AS THE ideological chasms within the Labour Party become ever more apparent, adherents of so-called "Old Labour" - and the millions beyond their ranks who believe in a generally more radical redistribution of wealth - are derided by many commentators for a supposedly naive belief in "tax-and-spend" economics. It is time that this tautological garbage was confined to the linguistic dustbin. All governments tax and spend; it is simply a question of priorities, of who is taxed and to what purpose.

The neo-Thatcherite free-market economics of New Labour dictate that students are taxed (through tuition fees and the abolition of the maintenance grant), while the wealthy are assured that they will see no rise in their income tax for the lifetime of this parliament.

Meanwhile tax revenue is spent on the tragedy of the bombing of Iraq and the farce of the Millennium Dome, while the NHS bed shortage is blamed on a flu epidemic and the audacity of older people who choose to live longer lives without due consideration for the Treasury.