From: Martin Hemingway, Foxhill Court, Leeds.
LABOUR leader Sir Keir Starmer recently gave a speech ‘‘A New Chapter for Britain’’.
The speech refers to a range of very real concerns about Universal Credit, child poverty, life expectancy, youth unemployment, the pressures on the NHS and schools, and the state of the high street.
It references the period of post war reconstruction, the creation of the NHS, the building of millions of homes fit for heroes (council housing for rent is a detail left out). It even references the Beveridge Report that laid out the road map for that reconstruction.
It offers generalities to deal with the concerns and supports ‘‘the dream of home ownership’’.
It promises a British Recovery Bond to give those who have accumulated money during the pandemic a safe and rewarding investment, that will also contribute to infrastructure development.
Fine, but government borrowing rates are currently low anyway. Starmer claims this as ‘‘bold and innovative’’, the same may have been said about the Consols introduced in 1751 to help finance government spending.
A Starmer government would, he says, work with trade unions and businesses. Nothing more is said about the unions or the workers they represent, but there is the promise of “a new partnership with British businesses as the only way” to secure prosperity.
A “new partnership with business” is Starmer says his “vision”, and that is pretty well it.
This is not a party that would be recognised by the old Labour left of Bevan, or the old Labour tight of Bevin, or even by the Liberal Party of Beveridge, the architect of the Welfare State. It is not even the Labour party of Blair that I left 18 years ago.
While we retain the absurdity of a ‘‘first past the post’’ electoral system, a strong, imaginative, crusading Opposition is essential. Perhaps the vision on the left has to be looked for with the Green Party.
From: Jas Olak, Vice Chair, Leeds for Europe, Riverside Way, Leeds.
AT least Brexit negotiator Lord Frost can be questioned on the deal now he’s got a Cabinet post and seat in the House of Lords, says Andrew Mercer (The Yorkshire Post, March 2).
Hopefully, Labour peers will prove more effective than the party’s MPs and leader Sir Keir Starmer have so far at holding Boris Johnson and ministers to account for disastrous Brexit outcomes.