“Voting Labour – Despite Everything”

Too many Westminster politicians and journalists regard debates about political principle as eccentric distractions from the vital questions of who is up and who is down, who has gaffed disastrously and who has spun successfully. So I was not expecting oratory that could lift the heart when I asked Douglas Alexander and Ed Balls at a press conference last week why left-of-centre voters should stick with Labour rather than vote Liberal Democrat. But I was expecting a reason better than: “Well, if you vote Liberal Democrat you could let the Tories take power.”

Read the whole thing..

6 thoughts on ““Voting Labour – Despite Everything”

  1. Oh Dear Nick

    I feel you have let yourself down this week. I am used to your promotion of the BNP by slating them without empathy for the vile feeling of slowly being made to feel like a foreigner in your own country – causing readers to react favourably towards the BNP to obtain balance. But this week to say the 10,000 tax allowance will not affect the poor is ludicrous. There are plenty of people loaded with debt who cannot save a pound – the definition of poor – for whom the extra money will be a divine blessing.

  2. You have to understand how tax allowances work. Here’s how the Institute of Fiscal Studies and the Fabians explain it

    Last month, Left Foot Forward posted a blog highlighting research by the two of us, which argued that the Liberal Democrats’ manifesto pledge to spend £17 billion increasing the income tax personal allowance to £10,000 “fails the fairness test”. Among other reasons, we argued that:

    • It would do nothing to help the very poorest, who don’t have incomes large enough to pay income tax;

    • Only around £1 billion of the £17 billion cost of the policy actually goes toward the stated aim of lifting low-income households of the tax;

    • Households in the second-richest decile would gain on average four times the amount that those in the poorest decile gain; and

    • The policy would increase socially damaging inequalities between the bottom and middle of the income distribution.

    The well-respected Institute for Fiscal Studies published its assessment of the parties’ spending plans on Tuesday. Their distributional analysis reaches similar conclusions to ours. As the IFS puts it, “these figures are a reminder that income tax cuts are not well targeted to help the poorest in society… in isolation, this giveaway could not be described as progressive.”

    As we pointed out in our earlier publication, the Liberal Democrat manifesto also contains a number of revenue-raising measures that are progressive and welcome – for example, the ‘mansion tax’ on domestic property values above £2 million, and measures to tackle tax avoidance measures. Many have criticised using some of these measures to fund a permanent tax cut on the grounds that the revenue is either unidentified (in the case of the anti-avoidance measures) or potentially variable (in the case of the green taxes or restricting pensions tax relief, where revenue is dependent on behaviour not changing). And it should be said that other parties are also seeking to raise revenue from sources like high-value property and tackling tax avoidance. Nevertheless, these measures are in theory highly progressive.

    But this in no way changes the fact that there are much better ways of spending £17 billion than delivering a tax cut that fails completely in its stated aim of “offering real help – and hope – to millions of low income families”.

    The IFS notes:

    “Broadly speaking, the Liberal Democrat package would redistribute from the well-off to middle-income families – augmenting the progressive pattern of Labour’s pre-announced measures but doing little for the poorest households. This latter feature might appear odd given the Liberal Democrats’ often-expressed anger at the relatively high rate of tax paid on the gross income of the poorest households.”

    Our own report had described the irony of the Lib Dems justifying their tax cut by using the fact that the poorest in society pay a higher share of their gross income in tax than everyone else. Not only does this tax cut do nothing for the poorest, but because on average it gives more proportionally to richer households than to poorer ones, it would increase the differential between what the poorest pay and what everyone else pays.

    So we renew our call on the Lib Dems to replace this proposal with a fairer alternative – or, at least to stop selling it in terms of ‘fairness’. We note that some Lib Dem election leaflets during this campaign have inaccurately described this proposal as being worth “£100 to pensioners”. But, of course, it is only worth £100 to pensioners who pay income tax – roughly, the richest 40 per cent of pensioners. This policy would give some support to the richest 40 per cent of pensioners and nothing to the poorest 60 per cent.

    That’s not fairness.

  3. To see what a difference Labour’s made in one constituency, look up Holme Valley Labour Party – click on “Our survey.” It’s raw and rough, but the content is what’s important. I have tried to get it passed up to The Top, but made no progress. Will you please send it on to anyone who could bring it to GB’s attention? Radio has just said he’s warning of threats to school and hospital improvements if Tories get their hands on them again…..the survey gives incontrovertible evidence of their dire record. Survey took months to put together,and it hasn’t been used as much as had been hoped. Bob Vant

  4. I blow a low whistle at your argument. You’re a tough man, Nick Cohen.
    I want only something good to happen to labour.
    But Gordon Brown has turned the labour party into that most avoided creature, a bore.
    He is the supreme bore and is offering the electorate the labore party. I know it’s a terrible pun but look at that reply to Nick Cohen’s question. Michael Gove would still answer better than that if he’d swallowed a valium the size of a bar of soap.

  5. Remember Tony Blair had in at Downing street a former editor of the Times, who wrote a book about it, 30 days, and Michael Cockerell was inside poking his camera around as well. No such thing with Brown over the last two years, was there. And I think Cameron won’t be letting in anyone of that sort too.
    It’s been about 15 years since I last read Viz and it’s just came to me who Gordon Brown really reminds me of – it’s big Vern.
    I wonder if they’ll be doing an election strip where Vern refuses to leave Downing street and blows his head off?

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