Class war? No thanks

by Amanda Ramsay

The Labour Party should be seen as heroes not villains when it comes to the economy. Don’t let anyone tell you any differently. Having Labour leaders that understood economics with Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling at the helm, meant the global financial crisis of 2008 did not turn into a depression as might otherwise have happened.

Can you imagine U-turn Dave, multi-million pound wallpaper trust fund beneficiary George Osborne or calamity Clegg running the show then?

“We don’t live in isolation, as the crash of 2008-09 illustrates as do the riots of last year. These events highlight our mutual dependence,” Chuka Umunna, shadow business, innovation and skills secretary told a group of Labour supporters this week.

“The key is active government strategy, to create more productive capitalism, working in partnership with business. It’s incredibly important to get the policy framework right. The progressive offer should be a common sense approach and then people will vote for us.

“Not in terms of being left or right, but you’re either right or you’re wrong. Giving a tax break to 14,000 millionaires, that’s just wrong.”

In the wake of a global banking-led crisis, the backlash against wealth and privilege aimed at bonus-rich bankers and the UK’s cabinet of millionaires, is understandable.

Class war has always been a factor in British politics, but as a narrative is not the canvass with which to paint our policies to win us government again. The politics of fairness and efficiency is where Labour will win.

With such a huge middle class in this country, traditional working class and also large non-working class on benefits or with caring responsibilities or disabilities, the politics of class is a minefield in its complexity and as divisive as the politics of elitism or envy.

Who gets up in the morning thinking about class?

The issues that matter most to voters are anti-social behaviour, the economy and jobs. The issues that come up time and time again on the doorstep in Bristol South, even in areas that are seemingly peaceful and quiet residential areas. Our policies need to clearly demonstrate that our solutions are interlinked.

Labour’s five point plan for jobs addresses the concerns of the jobless and small businesses alike, offering a one year national insurance tax break for every small firm to take on extra workers.

We need to go further and make starting a business part of the school curriculum and part of the offering discussed at job centres. What’s the point of just careers advice if the jobs aren’t out there?

It must be better to give an out of work individual the chance to set-up on their own, to match their Job Seekers Allowance and enable them to still claim housing benefit so they can set-up a business.

Umunna acknowledges: “The economic situation makes people feel increasingly insecure. The progressive programme should be more attractive than being left on your own, as is Tory thinking.”

Partnerships to assist self-employment could be formed with socially responsible companies, like Microsoft who run Britain Works and Young Britain Works, offering invaluable schemes to unemployed people to have laptop loans and access packages for internet connectivity for example.

With high unemployment and an estimated 85% of jobs not even being advertised, self-employment needs to be a larger part of the modern mind-set and political dialogue for those facing joblessness.

Another strand of Labour’s five point jobs plan is a one year cut in VAT on home improvements, repairs and maintenance, to help homeowners and small businesses alike. In the 30’s with a global depression, my grandfather had to move to England from Ireland in search of work and ended up starting a building and decorating company with his brothers-in-law in Fulham.

This is the attitude the country needs now, not work programmes that just offer unpaid work for people who instead could be starting their own business with the right encouragement and advice.

One friend started his own company via Ovenclean and now makes a very comfortable living, even in this time of economic crunch.

“The organisation will lend money to a good franchise. The areas I cover have not really been affected with the recession, though they are fairly affluent and I make a good business from this, especially before Christmas when bookings go through the roof.”

No one likes cleaning the oven, hence his success, but who likes being wage-less, living in poverty or a life of crime and punishment? With potential earnings of up to hundreds of pounds a week, it’s got to be better to have a disposable income and be one’s own boss at the same time.

There is a real wealth of entrepreneurial talent in this country. Labour’s task is to empower and enable it rather than being caricatured as a party that simply clings to its class war comfort blanket.

Amanda Ramsay is a former Labour councillor and cabinet member


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28 Responses to “Class war? No thanks”

  1. Nick says:

    The Labour Party should be seen as heroes not villains when it comes to the economy.

    ===========

    7,000 bn of debt in total

    Just one example of the hidden debt.

    1,135 bn to a small number of civil servants. all unfunded. All PFI’ed off the books to hide the true figures by Gordon Brown and Tony Blair.

    Heros?

    Yep, they are so busy dodging taxes with their fake charities.

    Scum would be more apt than heros.

    The result is that the people who need work can’t get it.

    Future generations are screwed. That level of debt can’t be paid.

    So where is the morals in saying children in the third world should have their debts forgiven, but for children in the UK, we’re going to make them slave to pay off the debts run up by Brown and co.

  2. madasafish says:

    I love the start of this article:

    The Labour Party should be seen as heroes not villains when it comes to the economy. Don’t let anyone tell you any differently. Having Labour leaders that understood economics with Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling at the helm,…

    Next you are going to tell me it’s all the Tories fault and of course we can spend lots of money on your pet projects.

    Whilst Ed Balls is Shadow Chancellor and article like this are written (I assume seriously) then Labour lacks any serious economic credibility.

  3. Simon Christopher-Chambers says:

    Maybe not a class war in the traditional sense but Labour must think big & launch an all out attack on elitism & the established order.

    Starting with education we should look to the Finnish model & aim for a complete sea change in the culture of educational elitism & selection.

    On the economy we should have policies that will truly redistribute wealth in our country.

    On crime we should make our minds up once & for all. Are we for punishment or rehabilitation & commit to policies that reflect.

    We need to think big & be big.

  4. Tom Miller says:

    The problem is that it’s not Labour whose comfort blanket is class war.

    What you’re advocating has a place with Swedish social democracy.

    That’s just not the way that the Tories and their press allies see it.

    Class war is first levelled *against* Labour’s support (even the middle class elements of it). The trick is in response, and you can call that what you like.

  5. Clint Spencer says:

    Lets dissect this drivel piece by piece.

    “The Labour Party should be seen as heroes not villains when it comes to the economy.”
    Less than 30% trust Labour on the economy. The 30% who trust them are entirely Labour core supporters and mostly people who don’t know what an economy is.

    “Don’t let anyone tell you any differently. Having Labour leaders that understood economics with Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling at the helm, meant the global financial crisis of 2008 did not turn into a depression as might otherwise have happened.”
    Probably but what was the legacy of that action and all the other economic policy?

    “We don’t live in isolation, as the crash of 2008-09 illustrates as do the riots of last year. These events highlight our mutual dependence,” Chuka Umunna, shadow business, innovation and skills secretary told a group of Labour supporters this week.
    “The key is active government strategy, to create more productive capitalism, working in partnership with business. It’s incredibly important to get the policy framework right. The progressive offer should be a common sense approach and then people will vote for us.
    The above two paragraphs are rhetoric for the BS hungry tribalists, it doesn’t actually mean anything. Tripe, drivel, words, call it what you will.

    “Not in terms of being left or right, but you’re either right or you’re wrong. Giving a tax break to 14,000 millionaires, that’s just wrong.”
    People in the real world know its not about the % but the tax take. For the tribal it’s the % and its never enough.

    “In the wake of a global banking-led crisis, the backlash against wealth and privilege aimed at bonus-rich bankers and the UK’s cabinet of millionaires, is understandable.”
    Class war BS. This statement doesn’t address the issues we have, its just name calling crap.

    “Class war has always been a factor in British politics, but as a narrative is not the canvass with which to paint our policies to win us government again. The politics of fairness and efficiency is where Labour will win.”
    If it’s the narrative and not the canvas, then your class war and name calling is hypocritical. I would go on to say your passionate verbosity isn’t backed up with and understanding of whats going on.

    “Who gets up in the morning thinking about class?”
    It’s the constant drivel we get from the tribal wing and such a drag.
    “The issues that come up time and time again on the doorstep in Bristol South, even in areas that are seemingly peaceful and quiet residential areas. Our policies need to clearly demonstrate that our solutions are interlinked.”
    ….and under Ed we are polling through the floor on this area.

    “Labour’s five point plan for jobs addresses the concerns of the jobless and small businesses alike, offering a one year national insurance tax break for every small firm to take on extra workers.”
    Does it crap, it’s a load of marketing BS and that’s why it’s only taken seriously by the Ed’s. If was a serious piece of work it would be presented as a fully costed policy. Andrew Neil destroyed Balls on this. The only future for the Labour party is to divorce you lot and your lefty friends. Ed Miliband is steering the ship to oblivion and every decision he makes is useless.

    If David and Darling were running the show, we’d be polling 60% on everything.

    You should really give this writing malarkey up.

  6. RichardT says:

    “Having Labour leaders that understood economics with Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling at the helm, meant the global financial crisis of 2008 did not turn into a depression as might otherwise have happened.”

    This is the kind of incisive, rigorous analysis that keeps me coming back to L-U.

  7. So it’s ‘no’ to class war, and yet you write:

    “multi-million pound wallpaper trust fund beneficiary George Osborne”

    Is that you genuinely reject ‘class war’ sentiment, or just feel the elecorate are turned off by the anti-aspirational rhetoric of ‘class war’ so let’s brush it under the carpet?

  8. Clint Spencer says:

    RichardT,

    This is a deep as the spoonfed repeaters of the spin can go. The more we ridicule the ir lot the faster we get change.

  9. Clint Spencer says:

    Vir Cantium,

    No fan of Osborne as he is crap however we must have our act in order. The best chancellor we ever had was Alistair Darling.

    Hypocrisy is the sole realm of the tribalist.

  10. Les Abbey says:

    The politics of fairness and efficiency is where Labour will win.

    Let’s look a little closer at ‘fairness’ Amanda. Surely one of the measures of fairness is equality, much as New Labour doesn’t like the word. During it’s time in government Labour gave us an even more unequal society, admittedly carrying on the in the direction that Thatcher had started.

    There is a measure of this inequality called the Gini Coefficient. Even if you feel using the term class warfare is unhelpful on the doorstep, you should at least look at your attitude to equality to different yourself from the Tory class warriors.

  11. Robert says:

    Lucky then that Brown did not allow the bankers to do more relaxing the rules, Brown did nothing wrong, then why apologies.

    10 tax fiasco, to being so out of touch to telling us what he thought of real labour activist, memory problems on this site

  12. Les Abbey says:

    Should of course be ‘differentiate’ rather than ‘different’.

  13. Franklin Percival says:

    Maybe we should concentrate less on growth, starting with that of the h.s.s. population of this planet. We can eat ourselves out of house and home, obviously, but do we need so to do?

  14. swatantra says:

    I was out door knocking today in a ‘safe’ Lib Dem area. if you mentioned ‘class war’ on the doorstep you’d get the door shut in your face without a how to do. If you mentioned Nick betraying Lib Dems and selling out to the Tories then you might have a decent conversation, as I did, and even persuade them to vote Labour as a protest vote, and send a message to their high command.
    The fact is the ‘class war’is dead, and buried; we should be playing to peoples better and higher instincts; everybody is aspirational these days and wants to move on.
    And any mention of a ‘war’ makes me want to reach for my gun, metaphorically speaking. Its old hat.
    If D Milliband were leading we’ed be in an even bigger hole. But Alaister is ok, a safe pair of hands. And whatever you may say to the contrary, Gordon did ‘save the Banks and the World’. He along with our other Party Political leaders may have led us into that hole ….. but thats another story.

  15. Red Rag says:

    Class war or no class war, just a reminder of who are the people we are fighting for and who are being attacked by the coalition….http://redrag1.blogspot.co.uk/2012/04/red-rag-you-must-be-so-proud-mr-cameron.html

  16. james says:

    If you mentioned Nick betraying Lib Dems and selling out to the Tories then you might have a decent conversation, as I did, and even persuade them to vote Labour as a protest vote,

    So basically Labour’s becoming a protest vote like the old-style Lib Dems – what about actually, you know, coming up with costed alternatives. Oh, I know, too difficult.

  17. Anon E Mouse says:

    To mention the name Gordon Brown with understanding economics shows how far out of touch with planet earth this author actually is….

  18. Clint Spencer says:

    Anon E Mouse,

    You have to believe that, without it why would you follow the tribal rosette?

    Blinkers on!

  19. Chris M says:

    “Nick says:
    April 13, 2012 at 4:07 pm

    1,135 bn to a small number of civil servants. all unfunded. All PFI’ed off the books to hide the true figures by Gordon Brown and Tony Blair.
    ********************************************************

    Yeah, really. That dreadful PFI which Osborne’s doing as well.

  20. Chris M says:

    “Whilst Ed Balls is Shadow Chancellor and article like this are written (I assume seriously) then Labour lacks any serious economic credibility.”

    Basically everyone in the mainstream fell for the City’s spin. Can you tell me why Balls is less credible than Osborne? Here’s his credibility:

    http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/george-osborne-wanted-britain-to-copy-264036

    And here:

    http://conservativehome.blogs.com/torydiary/2008/02/northern-rock-t.html

    “This is the day when Labour’s reputation for economic competence died. Gordon Brown has dithered his way to the disaster of nationalisation. Now the taxpayer will bear the full risk of lending £100 billion of mortgages in an uncertain housing market. We will not back nationalisation. We will not help Gordon Brown take this country back to the 1970s.”

  21. Another anon says:

    NO WAR BUT THE CLASS WAR!!!

  22. Anon E Mouse says:

    Clint Spencer – :-}

  23. PenguinPants says:

    Chris,

    Because the Tories are doing something bad, which Labour also did bad, then maybe it’s not so bad Labour did it?

    Here’s a thought, why don’t Labour actually do something good?

    As for the class war in this article. All I hear about are the “Tory Bankers”, er, aren’t these the bankers that were bailed out by the UK Taxpayer with the nod of the Labour Party who were in power?

    Class war is all Labour have left and all they can offer while in opposition. The problem is, like alot of things, there is a large portion of people in the middle who are neither millionaires or union militants, we just get on with out lives the best we can. And right now, Labour are not the party for governance because a) they’re too busy blaming someone else for their faillures, and b) they still have not given a single credible alternative other than saying they’ll spend more money than the Tories.

    Here’s an idea: look at all the factors in the UK economic landscape, and come up with a plan to make it grow. Hiring another 500000 public sector workers for a laugh and a salary doesn’t count.

  24. BenM says:

    There is a weird belief about that Tories understand economics.

    No they do not.

    The economic record of the Tories since World War II is rubbish.

    Until 2008, all recessions and record unemployment rates post war occurred under their watch.

    Since Thatcher’s baleful tenure investment in this country has shrivelled and reliance on financial engineering and huge asset bubbles to drive consumption has replaced steady long term economic management.

    Labour representatives need to keep repeating the message that the Tories are appalling managers of the British economy.

  25. Ian Stewart says:

    “Who gets up in the morning thinking of class?”
    Hmm, I am currently looking for work, and am engaged to a high level P.A. I think about it a lot actually.
    As do many in Britain today. Maybe not in the old “Road to Wigan Pier” way, but we do think about it. Rather than look to genius administrators, how about trying to harness the anger outside of the little political village that runs this place?
    Of course, if you can make it sound dull and common sense, then so much the better…

  26. The Labour Party should be seen as traitors and villains when it comes to the economy. Don’t let anyone tell you any differently.
    “The key is active government strategy, to create more working in partnership with business not government footing the bill and business taking the profit as with new labour. It’s incredibly important to get the policy framework right. The progressive offer should be a common sense approach and then people will vote for you.
    “No tax break to 14,000 millionaires, that’s just wrong but new labour greased there palms by the back door.”
    The banking-led crisis, run by the wealthy and privilege aimed at bonus-rich bankers and the UK’s cabinet of millionaires.
    Class war has always been a factor in British politics, and as a narrative is the canvass with which to paint your policies to win a government again. The politics of fairness and efficiency is where new Labour should have been but never has been.
    With such a huge amount of people thinking there middle class in this country and not working class and also large non-working class on benefits or with caring responsibilities or disabilities, the politics of class is a minefield in its complexity and is divisive

  27. You have to treat workers as equal members of society. You have to give them the self–esteem which they can only have if they acquire responsibility. Then you will be able to ask the trade unions to behave . Then they will accept some guidance from outsiders—from the government or the party or whatever it is. But as long as you maintain the damned class-ridden society of ours we will never get out of your mess

  28. PM makes this sound very much like a class war by describing Labour MPs as “rabble” today in House of Commons, so I take this back. 9 May 2012

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