Posts Tagged ‘predistribution’

On welfare, Cameron has a point – but we have to hold him to it

25/06/2015, 10:48:01 PM

by David Ward

Napoleon once told Le Comte de Molé the value of being both a fox and a lion, “the whole secret of government lies in knowing when to be one or the other”. For Labour on the prime minister’s speech on welfare and “opportunity” on 22 June, the tempting response will be to roar at injustice as Andy Burnham indicated he would do in the recent Newsnight debate. But there are reasons to be wary of that approach.

We saw in the last parliament how effective Tory attacks on perceived injustices on those who work to provide a living for others can be. No matter how much howling is heard from the left about Benefits Street or reductions in the benefit cap it all falls straight into Osborne’s electoral trap.

Instead we can take a far more interesting approach. To say Cameron has a point on welfare and hold him to account for it.

The prime minister suggests there is a problem with government “topping up low pay…We need to move from a low wage, high tax, high welfare society to a higher wage, lower tax, lower welfare society.” And of course, he’s right. It’s what Ed Miliband used to call predistribution. For some reason it didn’t catch on.


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3 years on: Ed Miliband has created Blue Nun Labour

30/05/2013, 06:20:09 PM

It’s 3 years since Uncut started so, in a series of pieces, we’re taking stock of what has changed for Labour since 2010. Mark Stockwell gives the other side’s view of Labour’s progress

You could see it on Ed Miliband’s face, that far-off day in September 2010 when he snatched the party leadership from under his big brother’s nose. David had led him in every round of the ballot, eclipsed him over every fence, but at the end, somehow, Ed had snuck through on the rails and won by a short head. And the new leader of the opposition was as surprised as anyone. In truth, he wasn’t ready for the responsibility that had been thrust upon him. Over the last three years, it’s shown.

Granted, he didn’t start from the most auspicious position. For all that the Conservatives had failed to win a majority, this only served to disguise the scale of the defeat Labour had suffered at the hands of the British electorate. When what Labour needed was to face up to the manifold reasons for that defeat, too many have sought comfort in the travails of the coalition and revelled in the difficulties of the despised Liberal Democrats.

It fell to Miliband to drag his party away from this comfort zone. He has failed. In truth, he hasn’t even tried. Yes, senior Labour figures have queued up to utter insincere pieties about how the leadership had been wrong in the past to dismiss the concerns of the party’s supporters about immigration. But the party as a whole continues to give the impression it doesn’t think it got much wrong in office – on the domestic front, at least.

It is no use Labour going into the 2015 election telling voters it was a mistake to kick them out last time. Asked to review their verdict (and you may be sure Conservative strategists will happily play along with such an approach), the good people of Britain will apply a swift coat of polish to their boots and find their own way to make sure Labour “reconnects with the voters.”

Miliband’s lack of preparedness has manifested itself in his desperate casting around for a distinctive, coherent agenda. It is rather as if, like the second year politics undergraduate he so closely resembles, finding himself unexpectedly home alone one evening, he has set himself the task of coming up with a tasty supper using only the ingredients he can find already in the kitchen.

Blue Labour? Hmmm, yes I remember picking that up on the way home after the leadership election. Maybe I’d had one or two glasses of wine. Anyway, it sounds interesting, in it goes.

But hang on, it’s missing something. I know, there’s that half-empty packet of incomes policy that’s been hanging around at the back of the cupboard since, ooh, about 1979. If I stick a big label on it saying “predistribution”, maybe I can kid myself it’s not past its sell-by date.


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Predistribution is just a meaningless word in place of actual policy

07/09/2012, 07:00:01 AM

by Atul Hatwal

There’s a great scene in I’m Alan Partridge where our hero has just been told by his BBC boss that he hasn’t got a second series. Alan frantically scrambles to come up with something, anything else that might be commissioned.

“Arm-wrestling with Chas and Dave”; “knowing  M.E. knowing you” and “inner city sumo” are just some of the suggestions he rattles off.


“A Partridge amongst the pigeons?”

The boss’s interest is piqued. “What’s that?” he asks.

Alan blurts out the truth, “it’s just a title.”

Armando Iannucci is a political doyenne because of the Thick Of It, but often politics more closely resembles his work with the redoubtable Alan.

What “a Partridge amongst the pigeons” is to primetime viewing, predistribution is to economic policy.

In case you missed it, predistribution is the new silver bullet. It’s how Labour can square the circle of a limited government spending while still bearing down on inequality.

Rather than rely on tax-payer backed redistribution, predistribution seems to entail regulating the market so outcomes are more equal and redistribution isn’t needed. At least, not on same scale as in the past.

The most frequently cited example is tax credits: if wages were higher we wouldn’t need to spend state funds on tax credits.

As an idea, predistribution has been floating around for a while, but was anointed by Ed Miliband this week, first in his interview with the New Statesman and then at the Policy Network economic wonkathon yesterday (rather snappily entitled  “the quest for growth: ideas for a new political economy and a more responsible capitalism,” though judging by the substantive output, finding Spock might have been a more attainable quest).

Already, think tankers and policy pointy heads are feverishly bashing out articles on what it means and how this is the big idea Labour has been waiting for.

Let me help. Sit back from the keyboard and take a deep breath.

It means nothing.

It’s just a title, and, in practical political terms, there’s nothing behind it.

In his speech yesterday, Ed Miliband tried to sketch out how his vision of predistribution would remove the need for redistribution spending:

“Our aim must be to transform our economy so it is a much higher skill, higher wage economy.”

Hmm. That sounds familiar. Where have we heard those words before?


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