living wage

Why Labour must win over Tory voters

First published on the Times Redbox

On Wednesday this week, the chancellor George Osborne used the first majority Conservative budget to implement much of the Tories’ manifesto for Britain – and no small part of the Labour one. Labour members of parliament were open-mouthed at the spectacle of a Tory chancellor shaking up ‘non dom’ status. They were in outright shock at his creation of a new minimum wage rate for the over-25s and the audacity of calling it a ‘living wage’.

Many were left simply depressed. As Labour looked on and made its protests about the detail, Tory MP after Tory MP took to the airwaves to repeat the same lines over and over. They were so effective that I can already repeat it verbatim: ‘Moving from a low pay, high tax, high welfare society to a high wage, low tax, low welfare one’. As the comment rolled on there was one statement that never got muttered by Tories of any wing, stripe or faction of the party: ‘that Osborne is just Labour-lite’. (more…)

Big society to good society

First published in Progress magazine

The power of moral and social pressure can be brought to bear to bring about better wages for the low paid. Companies can aim for an accredited ‘gold standard’ by narrowing the chasm between their highest and lowest paid employees.

During the Labour leadership campaign the candidates fell over themselves to support the idea of a living wage. Ed Miliband had his own website campaigning for it; David Miliband employed the team behind the living wage campaign to run his Movement for Change; and Ed Balls, to his immense credit, had uniquely implemented it in his department as schools secretary. Labour’s new leader was right to put the issue – along with the wage differentials between those at top and bottom of the society – front and centre of his leadership speech at conference. (more…)