In a recent Observer article, and in interviews and conference speeches, Labour leader Ed Miliband has been making statements that make it seem like the Labour Party is beginning to side with protest movements and is supporting the demands of public sector unions on pensions and job cuts.
Miliband says the Occupy London protests raise deep issues that society can’ t ignore; that the Tories are in touch with the richest 1% but not the other 99; that we must tackle the “irresponsible predator capitalists”; that we can’ t allow high levels of youth unemployment to continue; that we shouldn’ t be afraid of taking on the vested interests like we did in 1945 when the NHS was set up; and that the NHS is too important to be left to the market.
Yet what does he propose as the alternative? So far we have tuition fees of £6,000 instead of £9,000, and a five point plan which all Labour Party members have been told to remember.
This is his plan to take on the predator capitalists. Judge for yourself:
1. A £2 billion tax on bank bonuses to fund 100,000 jobs for young people and build 25,000 affordable homes.
2. Bring forward long-term investment projects, like new school buildings.
3. Temporarily reverse the VAT rise — a £450 boost for families with children
4. A one year cut in VAT to 5% for home improvements and repairs to help small businesses.
5. A tax break for every small firm which takes on extra workers.
The trade union movement needs to be demanding that Labour makes much more concrete and radical commitments and not just for a future government but for now. They should include support for the public sector strikes, repeal of the anti-trade union laws, reverse privatisation and for publically funded and democratically run public services. Labour should say tax the rich and expropriate the banks.
We need a workers’ plan for the crisis.