It is difficult squeezing a moment in for Labour with the huge run of news on Scottish secession, English votes, global warming policies and now possible further war in the Middle East. Today I will try, as this is Labour’s week and it would be good to hear from you o n the main alternative on offer in UK politics.
Mr Miliband’s speech summed it all up. Please don’t mention the deficit. Pease, please don’t mention immigration. The EU is just fine, and those open borders have to be accepted. Mr Balls showed how tough we will be in his speech by saying for two years child benefit will only go up by 1% a year.
Mr Miliband has defined the Labour party as the party of the NHS. It is fast becoming the party of the NHS, by some in the NHS, for others in the NHS. IT is at the centre of all they do and say and will clearly be the centre piece of their campaign.
This year they decided to switch the ever popular money from a Mansion Tax. Last year it was going to restore the 10% Income Tax rate. This year it will be spent on the NHS. They carefully exaggerate the amount it will raise by not allowing sufficient for all the income poor people living in expensive London flats who will be allowed to roll up the tax until they die or move.
Offering £2.5bn extra for the NHS which already has a £108 billion budget will not make a lot of difference. After all, this government has increased NHS spending by £10.7bn a year since being in office. This year the increase in spending is £2.7bn or more than Labour ‘s latest plan.
Labour’s vision is of a more equal UK with more spent on the NHS. They may achieve greater equality on their plans, as there would be plenty of reason for rich people and successful companies to move out of the country. They wish to collect less tax from the rich by increasing the rates back to the levels that collected less tax. They are remorselessly anti big business, having special attacks planned on banks, energy companies, finance companies,tobacco companies and others.
Their vision plays well to their narrow core vote audience. Their aspirations that more people should have good training and acquire skills, that more people should be in better paid jobs and more people should own their own home are all things I agree with. The issue there is why didn’t they achieve more in each of these areas when they were in power for 13 years with large majorities? And how does bashing business and potting taxes up help achieve any of this?
One of the curious things is that by7 putting the management of the NHS at heart of his campaign Mr Miliband has denied himself a message in Wales and Scotland. In those parts of the UK health spending and management is devolved to the Scottish parliament and Welsh Assembly. When Labour sends out literature to save the NHS they will be asked which election they are fighting, as the Uk Parliament does not decide !