Ed Miliband takes his position as Leader of the Opposition far too literally. In such a role you are not just meant to oppose everything that the incumbent government does, you have to come up with alternatives - otherwise why would anyone vote for you if they have no idea what you stand for? It has taken a while but Ed has finally come up with Labour's Five Priorities. Let's have a look at them:
• A Fair Deal on tax. Alongside implementing Labour’s five point plan for jobs and growth, Labour’s Finance Bill would reverse tax cuts for people earning over £150,000 a year. We would use that money to help pensioners on fixed incomes hit by the “granny tax” and we would restore cuts in tax credits which have hit families.
And he's failed at the first hurdle by proving my initial point.
• A Fair Deal on Energy. Labour’s Energy Bill would break up the dominance of the Big Six power companies and require them by law to offer 4 million elderly people the lowest rate available.
Sounds great in principle but then again elderly doesn't necessarily equal poor. In fact the richest people I know are old. Of course, this plan won't help any one else who is poor, who will undoubtedly see an increase in their energy bills to pay for this.
• A Fair Deal on Transport. Labour’s Transport Bill would stop train operators raising fares by more than one per cent above inflation, stop them exploiting commuters with unadvertised rates and give local authorities more control over bus firms.
Fair enough, the latter is rather topical around my way.
• A Fair Deal for Consumers. Labour’s Consumer Bill would give new powers to the Financial Conduct Authority and Competition and Markets Authority to stop rip-off surcharges by banks, low-cost airlines and pension firms.
Banks will start charging for regular banking facilities, airlines will just up the basic cost of a ticket making any surcharge impossible to avoid, and pension firms will just add the fees into the unit price of the funds bought and sold.
• A Fair Deal on Jobs. Labour’s Jobs Bill would ensure some of the money raised from a tax on bank bonuses is used to provide real jobs, with real wages and responsibilities, to more than 100,000 young people aged 18 – 24.
Oh dear. "Real" jobs and "real" wages. That's Labour speak for "we're going to expand the bloated public sector even further". According to the Grand Plan, the tax is supposed to raise £2B and will also be used to build 25,000 affordable homes. However, pay the 100,000 at the minimum wage of £6.08 for a 35 hour week gives £11k per annum. There are a whole host of other costs when employing someone including pension contributions, training, and recruiting amongst other things. Call the total cost of this and wages to be a conservative £15k. That's £1.5B which leaves £0.5B for the 25,000 houses which works out at £20k per home - land, materials, and building costs - so unless he's building them in Bulgaria, he's blatantly talking bollocks.