Monday, October 11, 2010

Ed Miliband Swearing Off Class Warfare?

Labour leader reaffirms commitment to universality

When it became evident that former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown stood little chance of winning the 2010 election (well beforehand), he resorted to what some would consider to be a fairly typical Labour Party tactic:

He picked on British Conservative Party leader (and now Prime Minister) David Cameron's Eton Hall education.

Needless to say, it didn't work. David Cameron and the Tories marched onto victory in the 2010 election and partnered with the Nick Clegg-led Liberal Democratic Party to form a government.

Brown's successor, Ed Miliband has eschewed class warfare by addressing one of the core principles of the welfare state: that of universality. Under universality, social programs are expected to pay out to all citizens, even those who are much, much more well off than their fellows.

Including millionaires, who Miliband insists would continue to receive child benefits under a Labour government.

"I'm in favour of that yes, and I'm in favour of it because it's a cornerstone of our system to have universal benefits, and frankly there aren't that many millionaires in this country," Miliband explained, although he doesn't deny that the benefit is primarily meant for the poor.

"Families on £45,000 need child benefit in my view and it's a way that society recognises the costs of having kids," he continued.

And though he plans to ensure that even the wealthiest would keep such benefits under a Labour government, he isn't planning to take his foot off the taxation pedal. Rather, he plans to levy higher taxes on banks and raise additional revenues by pursuing tax evaders (although the latter will itself require a generous investment of resources into investigative agencies).

One presumes that Miliband's imagined bank tax hike will be in addition to the global bank tax accepted by Prime Minister Cameron. So even as Miliband promises not to tax the wealthy while denying them benefit, he clearly still plans to squeeze them for as much tax revenue as he can imagine; this to avoid programming cuts.

While Ed Miliband clearly wants to avoid publicly declaring war on the wealthy, he isn't shying away from calling on them to fund programs that will offer them comparatively meagre benefits.

Is it class warfare of another variety? It will be up to Britons to decide.

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