They may be several points ahead of the Conservatives in the polls, but when it comes to making a point, Labour are still the spin-happy party of presentation over policy.
Whilst many will be surprised to learn that there is any point to the Labour party at all, one may be yet more surprised to see that they have come up with a five points in an effort to legitimize their claim to the governmental throne. Their ‘Five Point Plan for Jobs and Growth’  is as follows. Who knew it was so easy:
- A £2 billion tax on bank bonuses to fund a real jobs guarantee for all young people out of work for a year and build 25,000 more affordable homes.
- Bringing forward long-term investment projects schools, roads and transport – to get people back to work and strengthen our economy for the future
- Reversing the Tory-led Government’s damaging VAT rise now for a temporary period – a £450 boost for a couple with children – immediate help for our high streets and for struggling families and pensioners.
- A one year cut in VAT to 5% on home improvements, repairs and maintenance – to help homeowners and small businesses.
- A one year national insurance tax break for every small firm which takes on extra workers – helping small businesses to grow and create jobs.
It is a typically vague and notional effort. Are Messrs Milliband and Balls seriously going to hit the part of our economy responsible for some of the UK’s biggest revenue with a tax that will see them move overseas? Let us not forget that Labour were not just in bed with but prostituted themselves to the banks and financial industry they now claim to scorn. Apart from the taxpayer, who else do you think they went to in order to ingurgitate money for their spending projects that have saddled a generation with debt? And what is a ‘real jobs guarantee’? Governments cannot legislate or create jobs unless they are authorising public spending projects, in which case they are taking money from those they claim are already squeezed. Even if they do manage to obtain £2 billion, what are the guaranteed jobs?
‘Bringing forward long-term investment projects schools, roads and transport’ – which ones? When? Next week? In a fortnight? In a few years? Now? If this party is serious then they should offer names, they should propose dates – this is not policy, it is procrastination.
‘Reverse the Tory-led Government’s damaging VAT rise now for a temporary period – a £450 boost for a couple with children – immediate help for our high streets and for struggling families and pensioners.’ This is typically disingenuous; they will reverse the VAT rise, but only temporarily, so presumably it will be reinstated. Indeed, whilst they engage in meagre and peripheral token politics, they propose ‘cutting’ VAT for a one year cut to help with DIY. Their final proposal is also a temporary one, ‘a one year national insurance tax break for every small firm which takes on extra workers – helping small businesses to grow and create jobs.’ So after a year we know that the national insurance tax break will end, it will no doubt be reinstated at an increased rate just as the VAT on DIY will be reinstated at an increased level and, after a temporary period, the damaging VAT rise will return.
Their five point plan is the sort of disingenuous rhetoric that the ineloquent Mr Miliband and the unlettered Mr Balls have mastered during their time in the doldrums of the shadow cabinet. Conspicuous by its absence is the mention of reversing any of the government cuts the feckless Mr Milliband and Mr Balls have railed against. One might recall Mr Miliband’s rather absurd promise to make no promises, that he does not wish to speculate which cuts he will keep and which cuts he will reverse should he eventually be promoted to the office of PM. Upon reflection, his promise to make no promises is sustained by his five point plan, since it promises nothing in terms of substance or longevity and it promises nothing in terms of its aims: jobs and growth.
These are not the only five points the Labour party have mustered during their time in the shadows. Here, also, are another five billed as an exciting new plan “to help the squeezed middle in these tough times”. My remarks are in italics.
- Stop the Government’s raid on pensioners and block its £40,000 tax cut to 14,000 millionaires – this from the party who, under Gordon Brown, effected a tax raid on pension funds and snatched £17,000 from every worker’s retirement pot 
- End rail rip-offs by capping fares increases on every route – From the party that instigated inflation-busting rail fare rises switching the burden for paying for the railways away from the taxpayer towards the passenger, who are all too often from the same demographic
- Force the energy firms to cut gas and electricity bills for 4 million over-75s – How? If utilities are privatised then the government is unable to intervene, they can only exert pressure. Presumably this policy is aimed at off-setting the fact that their pensions raid will leave pensioners without the funds they need to pay for their heating.
- Stop excessive fees charged by banks and low cost airlines – Again, how? These are private enterprises, not state owned companies. The most a government can do is wag its finger and ‘tut’
- Defend working families from the raid on their tax credits by reversing the Government’s pension tax break for those earning over £150,000. – Given point one, their are simply no reasons for any thinking person to believe that the Labour party are to be trusted when it comes to pensions.
Labour does not have the requisite intellectual capacity to see the flaws in their own proposals, let alone the chasm like tears in their credibility. Their five point plans  are not just simple in terms of presentation, they are substantially simplistic. As one commentator put it, their strategy is ‘Interventionist, economically illiterate and steeped in the values of the class war’ adding ‘If you were in any doubt that New Labour is dead and buried, here’s the evidence.’ 
© thepanopticonblog, 2012
- 1. ‘ Labour’s Five Point Plan for Jobs & Growth.’ Labour.org <http://www.labour.org.uk/plan> 27 June 2012.
- 2. Ian Drury et al. ‘Brown’s £17,000 tax raid on every pension’. ThisIsMoney. 11 November 2008. < http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/pensions/article-1646128/Browns-17000-tax-raid-on-every-pension.html#ixzz1yyyD6V3o> 27 June 2012.
- 3. Ray Massey. ‘The great rail fare rip-off! Ticket prices to soar by up to 11% in the New Year’. Daily Mail. 21 December 2011. <http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2076460/UK-rail-fare-increase-Train-ticket-prices-soar-11-New-Year.html#ixzz1yz1FimmT> 27 June 2012
- 4. The Panopticon cannot be the first to have noticed the semantic resemblance to Soviet era ‘Five Year Plans’, surely?
- 5. David Hughes. ‘Ed Miliband finally kills off New Labour – with a five-point pledge card.’ The Telegraph. 28 March 2012. <http://tinyurl.com/czoqrsn>