So this is what everyday social democracy is then, I thought, reading the article by Jon Cruddas and Jonathan Rutherford about why we have lost this connection, we don't know "how to speak to people's insecurities...the joys, pleasures and frustrations of everyday life" relying instead on the blind faith of the markets or out dated electoral tactics of targeting an illusory Worcester Woman or Mondeo Man.

John Denham, a proponent of targeting marginal voters, particularly in the South of England argues that Labour's "promise of fairness must be rooted in our determination to create opportunities for those who want to take them, not over-protection for those who don't.".

I agree, so why protect those who inherit excessive wealth rather than those who work for it, those who risk our money on the stock exchange, those who use expensive lawyers and accountants to avoid tax using legal loopholes?

Denham continues to argue that "This is a society that has a positive bias in favour of those who earn their way. And has a bias against those who are not prepared to; or who want to take more than their fair share.".

I agree, so why not ensure agency workers get the same rights as their colleagues, why not enable people who are forced by their employers to work over 48 hours a week preventing them to enjoy quality time with their friends and families, why not introduce a living wage which enables people to live a decent life, why not regularise migrants who have been living here without a serious criminal record and cannot access healthcare, why not enable individuals in privately-run residential cares home to benefit from the Human Rights Act, why not equalise the minimum wage for everyone irrespective of age?

Or do agency workers not earn their way, do people working an unhealthy amount of time not earn their way, do people on the minimum wage take more than their fair share?

We should stop making assumptions about the electorate. The assumptions that southerners are so prosperous, so comfortable and so self-centred that all they want to be is demanding consumers whether at the supermarket or in public services. In reality, many would vote for policies like Surestart, affordable housing and a living wage. The assumptions that marginals and lower middle classes are the key to a Labour victory, when our support amongst lower middle class voters has dropped by 9 percentage points since 2001 but that it has also dropped by 8 points amongst working class voters. Maybe we need to start treating people like the citizens that they are, with their complexities and contradictions.

As Dan Elton argues, it's about "giving people a hand up, not a hand out" and as Ken Livingstone mentions, it's about "everyone sharing in that success".

For all those disappointed or disillusioned by the government, there is hope. Jon Trickett proposes:

"A progressive tax system is a start - a system that helps those on the lowest incomes while making sure those on the higher rungs pay their share, and a living wage to make sure those who go to work can support their families. If we need to fund these measures, we should be looking to the energy companies with their billions in profits per quarter, yet still squeezing people into fuel poverty. Or perhaps at the £76 billion of wasted money that will be channelled into renewing the Trident submarine system."

We recently enabled people to submit ideas to the Manifesto of the European Party of Socialists. We can also look forward to Compass' forthcoming launch of the "biggest policy and ideas creation process the country has ever seen".

On a more light hearted note, we apparently need a candidate for the next mayoral elections in London who has "the politics of Polly Toynbee and the public profile of Jeremy Clarkson". Any takers?


Anonymous said...

Answer me this - are there any unpaid volunteers working in the Compass office ever? Why should they be unpaid - why don't they have the same rights as the paid staff?

I also hope that you will follow your argument through and demand that everybody get paid the same wage. Why should some people get paid more than others?

And I do hope no Compass supporting MPs are using "interns" to get free labour. If they are I hope you'll be denouncing them here shortly.

David Floyd said...

I think it's obvious why people who are genuinely volunteers don't have the same rights as paid staff.

It's also obvious why it's not possible or desirable to pay everyone exactly the same wage (as opposed to a decent wage).

I agree, though, it's wrong for MPs and progressive NGOs to use unpaid interns.

It's fair enough for someone to get a few weeks experience of something and not be paid but when people are working for several months to a clear job description, that's a job and they should be paid for it.

In many cases the person actually doing the unpaid internship may benefit a lot in terms of job prospects but this in itself is clearly discriminatorybzb against people who are not in financial position to support themselves through a period of unpaid work.

I don't see how social democrat MPs could justify this kind of practice (although I'm sure they do).