Five demands the left can unite around?

March 4th, 2012

Some simple, radical demands are needed to mobilise people towards a geniune left alternative says James Bloodworth – (But first my comments:

  • only total transparency helps, public ownership could make this a bit easier, but nothing is guaranteed.
  • because quickly we have to accept some ‘not freedom’ situations, means, the real question is:
  • how do we accept freedom with real, efficient control by all, not only by representatives who again can be bought …
  • … for me the only important choice to be made … by a public consultation) …

Published on red pepper.org.uk, March 1, 2012.   

If I had to choose five demands that would work right now, here’s what I would go for:

1. Higher taxes for the rich:

  • While combating tax evasion and introducing ‘Robin Hood’ taxes are things we should welcome, what about the white elephant in the room: making the rich pay more tax? We should undoubtedly support attempts to make the rich pay what they already owe; but I want to close the gap between the rich and poor, not least because gross inequality leads to a dysfunctional society.

2. The public release of official records showing the annual income of every British taxpayer who earns over £100,000 a year

  1. As well as safeguarding transparency, this would force employers to justify their exorbitant wage packets to their employees. The Chief Executive of Tesco was paid £5 million in 2005. In the same year the average Tesco employee was paid £12,713. Is it credible to assert that the Chief Executive was 430 times more industrious and productive than the average Tesco employee? No, it isn’t.

3. The right to recall MPs who break their manifesto pledges: … //

… 4. The return of the utilities to public ownership:

  • The market engenders freedom, so it is said, and nowhere is this more apparent than the utilities, where consumers are ‘free’ to pay as much as companies require them to for services they cannot do without. The alternative (there is always an alternative, because champions of the market despise coercion) is the freedom to go and live in a cardboard box in the woods.
  • People are angry about the price of electricity, gas and train fares, but the left does not at present make the connection in the public mind between huge price rises and the collections of sports cars the bosses of the utilities have in their driveways. Let’s start to change that.

5. Tackle the exploitative buy-to-let housing market:

  • Again this relates to a modern distortion of the notion of freedom. We all need somewhere to live, but today the freedom to make a large wad of cash out of this need trumps the need itself. As a first step, adequate social housing should be demanded with controlled and sensible rents that undercut the private sector. This in itself would bring down the average cost of rent substantially.
  • Most people below the age of about 30 will never own property, let alone a ‘portfolio’ to exploit. It’s about time we put these people first, rather than a collection of parasitic accumulators masquerading as respectable businesspeople.

What do you think? Is this the right five demands to focus on? If not, what would you prioritise? Let me know in the comments below.

(full text).

Links:

A great night for Detroit at the Charles H. Wright Museum, on the Knight Blog of the John S. & James L. Knight Foundation, by Rishi Jaitly, March 2, 2012: Partners and supporters of the BME Challenge gathered Wednesday night to celebrate the 10 winners of the BME Detroit Leadership Award, honoring exemplary black men who step up to lead and engage others in our community;

The Silent Humanitarian Crises Beyond East Africa, on the Blog of Mammonmessiah, by Adam Parsons and Rajesh Makwana, July 22, 2011: The international response to the East African crisis is far short of urgent needs, yet the extreme deprivation being reported is only the tip of the iceberg;

Books on Mammonmessiah.

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