The announcement by Ed Miliband, the Labour party leader, of his party’s manifesto commitment for the 2015 general election to raise the minimum wage to £8 per hour by 2020 lacks ambition and is all too familiar of Labour these days.
The right wing press has been quick to condemn the proposal as a ‘tax on jobs’, but these are the same people who said much the same thing about having a minimum wage at all, and in the end the sky didn’t fall in.
Indeed the proposal is so modest that over on Labour List where the idea was trumpeted to great a fanfare, you only need to read the comments section to see just how underwhelmed Labour’s activists are with this pitiful offer.
Compare it instead to the Green party proposal to immediately raise the minimum wage to £7.65 per hour (and in London £8.80), and then to £10 per hour by 2020. I wouldn’t even claim that this all that radical, even Boris Johnson agrees with the immediate £8.80 per hour for London.
What this does is to remind anyone with even a vaguely progressive outlook that Labour is scared of its own shadow (rather like their refusal to renationalise the railways, another popular policy amongst the voters), and despite hopes in some quarters that Labour was moving to the left with Ed Miliband as leader.
If you want left wing policies, and most opinion polls show there is a lot of support for them, then your best bet is to vote Green. Even if we don’t win many seats, a large Green vote will pull Labour to the left.
One of the main lessons of the Scottish referendum is that there is an appetite for breaking with the neo liberal orthodoxy that has blighted us for more than thirty years now.
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