The Story of Labor Power Told in Pawn Maps - Latest Global News

The Story of Labor Power Told in Pawn Maps

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Good morning Keir Starmer will present his six election promises today as what is proving to be a long campaign continues. (Only 257 days until the absolute latest Rishi Sunak can call the election, folks!)

Promise cards have a mythical status in much of the Labor Party, as Labor does not often win elections and had a promise card when it last came to government. Below are some thoughts on what they reveal when we look at them side by side.

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The end of a film script

In 1997, Tony Blair made five promises to the country. Three were fairly traditional Labor “retail” offers in areas Labor likes to talk about: putting more money into schools, the criminal justice system and the National Health Service. And two, which I highlighted in bold italics below, were aimed at reassuring voters about their specific fears about Labor:

  • Reduce class sizes for five-, six-, and seven-year-olds to 30 or fewer using funding from the Special Place Program.

  • Accelerate punishment for persistent young offenders by halving the time from arrest to conviction.

  • Reduce NHS waiting lists by treating 100,000 additional patients as a first step and saving £100,000,000 saved on NHS bureaucracy.

  • Get 250,000 under-25s on welfare and work by using money from a windfall levy on privatized utilities.

  • No increase in income tax rates, reduction of VAT on heating to 5 percent and the lowest possible inflation and interest rates.

And here are five of the six in Keir Starmer’s plan for Labor’s first steps – I’ve rearranged them to highlight the similarities with the 1997 list. Once again we are dealing with the familiar Labor issues of education, crime and the NHS, and I have again bolded and italicized the two promises designed to address people’s specific fears about the Labor Party.

  • Recruit 6,500 new teachers in key subjects to prepare children for life, work and the future, paid for by eliminating tax breaks for private schools.

  • Tackling anti-social behavior by paying more neighborhood cops, ending wasteful contracts, imposing tough new sentences for offenders and setting up a new network of youth centers.

  • Cut NHS waiting times with 40,000 more appointments every week, evenings and weekends, paid for by tackling tax avoidance and non-domestic loopholes.

  • Start a new border patrol squad with hundreds of new special agents and use anti-terrorism skills to dismantle the criminal boat gangs.

  • Ensure economic stability with strict spending rules so we can grow our economy and keep taxes, inflation and mortgages as low as possible.

As you can see, Labor’s positioning hasn’t changed much. Of course, there are some very important differences in what they want to inherit. In 1997, Tony Blair essentially promised to stick with something that worked and had inherited a fantastic economy from John Major. Although Starmer is trying to reassure people in 2024, he is not promising to stick with something that works and will not inherit a fantastic economy. That’s a good reason to believe he won’t be able to get re-elected once, let alone twice like Blair. Winning the next election is another matter.

The recurring challenge for Labor is that people fear that a Labor government will mean higher taxes for them personally. One of Labour’s preferred shields against this is a windfall tax, because for most voters a windfall tax is something that happens to other people. Note the reappearance of a random delivery in Starmer’s sixth promise, which is not so clearly reminiscent of the past:

  • Creation of Great British Energy, a public clean energy company, to finally reduce costs and increase energy security, funded by a windfall tax on oil and gas giants.

There are two obvious reasons for this pitch. The first is that global temperatures have continued to rise and the second, closely related, is the increasing importance of environmental issues for British voters. In 1997 the Green Party stood in 89 constituencies in England and Wales and received 61,731 votes. In 2019, Caroline Lucas achieved more than half of that in her Brighton Pavilion constituency. Being able to say something about the environment has become a basic political requirement.

Now it’s not as simple as “Labour meets all the criteria it did when it last came into government and now it will do it again”. But ultimately, the things people want from a Labor government – ​​that it will spend more on health, criminal justice and education – and what they fear will be over-taxed as a result, haven’t really changed.

My theory of British politics is not particularly sound: it says that the UK is, as Reginald Maudling put it after the 1970 election, “a conservative country that sometimes votes Labour”. Labor manages to break the usual Conservative winning pattern when it doesn’t scare people and the country believes the public desperately needs more money.

I know a few readers – including some people who work for Keir Starmer! – Do you think I’m being held back when I say that Starmer’s great achievement is that he has managed to be a Labor leader who doesn’t inspire fear and who most British voters at least see as hireable. But the Labor Party only very rarely succeeds in this! In every election I have covered and as I have traveled around the country, I have met people who are afraid of the Labor Party in general and its leader in particular. Starmer is the first leader of my career who doesn’t inspire fear. Some people really hate him, but no one is afraid of him.

So Labor has taken care of the part it can control. His biggest advantage is that Rishi Sunak seems completely uninterested in the part he can shape – the country’s belief that the UK needs greater public spending. Emergency measures had to be introduced in the criminal justice system. NHS waiting lists are at record levels. Sunak has done little to change this and has run out of time to do so. Come the next election, large swathes of public space in the UK will be dysfunctional, from the border to the GP surgery to what happens when you report a stolen bike.

A Labor leader who doesn’t scare people and stands up to a Conservative government that oversees public services in poor condition doesn’t happen very often – in fact, it’s only happened twice since the Second World War, in 1945 and 1997 In 1945 the Tory party was led by Winston Churchill, who had won a war in which Britain’s survival was at stake. In 1997, the Conservatives were led by John Major, who had the best economic record of any modern British government to date. In 2024 it will be led by Rishi Sunak. I can see no good reason to think he will do better in the election than Churchill or Major, and there are some very good reasons to think he will do worse.

FT politics editor Peter Foster is relaunching his Brexit newsletter with a new remit. The State of Britain will look at everything from skills, planning reform and devolution to post-Brexit regulation, foreign direct investment and trade. The first issue is out today and Premium FT subscribers can do so Login here.

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I saw Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes. This is easily the smartest Hollywood franchise, and while this latest installment isn’t quite as good as the best installment in the series – the one starring Gary Oldman – it’s incredibly fun. It’s that rare thing: an American blockbuster whose two-and-a-half-hour running time flew by, and which would only have improved if it had been given a little breather and extended to three hours.

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Below you will find the latest updated Financial Times UK poll, which brings together voting intention polls published by major UK pollsters. Visit the FT poll tracker page to discover our methodology and explore poll data by demographic, including age, gender, region and more.

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