Never mind the quality, feel the width

Over at the unionstogether blog they are doing a ‘question to the candidates’ every week of the summer.  This week’s is on the living wage, which has become rather a surprise campaign theme.  It is worth a read.

In a campaign in which no candidate is strong on content, Ed Miliband has chosen to put the living wage “as the centre of my campaign for Labour leadership”.  Not “to put it at the centre”, you will note, but “put it as the centre”.  Massive difference in that one letter.  For Ed M, the living wage is the defining issue of his leadership bid “because it sums up both the Labour party’s values and its activism”.

Although a nice piece of policy, it would ordinarily seem like a pretty flimsy thing to be the defining essence of an entire campaign to lead the major force in left-liberal politics in the United Kingdom.

So content-lite is the contest, though, that the others are unnerved.  Each is madly vying to be just as living wage as Eddie Mil.

Ed B was “the one and only cabinet minister to introduce the living wage within my own department for all staff and contracted staff.”

David “wants Labour to return to its roots as a living, breathing movement for change precisely so it can play its part in these community actions”.

Andy’s got more living wage policies than you could imagine.  Whereas Diane’s are notably measured and balanced.

As campaign centrepieces go, Ed Mil’s living wage might not be much, but it’s at least as much, if not more, than the rest of them have got.

Their full unions together blog answers (here again) provide some tortuous amusement for the kremlinologically-minded.

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2 Responses to “Never mind the quality, feel the width”

  1. epictrader says:

    This is the first time I’ve read anything on the living wage I’m ashamed to say. Having read the statements of the 4 leadership contenders, provided by the link at the end of the above article, I’m rather more satisfied that I haven’t missed much.

    There isn’t, on my initial reading, much of substance, detail or common sense on the issue from any of the candidates. Have any of them, including Ed Miliband, who owns this baby, really thought it through at all?

    Is it sensible, for example, to put this Pandora’s box of an issue ‘as’ the heart of your campaign in the eye of the worst economic downturn since the 1930’s? In doing so, doesn’t it provide the tories with the ammunition to attack us for being reckless and irresponsible in wanting to introduce this policy at a time when public and private service employers are facing potentially huge cuts and redundancies within their organisations?  

    Also, how do any of the candidates intend to realistically implement such a – it had to be said – noble and worthy cause,  in light of the fact that after 13 years of a Labour government we still see women being paid less than men in many instances in the workplace? Equal pay for women has, frankly, left us with a disgraceful legacy and is an issue worthy of priority over this one because if we can’t sort it out we are unlikely to sort the issue of a living wage out either.

    I’m also alarmed to read that a living wage will be different depending on what part of the UK you live or have I misinterpreted this? 

    For instance, I’m fascinated to know how a public servant working in a tax office in Swindon may earn more than one doing exactly the same job in Belfast, and how that squares with European law which requires men and women engaged in work of equal value  be paid the same wage? 

    Also, would these regional variations be determined by the Assemblies of Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast, in the case of the devolved governments, or in London?  

    Happy to be told I’ve interpreted regional variations incorrectly and, in fact, would be delighted so.

    Of course I’d like to see a living wage implemented throughout the UK but Ed Miliband has raised this issue without providing a clear strategy of how to introduce it or when it will be introduced; how realistic it would be to introduce it into Labour policy at these uncertain times and how he intends to enforce it and give it powerful legal force in the workplace throughout the UK. Nice idea, Ed, but now show me how. 


  2. The living wage is flimsy? Would the anonymous author of this piece care to state his hourly wage?

    Becuase otherwise, it comes across as the sort of out of touch lunacy which has made membership of the Labour Party such an unalloyed joy these past few years…

    Fundamentally, the Labour Party is about reducing poverty and inequality. Making work pay and reducing benefit dependency by increasing earnings has to be at the centre of that. If that’s flimsy, what’s substantial?

    If the answer is immigration, or Trident, or cutting unemployment benefits just to prove that we’re tough too, or whichever right-wing bromide is unpopular with the former SPADs who seem to write all the big Labour blogs these days, then excuse me if I prefer to stick with flimsy.

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