Ed Miliband unknowingly confirmed the death of adversarial politics today.
Mr Miliband announced the Real Job Guarantee, that would offer six months’ work to 16-24 year-olds who have been out of work for a year if Labour are voted into power, in a speech to Labour Party members in Coventry.
Like the Coalition’s Youth Contract, Labour plan to pay firms to employ up to 100,000 young people.
For each job they create, Labour are willing to pay businesses £4,000. For this grand fee, employers would only have to cover 25 hours of work per week at the minimum wage – a mean £6.08 per hour (for workers aged 21 and over).
Labour would pay the firms with money raised from a bank bonus tax, a populist piece of policy that would not endure serious scrutiny.
Those Labour members who elected Mr Miliband because he appeared to be more left-wing then the only other credible prospective party leader – David Miliband – shouldn’t be surprised that ‘Red Ed’ is willing to pay the private sector pots of gold to get the unemployed back into work. Labour, like the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats, haven’t got any ideas of their own.
Since Anthony Blair moved Labour into the centre-ground and David Cameron aligned the Conservatives next to Labour, British political parties have squabbled over minor technicalities.
The Coalition’s Health Bill, for example, is apparently loathed by Labour because, if passed, the bill will allow the Coalition Government to further privatise parts of the NHS.
It was Labour, though, that advanced quasi-markets, which were intended to broaden choice in the NHS by allowing groups of GPs in a form of a Primary Care Trust to purchase healthcare from NHS trusts, and set a precedent of privatising the NHS. Education is much the same.
Labour oppose Michael Gove’s free schools, tax funded schools that are not controlled by their local authority, yet Labour introduced academy schools, tax funded schools that are not controlled by their local authority. The technicality: free schools are set up and controlled by the pupils’ parents and academy schools are pre-existing schools controlled independently by the school’s governing body.
Prime Minister’s questions, designed to hold the Prime Minister accountable for his and his government’s decisions, has become stage-managed garbage. Questions are pre-submitted, lines are tirelessly rehearsed and politicians pretend to dislike each other for 30 minutes. Why does this matter? Surely it’s better if the politicians get along? Well, no, it’s not.
By opposing the government, Her Majesty’s Opposition play an important role in our democracy by countering the executive’s power. But because our political parties adopt the same Liberal stance on nearly every issue, we essentially live in a one-party-state where the opposition doesn’t do its job.
Both Labour and the Conservatives, for instance, take a liberal-interventionist on foreign affairs. That is to say that there is a consensus in the House of Commons that we should override state sovereignty and intervene in order to pursue humanitarian objectives. If only there was a credible opposition in 2003 who saw liberal-interventionism as nonsense, we might have avoided the Iraq catastrophe.
So, back to Mr Miliband’s speech, the most recent figures show that youth unemployment has now risen to 1,042,000, and all our political parties have similar solutions to the problem – pay the private sector to solve it.
Next time someone boasts about our ‘great democracy’, ask them this: Democracy? What Democracy?