Thursday, 10 June 2010

The contribution conundrum

An interesting and rather 'of the moment' new blog The new politics, same as the old politics arrived on my radar, thanks to its detailed thought-provoking report on and response to John Denham's speech on Tuesday night.

I am not necessarily endorsing the Political Denhamite pun which headlines the post though!

A couple of clips:

John's big policy pitch was for a move to (a Beveridgian return to, as he saw it) a more contribution-based model of the welfare state - which I think does fit with his argument.

Some in the audience were unhappy with that, for reasons I understand - contribution-based benefits are necessarily not the most redistributive possible, since those in the greatest need, and in intergenerational deprivation, are likely to have been unable to make much of what counts as a 'contribution'. Similarly those who are recent immigrants probably won't be recorded as having made much in the way of contributions.

John's response was that the questioners' views were quite widely shared in the Labour Party, but almost wholly rejected by the voting public.


John's second point, however, was - while undoubtedly correct - more parochial and less in tune with his opening message. He argued that Labour's achievements were less tangible to those in the South, where average incomes are higher, and state employment a lower proportion of the workforce ...

The logic would be for regional minimum wages and regional assessment of tax credits, but while that might help in the South, it would surely be even more damaging than the current set-up for "South-like" constituencies in the North. So while John has a point about the political message, the policy probably needs some work.

And the blog in which a thirtysomething 'independent-minded Labour Party member and activist "enjoys" the "luxury" of opposition' looks like one to keep an eye on.

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