I have enjoyed Labour Party Conference in Manchester, apart from its famous daily rain. I failed to bring an umbrella so many thanks to everybody who has kindly shared an umbrella with me. The highlight clearly was Ed Miliband’s outstanding speech. At yesterday’s Question and Answer session people around me commented how Ed from a distance (this photo shows how far back I was) looked like Tony Blair as he came on stage. Today Martin Kettle in the Guardian makes a more political comparison, and if you are pressed for time skip to his last paragraph summary.
Ed is not another Tony Blair and as his commanding comprehensive Leader’s speech demonstrated he has his own history. What they do share are the ability to win elections and the ability to unify the Labour Party. Looking back now with the divisions with Gordon Brown more known, it gives a false view of what life was like in the Labour Party when Tony Blair was Leader.
On the ground in 1997, 2001 and 2005 the Labour Party was never more unified and committed to winning so that we could introduce a minimum wage, lift children and pensioners out of poverty, ban fox hunting and make a difference to people’s lives. Never more unified than until possibly now. I sensed in Manchester the same commitment that Labour has previously had, perhaps even more so.
Labour Party members believe that if you earn £1,000,000 a year then £523,495 after tax should be more than enough to get by on. David Cameron and George Osborne supported by the Liberal Democrats believe that is not enough and that £565,790 is more appropriate. I think this is wrong and I think the overwhelming majority of British people agree that an extra £42,295 to the wealthiest people in society at a time of austerity is unfair. Plan A for most of us, Plan B if you are a millionaire!
I note also that Ed Miliband’s £40,000 figure in his speech shrewdly rounds down from £42,295 by £2,295 the money that will be taken from sure start centres, womens refuges and rape crisis centres and given to each millionaire tax payer.
Coming away from Manchester I am inspired and determined with other Labour members to change this. Bring on the plebiscite!