his fee was charged at £500 / hour.

        The last time I worked as an architect, during John Major’s decision to put the economy right, the engineer and I made about £2/hour after Building Control required 14 pages of calculations and full house drawings for a room in the roof. It seems that regulation affects engineers and architects in a negative way, but lawyers in a positive where they are paid on a time charge. This seems odd when British engineers have a worldwide reputation and only make real money when working abroad.

      • Bazman
        Posted December 8, 2013 at 8:09 pm | Permalink

        Industry is second class and trade less than the city. Hence the City bailouts and their reliance on benefits. Simples for simpletons and mindless apologists. Ram it.

  2. lifelogic
    Posted December 2, 2013 at 6:42 am | Permalink

    It is interesting to see professions that at the top levels pay well and indeed the ones that pay even the second rate well such as the legal profession and medicine.

    Clearly in football when one can only have 11 on the field you want the best 11 at almost any price. In the case of say RBS where you could has 10 good people for the price of one I am not so sure.

    In aircraft design and engineering there are many brilliant people earning rather little.

    • Bazman
      Posted December 8, 2013 at 8:11 pm | Permalink

      Where do landlords and rich people like yourself who married money fit?

  3. Richard1
    Posted December 2, 2013 at 8:09 am | Permalink

    There is a long tradition of hypocrisy in the Labour party. Look at all those Labour MPs who have sent their children to independent or selective schools. Look at Ed Milliband’s posturing on fuel bills, having introduced the Climate Change Act – the express purpose of which is to make carbon fuels expensive. This hypocrisy will never change, but its important to point it out to ensure Labour don’t get into power again.

    • formula57
      Posted December 2, 2013 at 9:10 am | Permalink

      Well said! You might have added the example of the NHS, where Burham’s stewardship (amongst others) meant it was anything but safe in New Labour hands.

      Alas the Conservatives typically seem reluctant to expose New Labour’s true record. When government ministers did so briefly a while ago – notably Hunt on the NHS and Gove on Education – that produced a shift in their favour in the polls and led to charges that they were behaving as if they were in Opposition. They should do so more often to the benefit if the people: why they do not is a mystery.

      • uanime5
        Posted December 2, 2013 at 11:03 pm | Permalink

        Given that Lansley had several votes of no confidence against him, Hunt is having problems because Lansely’s reforms are cause major problems, and no one wants to go to Gove’s academies is it any wonder why they don’t want to point out any problems in the NHS or education.

        Reply I do not recall any votes of no confidence in Mr Lansley.

        • Tad Davison
          Posted December 3, 2013 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

          There seems to be a difference Uni. Did you just make it up?

        • Bazman
          Posted December 3, 2013 at 8:41 pm | Permalink

          Except by the nurses who 99% pass vote of no confidence in his NHS reforms in 20111, but no doubt that does not count as what would that bunch of lefty woman know? Well he did apologise…

    • Leslie Singleton
      Posted December 2, 2013 at 11:56 am | Permalink

      Richard–John replied to me the other day that if UKIP poll 10% that will mean Labour get back in. This puzzles me (I cannot see how likely numbers would support that) but in any event I cannot see much risk of that because Labour have shot their bolt with the drivel they have been talking recently which whatever happens they cannot credibly keep talking about till 2015. Balls in particular was as wrong as wrong can be and has lost all credibility–his comments yesterday about Energy being particularly fatuous. I am no lover of what passes for the Conservative Party these days but at least they are trying on Energy as against professing to be able to stop the World going round. Not to mention Miliband’s problems with Finance and anti-worker entities such as Unite. So Steady The Buffs and Be Of Good Cheer.

      • Kenneth
        Posted December 2, 2013 at 9:04 pm | Permalink

        Yes but on “Week in Westminster” on Radio 4 last night the BBC were hammering the message that Labour have gained the initiative in the argument over energy prices and the coalition are reacting to them.

        Whether the BBC’s opinion is right or wrong, it has – and I guarantee will continue to – ignore Ed Ball’s embarrassment over his recent bad judgements.

        Put it this way, the BBC buried the story about Ed Balls “being a nightmare” according to leaked emails sent from Ed Milliband’s office. As trivial as this story may be, we all know that a similar exchange in Conservative HQ would have been all over the BBC.

        Whatever the shortcomings of Labour, these will largely be kept from public gaze by the BBC.

        • Richard1
          Posted December 2, 2013 at 11:09 pm | Permalink

          What the BBC has buried is that Ed Balls, along with the BBC’s coterie of selected leftist economists – Messrs Blanchflower, Stiglitz, Krugman etc – appear to have got the UK economy completely wrong. The neo-keynesian approach (Keynes himself would never have supported Brown’s debt-fueled spending binge) has been debunked.

      • Richard1
        Posted December 2, 2013 at 11:18 pm | Permalink

        No-one who believes in an independent self-governing UK or in free markets, small govt, low taxes etc should vote UKIP at the general election. It will serve only to let in Miliband. Then we will have no referendum on the EU, PR in the UK to prevent a majority Tory govt and all the statist nonsense the Labour party support. The European election on the other hand is another matter….

    • lifelogic
      Posted December 2, 2013 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

      There is a long tradition of hypocrisy in the Labour party. Indeed in left wing (especially) politics in general. “Do as I say not as I do” and “I might give you someone else’s money if you vote for me” – This seems to be the lefty approach, while they send their children off to private or similar schools and help themselves to huge expenses and pensions paid for by others.

      • Bazman
        Posted December 3, 2013 at 8:42 pm | Permalink

        Seems to apply to the right even more.

    • Bob
      Posted December 2, 2013 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

      To be fair, the Tories supported the Climate Change Act.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted December 2, 2013 at 9:37 pm | Permalink

        True but why? Where they just stupid, caught up by the new daft religion, career place men or did they have too many “consultancies”?

      • Richard1
        Posted December 2, 2013 at 11:13 pm | Permalink

        To me this illustrates how easy it is for whole swathes of opinion to be swept along by prevailing fashion. To us now we see the climate change act was an absurdity. So when we hear that all governments, or all scientific institutions ‘believe in climate change’ or some such formulation, we should remember it is the same thing – large numbers of people, including well informed and intelligent people , get swept along and support the fashionable prevailing orthodoxy. It doesn’t mean its right.

    • peter davies
      Posted December 2, 2013 at 5:45 pm | Permalink

      Indeed look no further than YouTube to hear Milliband talking about high energy prices and the need to sacrifice growth to “save the planet”. Where do they get these people from?

  4. JoolsB
    Posted December 2, 2013 at 8:09 am | Permalink


    As I said yesterday, the Tories can hardly brag about their record on equality, not when it comes to England’s young, England sick and England’s elderly they can’t. Post graduates in England will spend most of their working lives paying an extra 9p in income tax out of every pound they earn more than their peers in the rest of the UK.

    Despite their mantra that ‘we are all in this together’ the Tories are hardly the party of equality either. People in glass houses and all that!!

    Reply Conservatives do not claim to be making everyone equal. It does not take the rest of your working life to repay the student loan.

    • JoolsB
      Posted December 2, 2013 at 9:22 am | Permalink

      It could take up to 30 years to pay the debt off, after which time it will be written off by the Government.It is a graduate tax in all but name but will mostly only affect ENGLAND’s young. 9p extra in income tax plus interest and that’s before they think about getting their foot on the property ladder or starting a family.

      It’s blatant discrimination against England John and the Tories will pay a heavy price in 2015 for treating England with the same contempt as Labour.

      Reply It was a Lib Dem policy proposed and introduced by Dr Cable.

      • JoolsB
        Posted December 2, 2013 at 9:27 am | Permalink

        Maybe the Tories don’t claim to make everyone equal but my point is they are making some much more unequal than others based purely on their nationality. Obviously the Tories are happy and indifferent to the unequal way the people of England are being treated both financially and politically and they wonder why we are all turning to UKIP.

        The Tory party obviously have a death wish to treat England so unfairly.

        • Old Albion
          Posted December 2, 2013 at 10:01 am | Permalink

          Another good try Jools. But as i said yesterday. (when it comes to England) Westminster ain’t listening.

          • JoolsB
            Posted December 2, 2013 at 11:20 am | Permalink

            How true Old Albion. Not one of the three main parties give a toss about the rotten deal England is getting. Dare say the Tories will think about addressing the English Question when it’s too late and England is handed over to an even more anti-English Labour Government in 2015 against it’s will.

            Considering the Tories are pretty much dead outside of England, you’d think the idiots would do something about it now wouldn’t you?

          • Jennifer A
            Posted December 2, 2013 at 11:50 am | Permalink

            Old Albion – They really don’t seem to give a monkey’s toss about us do they.

            I’m finding it all so offensive really.

      • Mike Wilson
        Posted December 2, 2013 at 10:45 am | Permalink

        30 years to pay off their student loan is a mere bagatelle in the scheme of things. By the time we are no longer borrowing to fund government spending – allegedly in 2020 – how big will the debt be then? It has to be best part of 2 trillion pounds. Even repaying that at 10 thousand, million pounds a year (which is a LOT of money) it will take 200 years to repay the capital.

        How much will the interest be? Because, surely, it would be absurd to borrow 2 trillion pounds without knowing how much interest you will pay? But, no, politicians DO NOT CARE ABOUT THE NEXT GENERATION – all they care about is the NEXT ELECTION. How many times, in the 200 years it will take to repay this capital, will the debt be rolled over? What interest will the government of the day have to pay when the debt is rolled over. Who knows? Who cares eh? Our great, great, great grandchildren can worry about it.

        Student debt? It’s a trifle by comparison

      • JoolsB
        Posted December 2, 2013 at 11:22 am | Permalink

        Reply to reply:

        ” It was a Lib Dem policy proposed and introduced by Dr Cable.”

        Which every Conservative MPs with the exception of 6 voted in favour of. Shame on every one of them!

      • ian wragg
        Posted December 2, 2013 at 11:26 am | Permalink

        I thought the Limp Dumbs were totally opposed to tuition fees. Statements like that John are one of the reasons why the Tories are dead at the EU and General Election.

        Reply The Lib Dems did a big u turn on tuition fees

        • formula57
          Posted December 2, 2013 at 6:24 pm | Permalink

          To explain tuition fees, I keep this link to hand: http://www.johnredwoodsdiary.com/2011/05/07/the-lib-dems-are-not-the-governments-human-shield/

          Since that time Clegg has apologized for having pledges and we should apparently expect no more.

        • Credible
          Posted December 2, 2013 at 6:52 pm | Permalink

          If it was only the Lib Dems that did a u-turn on tuition fees, the Conservatives must have been in favour of them all along. How pathetic to blame the Lib Dems for this policy.

          Now we can move to having the right sort of country, in which only the right sort of chaps get the best education simply because their parents are rich.

        • Old Albiion
          Posted December 2, 2013 at 7:24 pm | Permalink

          There would be no tuition fees for English students at all, if the Scots had been prevented from voting on an English issue.

    • lifelogic
      Posted December 2, 2013 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

      50% of student loans will not be repaid at all it seems, especially by woman taking career breaks for children.

      • Trevor Butler
        Posted December 2, 2013 at 7:51 pm | Permalink

        ..Or as my children have told me…Emigrate as soon as they can

      • Bazman
        Posted December 3, 2013 at 8:43 pm | Permalink

        Your point is they should not take time off for children or not have them. Which?

  5. Anonymous
    Posted December 2, 2013 at 9:13 am | Permalink

    In various trades the Unions push for diversity and the removal of the qualifications which they think discriminate against it – such as tests for physical fitness, English language and mechanical aptitudes (supposedly discriminating against women and ethnic minorities.)

    As well as reducing standards of service and safety this is no good for the grade either.

    Opening the selection to a limitless field of applicants causes a lowering of rates. The Unionists are either too stupid (or driven by ideology) to see this.

    Where commentators here say “We don’t get services because the Unions operate restrictive selection practices” this simply isn’t true. The exact opposite is the case.

    Whatever restrictions apply to labour supply are now held up – to a minimum – by industry standards and to a maximum by no-win-no-fee lawyers.

    • forthurst
      Posted December 2, 2013 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

      “In various trades the Unions push for diversity and the removal of the qualifications which they think discriminate against it.”

      In the bad old days, the Unions were heavily infested with Marxists whose modus operandi was to bankrupt private industry in order to force the government to save it by nationalisation, thereby assisting with the process of achieving a centralised command economy and their Marxist Utopia. Well, we know how well that worked. In these more enlightened days, the Unions have adopted Cultural Marxism instead with its emphasis on anti-discimination against anyone who might otherwise be considered unsuitable, and even positive discrimination on behalf of such. So, really the Unions are still Marxists, but of the current brand, taught in universities, designed to act as a wrecking ball for our country and culture.
      Will this help to unleash Boris’ ‘mongrel energy’? Possibly, but not necessarily on the basis that that energy would be directed towards competition in the ‘global race’ with the unmongrelised Chinese for higher value added products, rather than towards disharmony and gang warfare.

  6. Iain Gill
    Posted December 2, 2013 at 9:38 am | Permalink

    To be fair I don’t just think its labour. There is a problem with the whole of journalist and political bubble.

    For me I know lots of good, honest, decent, nice people who are part of the old working class communities, and indeed many would now be considered the underclass. This section of society is badly represented in the media and within the political system. Especially in England, there is a lot more balance in Scotland. The way Chavs are depicted, the Jeremy Kyle show, and so on is all very biased. Indeed the way labour pick their MP’s with working class backgrounds these days does not give a good representation of the people I know.

    The Cameron Conservatives do rely far too much on people they know from their very limited section of society, and the way Cameron surrounds himself (and promotes) with people from his own school and extended network of mates is all actively anti meritocratic.

    For me I know the top 2 % in a large state sink school are very bright children, but I also know they have little chance of getting high grades as in such schools the very brightest children routinely only get moderate grades. I do think grades relative to your peers in the school you attended is a better mark of ability than raw grades, and I would like to see this actively considered at college entrance.

    There is a problem with disruptive pupils and one of the challenges is where do the disruptive pupils go? It’s very easy for fee paying schools as they can simply exclude such pupils. One of the problems for the state sector is that they are expected to handle disruptive pupils (of all abilities) within their normal classes, only the most extreme disruptive pupils will get moved outside the mainstream. Handling the disruptive pupils needs urgent action.

    The teaching unions are a big problem, as a lot of problems are caused by their views of society and the way they think things should be organised. Again fee paying schools are largely free from such nonsense.

    For me I would rather much more power be handed to the parents, I would get local authorities completely out of school selection, and I would roll away catchment areas. Give parents buying power and let them negotiate directly with schools.

    The problem with the Conservative old guard and their clamour for grammar schools, with which I have some sympathy, is that the old secondary moderns were so bad. People in a less academic stream should not be getting a rubbish education, rather like in Germany they should be getting an excellent education with a different emphasis. And secondary moderns were also used as the dumping ground for the disruptive pupils, which was unfair on the majority of students. These issues need answering.

    Your analysis of labour misses their attitude to immigration, where they have been quite happy to support mass immigration is skills already in oversupply, decimating some sections of the workforce. (as have the current govt to be fair). I have yet to see a proper analysis of the negative aspects of this given proper airtime in any of the main parties, there is a lazy political bubble acceptance that they know better than the what majority of voters can see instinctively – which I don’t accept at all.
    I actually think the Conservatives could do a lot better is they fought for a proper meritocracy, where ability and hard work and talent counted for a lot more. The labour approach of enforced equality will never work. And the hypocrites of all party leaderships preaching limited choice for parents in schools and dumbing down schools while at the same time pulling strings or lashing cash to protect their own children from their policies need loudly condemning.

  7. Iain Moore
    Posted December 2, 2013 at 9:39 am | Permalink

    The contradiction goes further, for while the Labour movement is supposed to be looking after the working class, they have royally screwed them over mass immigration, and as we heard from Stella Creasy on Any Questions, in the belief that they should be praised having protected workers from an wage deflationary effects of mass immigration, for having brought in the minimum wage. I am sure a skilled craftsman will really appreciate that.

    Of course Labour can get away with hypocrisy, for while their are captive to internationalism, the Conservatives are captive to globalism and the corporates, with the result no one speaks up for the British.

    • The PrangWizard
      Posted December 2, 2013 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

      I read that Joe Hockley, Australia’s Treasurer has blocked the sale of Australia’s GrainCorp to US giant Archer Daniels Midland (ADM). Pity we don’t have people here with courage like him, to speak for England (or Britain if you wish); England particularly because she has no-one designated to speak for her, so can always be disadvantaged, as correspondents on these pages often point out.

    • Jennifer A
      Posted December 2, 2013 at 10:51 pm | Permalink

      Minimum wage ?

      Gee thanks !

      A fat lot of use when houses rocketed to 10x average salaries between 1997 and 2007 and rents went through the roof.

  8. John Eustace
    Posted December 2, 2013 at 9:40 am | Permalink

    I’m not convinced that increasing minimum pay will hurt the taxpayer.

    Companies that pay less than a living wage are in effect being subsidised by taxpayers when their employees claim top up benefits in order to survive. Taking people out of the benefits system by increasing tax thresholds and pay would be good in every way and surely popular.

    If Amazon for example had to pay their pickers a bit more would that really impact the taxpayer? It’s not as if they could pay any less Corporation Tax.

    If only there was someone in the Conservative party blessed with a few more brain cells than IDS who could sort out the tax and benefits system…..

    • Jennifer A
      Posted December 2, 2013 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

      The same goes for ‘cheap’ foreign taxi drivers.

      Most I’ve had to give directions to – some I’ve even had to tell them how to drive !!!

      Yet when ‘Bob’ – 50 years old, recently redundant and too proud to seek dole – is priced out of the taxi driving market and forced on to job seekers allowance (paid for by us) we are told that this arrangement is better for us because we are getting ‘cheap’ taxis (the fares don’t seem to change for the better either as it happens.)

      There is nothing like the urgency or empathy that we seek from Number 10.

      Clearly Mr Cameron thinks we are fools.

      I am every bit as sick of the sight of the man as I was Tony Blair.

  9. Bert Young
    Posted December 2, 2013 at 9:50 am | Permalink

    Ed Milliband’s cry at the moment is to concentrate on high added value manufactured goods and services to keep us in the race with the Chinese . He is right to point this out, but , he is wrong not to point to the changes needed in educational development and training .We have always been exposed to international competition and have welcomed international investment to our shores ; we gained much in re-aligning our organisation structures ,management efficiency and product planning as a result . Where he goes wrong is to set the changes needed in a social context ; he should leave the metamorphosis to open market competition and the pressure to succeed .

    • uanime5
      Posted December 2, 2013 at 11:17 pm | Permalink

      We have always been exposed to international competition and have welcomed international investment to our shores

      Actually after WW1 there was a high degree of protectionism and a strong discouragement of buying things from abroad.

  10. Mike Wilson
    Posted December 2, 2013 at 9:59 am | Permalink

    I don’t really care about Labour bashing – or Tory bashing – or political in-fighting between the two of you. Between the two of you, you have destroyed the economy and our culture.

    What I am interested in today is the bloody EU interfering in our (Finally! At last! After years of government dithering!) decision to build a nuclear power station (at a truly ludicrous cost and on very unfavourable terms!).

    When are the elected MPs in this country going to ignore their bloody leaders and the bloody EU and say NO!

    Reply I have told you what I am doing with my support for the latest Bill Cash/Select Committee initiative, and the amendment a group of us are pressing to the Immigration Bill. I do not intend to write about sorting out the EU every day!

    • Mike Wilson
      Posted December 2, 2013 at 11:28 am | Permalink

      The inability of anyone in your party to represent what the people think – 80% do not want the next wave of immigration – will consign your party to the dustbin of history.

    • Brian Tomkinson
      Posted December 2, 2013 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

      Reply to reply,
      The sad truth is that the leaders of the three triplets in Westminster are all determined to keep the UK subservient to the EU and whatever you or Bill Cash say or do will not alter that. Now, if only you and Bill Cash hadn’t lost your nerves, when Major deployed his confidence vote trick, and put party before country when he called your bluff over Maastricht.

  11. Atlas
    Posted December 2, 2013 at 10:57 am | Permalink

    Does Lib-Dem “Fairness” equate to Labour’s “Equality” ?

  12. English Pensioner
    Posted December 2, 2013 at 11:01 am | Permalink

    I’m sorry to say it, but in many ways the Tories are just as bad as Labour. They appear to be doing their best to increase the differentials between the high and low earners. One only has to look at the ridiculously high salaries and bonuses being paid to many state employees. The NHS is a prime example, each Trust seems to have very highly paid (and in many cases far from competent) senior administrators, being paid far more than they would receive in a similar sized public company. “Chief Executives” aka Town Clerks in local councils receive salaries that those working for similar sized non-state organisations can only dream about. And as for the top bankers, well they must live in a different world!
    Both Labour and Tories seem just as bad in their own way, doing absolutely nothing for the majority on middling salaries who seem to loose out under either party.
    Until John Major, I had always supported the Tories, but they will now have to work very hard if they want my vote at the next general election, I’ve reached the point where I accept that a vote for UKIP may let Labout in, but so what, there’s little to chose between either party from my perspective.

  13. ian wragg
    Posted December 2, 2013 at 11:32 am | Permalink

    I see the BBC was in Bulgaria and Romania this morning so called analysing the intentions of the population on Jan 1st. (sentence left out ed) Bulgarian man doesn’t think more than 10 – 15,000 will come each year. He would say that wouldn’t he. Just wait till the papers start featuring (cases ed) and watch UKIP soar.

  14. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted December 2, 2013 at 11:56 am | Permalink

    I’d like to go a little bit off topic and mention a recent blog of Dan Hannan’s that has been e-mailed to me. Apparently the European Court has recently given rulings that ignore opt outs that the UK negotiated explicitly from the Lisbon Treaty. There is only one response to that and that is to ‘go nuclear’. The UK should withdraw recognition of that court and legislate accordingly. Don’t wait for 2017; let’s have a motion in the House of Commons now and see if the PM takes it up.

  15. David Tomlinson
    Posted December 2, 2013 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

    For once, JR, I think you are taking too simplistic a view.
    British mass membership trade unions (unlike German trade unions especially) have generally been anatagonistic to higher skill levels – they wanted equality maintained through mass membership of the semi-skilled, and were therefore very similar in approach to political Labour’s levelling down achievement of equality. They were not rooted in the guild approach, thus the conflicts ranging from those with the typographers in the print to ASLEF v. NUR (both v. the TSSA on a class issue).
    As an example: as a Director of a British shipping company in the 70s I tried to get British seafarer skills (I called them rope pullers they were so low grade) up to our French and Norwegian crews. But I was bedevilled by the central bargaining beloved of corporatist Britain: the NUS had insisted that the pay differential between semi skilled seafarer (av. pay then £5000 pa) and a skilled pipe fitter or welder (who would have to work much harder than a rope puller) should be a max of 10%. And nobody would do all the training and much harder work for another 10%.
    Similarly Iwanted to recruit redundant highly skilled shipyard workers to go to sea as maintenance running crews (as our Norwegian ships had) – not allowed by the NUS who kept the skill levels down with an industry wide pre-entry closed shop.
    I got out before British shipping went bust – but I won’t bore you with tales of my next industry – engineering contracting, except to say that working on building nuclear plants in both France and UK I reckoned the French built theirs in half the time at two thirds the cost, and of course using a technology still current instead of the dead end the UK followed.

  16. behindthefrogs
    Posted December 2, 2013 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

    If the government was serious about helping the low paid, it would remove NI contributions from employees earning less than£10k per annum.

  17. Acorn
    Posted December 2, 2013 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

    I take it this post only applies to the internal tribulations of the Working Class section of the economy and its toy parliament that you keep us amused and confused with. That is, it does not apply to the Political Class; Capital Class or the Global Elite Class (ie. the beautiful people). The latter having influence that transcends the boundaries of nations (and there tax collectors), to form a worldwide social group based on glamour, wealth and power. The global elite also normally send their children to boarding schools in Switzerland and United Kingdom. (HT: WIKI).

    The UK middle class are covertly being demoted to the working class. Elitist governments fear an educated middle class, the group that is most likely to oust them from power, (think Latin America, Thailand etc). The working class just set fire to things; run out of ideas and leaders; go back to watch Strictly or X Factor on’t telly.

    Before long, London will be the only functional bit left of England. It will be the casino banking capital of the planet. Boris will have to build a wall around it, like Israel built the West Bank wall. This to keep 45 million unemployed Englanders out of it. I am assuming the UK will be no more and Scotland; Wales and NI will have found an alternate cash machine to England.

    May your children have a nice future 😉 .

  18. julian
    Posted December 2, 2013 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

    Interesting way of looking at the fundamental philosophy of Labour and the unions!
    I don’t think any party cares much about the power paid as both Labour and the Conservatives have allowed the average wage x 3 to trail entry level mortgages for many years.

  19. The PrangWizard
    Posted December 2, 2013 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

    I am swimming against the tide here I know and many will howl, but I am against the minimum wage and of course the ‘living wage’ concepts, which I would like to see abolished. If I had the chance I would link this to a reform ie., a simplification, of employment and income tax laws so as to get back much nearer to freedom of contract. I’m sure together these changes would create more work and opportunity for many and help businesses, without impoverishment or exploitation. I could say more but will leave it that as I think my bus has gone.

  20. David Hope
    Posted December 2, 2013 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

    Some good points. I have noticed in the last few years how many of my friends from University have had to take courses in order to do any job. Even masters courses to become a librarian,work in a branding company etc.

    Not all are legally required though many in the Labour party try and add legal requirements whenever they can get away with it. But overall there is a serious problem with everything requiring a piece of paper and more debt and wasted time. Most jobs can be learned on the job and don’t require a masters or any professional qualification.

    If you ever suggest this though all the vested interests come shouting about how you are trying to damage the stature of the profession. Which really says all you need to know – that’s all it is about most of the time – it is irrelevant to the ability to do the job

  21. margaret brandreth-j
    Posted December 2, 2013 at 5:22 pm | Permalink

    The contradiction in term continues.A Nurse can have more training , continual update , skills and experience than a Doctor and supposedly the’ Agenda for change’ whitepaper gives equal pay and credit for those doing the same job. This is theoretical legislation , theoretical in that is has not worked out in the ways it was set. What has happened is that much plagiarism is apparent. Skills are being put under the name of another, pseudo complaints are rife, the employers who are the ones taking credit for others skills and standing on a notion that it is one person carries out a job. They have been accredited with one set of qualifications sometimes in another country , then because of that title assumed that they must be superior.
    At present the more powerful profession set are making play to put others down and ‘ keep them under control’ It is fear and jealously of the loss of a good income and prestige which has been attributed to them over the decades whether they can do the job or not. The truth is the ones who clan together and look as though they come out on top are often the worst and the ones who are put down , the best.
    One person observes the good work another has done and can’t keep up with it , so they wait for an angle and a way they can adversely criticize, then put in writing and make a fuss about, then push that person out so they can steal the credit.It is greed.
    It is amazing how one person in many jobs can be the best, the top , then suddenly given the sack and another 3 people brought in to to take the job , until it is obvious that the system isn’t working. The spite and negative competition is rife and the unions are frequently backing up the side where they won’t lose.

  22. Kenneth
    Posted December 2, 2013 at 8:53 pm | Permalink

    We (should have) a perfectly good system for setting salaries, which is market forces.

    If markets were left alone, within the rule of law, then the market will very efficiently match salaries to skills & scarcity etc and, for that matter will match jobs to those searching for jobs and will match retail prices to customers’ tolerance to pay those prices.

    A free market will also stop excessive accumulations of capital and will reduce to gap between rich and poor and reduce poverty.

    A very efficient system that requires no great bureaucracy

    If only we could try it some day.

    • uanime5
      Posted December 2, 2013 at 11:28 pm | Permalink

      If we left it to the markets there’d be no low paid jobs because everyone in those jobs would be forced to work for free. All the free market does is take money from the poor and give it to the wealthy since the wealthy can manipulate the free market in their favour.

      • Edward2
        Posted December 3, 2013 at 10:58 am | Permalink

        When or where did a free market result in employees being forced to work for nothing?
        I’ve seen several communist states in the twentieth century where slave labour has routinely happened.

        One of your more ridiculous posts.
        You seem to be getting even more left wing recently Uni.

        • petermartin2001
          Posted December 3, 2013 at 8:37 pm | Permalink

          “When or where did a free market result in employees being forced to work for nothing?”

          They are called internships. Those who offer them may object to the use of the word ‘forced’ but the idea is to entice young people to work for nothing for a period of time with the possibility of a paid job at the end of it.

          • Edward2
            Posted December 4, 2013 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

            Internships are a chance for mostly young people to spend some time in an organisation to get some useful work experience and an idea of what a particular career may entail.

            No one is forced into doing this.

            It seems very popular with those that freely apply.

            (My personal view is that they should get some pay)

      • Kenneth
        Posted December 3, 2013 at 11:36 am | Permalink

        If people worked for free they would starve. We would also not see the excessively rich and the poverty that has built up under socialism.

        Socialism is a grossly unfair system that causes misery.

    • Bazman
      Posted December 3, 2013 at 8:52 pm | Permalink

      Thats worked for the last 30 years hasn’t it Kenneth especially in banking who being allowed to do what they like saw the largest gap ever and their collapse. Not enough free market? get real. The wages of the top directors has risen 180%+ over the last 10 year as their share price has fallen.The middle classes have taken a huge hit in pay which for most is lower than 10 years ago. Anyone telling us pay is high needs to get real. Big business cannot afford nothing, but massive and unreal pay rises for their elite is not a problem as they vote for each others pay. Yes they do via their laughably called remuneration committees. Imagine a union having one of these and setting workers pay?! What is remuneration? Do cleaners get this too? My respect is less than fag paper thin for these scroungers at the top which are often benefit tourists too.

      • Kenneth
        Posted December 4, 2013 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

        We probably agree on more than you realise. Banking is certainly NOT a free market. Large corporates hide behind regulations and govt. lobbying. Most of these are not in a free market.

        If we had a free mrkt the things you describe would not happen

        • Bazman
          Posted December 5, 2013 at 9:18 am | Permalink

          You would need regulations to ensure the market stays free. A big company buys up all the smaller ones and then puts up prices being the most obvious and simple example.

  23. uanime5
    Posted December 2, 2013 at 11:38 pm | Permalink

    They said they wanted greater equality, but their Union supporters wanted higher pay for higher skills.

    These two ideas aren’t incompatible, provided that the difference in salary between the highest and lowest paid is low (for example the highest paid earn 6 times the salary of the lowest paid, rather than 100 times their salary).

    The Union movement became a means to defend craft and skill levels and to ensure that they gained extra pay for them.

    While most employers wanted to pay their staff as little as possible and in many cases want them to work for free (unpaid internships and workfare).

    As lower pay moves up, they are also normally keen to increase higher pay as well, as the doctrine of the differential is engrained in their thinking.

    However this way of thinking doesn’t require that the higher pay levels be increased by the same percentage as the lower pay levels. Thus it’s possible to raise the lower rate of pay while reducing income inequality.

    It is wrong of Labour to claim they are the party of equality. They are more truly the party of differentials, the very opposite approach.

    Incorrect. I’ve already pointed out that you can reduce income inequality while increasing wages provided that those at the higher levels receive an increase of a smaller percentage.

    They usually support more and more regulation of jobs, requiring more training and qualifications. This in turn restricts the supply of labour to these chosen occupations, and forces the differentials up compared to people in low skill jobs.

    Care to provide some evidence to back up this claim. As long as the supply of labour is enough to meet demand the differentials won’t be increased.

    • Edward2
      Posted December 3, 2013 at 11:10 am | Permalink

      “you can reduce income inequality while increasing wages provided that those at the higher levels receive an increase of a smaller percentage”
      Uni, you would sadly take us back to the days when most young people decided becoming an apprentice for 5 years and going to technical college at night to study whilst your mates were out enjoying themselves, was not worth it when you could get good money straight away at 18 years of age, on the shop floor or the track as they used to call it, doing unskilled assembly work.

      Unions were not very interested in supporting the skilled tradesmen in their fight for restoration of differentials as there were far less of them. Their main focus was on the vast majority of unskilled workers and getting them more money.
      It led to a shortage of really skilled engineers which affects us even today,whilst many of those unskilled workers were gradually replaced by automation.

      We need more differentials in pay for those prepared to study for years and do responsible and technically challenging work, not less, if the UK is to survive in a competitive world economy.

      • Bazman
        Posted December 3, 2013 at 8:54 pm | Permalink

        Most never thought it was not worth it they just could not get the apprenticeship and if they did think this were to brain dead to finish it anyway.

        • Edward2
          Posted December 4, 2013 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

          The basic point I was trying to make is, if as Uni suggests, differentials were squeezed, why would anybody bother to take on the extra studying and then take on the extra responsibilities of doing a skilled or supervisory job if the extra pay was not there.
          I’m all for better pay at all levels but you plainly need extra for doing extra and a reward for being skilled.

          • Bazman
            Posted December 5, 2013 at 9:31 am | Permalink

            The bosses dream is tradesman working for labourers rates. Always been that way. Semi automation and automation has in some ways helped that dream, but in other ways retarded it. Many companies want the employee to take on more skills and responsibility without extras pay, but the managers and especially higher managers will not even fart without extra remuneration.
            The terminator type robot of the film of the same name is some way off, but things like driverless cars look set to become a reality very soon and what will the workforce then do. Claim benefits? Err no as the companies will not be paying taxes for this. Ah! retrain at you own expense and work for less pay anyone who cannot do this can have nothing and be happy. See how far that one goes.

  24. petermartin2001
    Posted December 3, 2013 at 5:47 am | Permalink

    Don’t we all believe in pay differentials? The Prime Minister should be paid more than the Leader of the Opposition for example? That is certainly true when Labour are in office just as much as when the Conservatives are. Does anyone say he shouldn’t?

    The question is not whether some people should be paid more than others. There would be very few people who would advocate complete equality. Just where the balance should lie is always going to be a subject for disagreement, though. Should a top manager, in an organisation, be paid 10 times, 20 times, 100 times what the lowest paid worker receives? Or should there no no limit?

    Should the top rate of tax be double, triple the standard rate, or the same?

    These are very difficult questions to answer. There would be no unanimity of opinion in any political party, but maybe the Conservatives would favour higher differentials than the Labour Party. But most Conservatives would still support the notion of some progressive element in the taxation system. They wouldn’t think it was ‘fair’ for everyone to pay at the same rate.

    The Labour Party doesn’t have a monopoly on notions of fairness!

  • About John Redwood

    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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