This is a sometimes 'cheesey' blog about British and American politics and anything else which tickles my fancy!

Sunday, 26 April 2009

Is New Labour dead?

The obituary writers have been in full swing since last Wednesday's Budget.

Lance Price, writing in the Daily Telegraph and Andrew Rawnsley writing in today's Observer have declared New Labour dead.

They point to the new top rate of tax on higher earners as the final nail in the coffin for the Party that won three general election victories in a row.

Now, I have always considered myself to be an uber-Blairite but I don't think the new 50p top rate of tax has to mean the end of the New Labour project.

It is true that the promise not to raise income tax was central to New Labour's appeal in 1997, but that was 1997.

The circumstances have changed since then.

And if the rumours are to be believed that Tony Blair is privately disappointed with the decision, then he should remember that he would be the first to argue that different circumstances require different solutions. The Tony Blair I know would not hark back to an outdated, irrelevant policy. He would adapt to the changing circumstances.

And I believe that is exactly what Brown and Darling have done.

This is not a tax for its own sake. The £2 billion it will bring in every year will go to paying down the national debt.

It also make sense while we are paying for initiatives to help the young and unemployed through the difficult times ahead.

It doesn't have to mark the end of Labour's commitment to aspiration either. Half of the population earn less than £23k. Most people don't even know someone who earns £100k, let alone £150k. The tax isn't going to affect most people. In fact, the lastest opinion polls show that its popular too - so the politics, for now, is right.

More importantly, it is about fairness.

The top earners in this country have done exceptionally well under the Labour Government. It isn't too much to ask them to pay something back and do their fair share helping Britain mend its finances. We all have a part to play - not least the richest in society who have benefited the most. Remember, aspiration also has to come with social justice.

My only regret is that it would have been more convincing had Labour done this during the fat years. I think people would have been more willing to listen to the case then. It may also have been a good idea to hypothecate the revenue from the new top rate and direct it at eradicating child poverty. It would have been harder for the Conservatives and the Tory press to criticise it then. As it is, Labour will miss its child poverty targets now - a cause of great shame to us.

No doubt the doomsayers will argue that aspiration and entrepreneurialism will be gone under the new tax. That there will be a mass exodus as the richest pack their bags and emmigrate to Spain. Let them. I'm willing to call their bluff.

This is about fairness and justice and doing the right thing. In fact, it's the first good decision this Government has made in a while.

Rather than the end of New Labour, maybe its a different version of New Labour: A Better Labour.

1 comment:

BlairSupporter said...

Just thought I'd let you know I've linked to your post here at my blog.

A 'better New Labour', without Tony?

Sorry, New Labour was about vision, courage, leadership and communication skills.

ALL of that is missing now.

If Brown had had the guts to go to the country in September 2007 he'd probably have scraped in, even if with less than the 2005 majority. But of course he should have never 'killed off' The Other. The best leader your party has had in decades. WE the great British public should have stopped that coup, so it's our apathetic fault too.

Brown deserves all he's now getting, imho.

Good luck anyway. Nice to see 'uber-Blairites' still admitting it.