The election has been, and gone. I am aware many already regret their decision on how to vote.
The budget has been and gone – and as is now readily apparent, the richest in our community will lose just 0.6% of their income a year as a result, and the poorest 2.6% plus untold cost in other, as yet uncalculated, benefits lost. Many more will be regretting they way they voted soon.
And what is to come? At last 4 million unemployed. With that a housing slump,negative equity, a possible banking crisis, business failures as customers vanish, and a rapid decent into chaos for public services as they struggle to meet demand with demoralised, underpaid and hopelessly overstretched staff.
With that will come political chaos. The ConDem coalition will not survive these strains. Some will join the Tories – Clegg among them. But it won’t be long before the first Lib Dem MP will cross the floor of the House and more will follow. The chance of a five year term is very, very low indeed. No government has ever delivered more than two years of cuts in spending in UK history. This government plans to do it continually. It is a recipe for its own failing – and of disaster for the rest of us.
And what of Labour? I wish I had confidence in the leadership candidates. The bets – Jon Crudsas - is not standing. Of the rest I have to choose Ed Miliband. His brother has not got over New Labour – and it is dead. Balls is unelectable. Burnham, is an “also ran”. Ed Miliband has some green credentials, displayed some real ability in Copenhagen last year in a massively difficult environment, and has shown willing to move on.
That is what is needed now. That is what I plan to make the focus here now. Of course there will be current issues to highlight. And there are big campaigning issues to take forward – the need to challenge secrecy jurisdictions, the need for country-by-country reporting, the necessity of tax reform – including the need for a General Anti-avoidance Provision and a review of the domicile rules – both of which are in the plans for this government at Lib Dem request, informed in the past by my work. The need to tackle poverty remains paramount.
But there’s something more top take on now. There’s the need for a new narrative for reform. The Left needs this now. The old mantras don’t work. And there are new targets to tackle. These include renewed emphasis on the tax gap and what causes it, and how better taxes could really transform our economic and social prospects. Ain that process new issues need to be taken on: limited liability and what it means in practice is one. The administration of companies by the state another.
In all of this there is a pressing need: the need for an alternative to the dire scenario the ConDems are building. The need in short for a scenario of hope.
That’s what next. As the UK economy faces the biggest crisis it may have ever known over the coming years this is what progressive thinkers need to concentrate on – creating an alternative to the prescription of the failed economics of the neoliberal marketeers.