James Daley: Sorry, Gordon, still not good enough
Saturday 17 May 2008
Seven years ago, when I voted Labour for the first time, I truly believed that Gordon Brown and Tony Blair stood for the same things I did. The UK economy was being managed to reap the benefits of the thriving capitalist society that I lived in, while the fruits of this prosperity were being redistributed to help the poorest members of our communities out of poverty and back on to their feet. That was the theory, anyway.
During the early years of New Labour, Brown was portrayed as the iron socialist Chancellor, while Blair was the more progressive centrist Prime Minister. And when Blair finally left office last summer, my biggest fear was that the Labour Party would take a dangerous lurch to the left, as Brown finally lost his counterbalance.
What really happened, however, has been truly extraordinary – Brown lurched off to the right. Although it's now been more than a month since the rebellion against the scrapping of the 10p rate of income tax began to gather pace, its ramifications are still being felt, both in the Labour Party and in people's pockets. And, as a Labour supporter, I'm still aghast that any Labour Chancellor – let alone one who professes to come from a socialist background – could do what Brown and his policy wonks did.
To increase the tax bills of five million of Britain's poorest citizens was bad enough. But to put the money into the pockets of the middle classes was truly perverse – a complete reversal of the values that I believed New Labour stood for.
Before Alistair Darling announced his package of measures to undo this catastrophic piece of policy this week, most single people earning between about £5,500 and £12,000 a year had seen their tax bills increase (some had even doubled) between March and April. Meanwhile, those living comfortably on about £30,000 had found themselves paying about £25 less in tax each month.
When the Government finally caved in to pressure to reverse these changes, I breathed a sigh of relief. While it was embarrassing, how could Brown ever win back the trust of Labour's core voters if he refused to back down on a policy that took from the poor and gave to the rich?
But what came in its place this week was not good enough. By simply raising the minimum threshold at which everyone in the country pays tax, the Government did indeed succeed in helping some of those it had hurt. But it still left about one million of its poorest citizens paying more tax than they had done in March, while putting yet another £120 a year into the pockets of the middle classes.
This was hardly the Robin Hood manoeuvre we'd all been hoping for – the Sheriff of Nottingham's mark was still all over it.
While Darling also tacked on a bunch of additional measures to try to buy a few extra votes in the forthcoming Crewe and Nantwich by-election, many of these played to the middle classes as well. More help for first-time buyers, for example, might sound like a cuddly old Labour policy, but house prices are now so inflated that even with Government help, you need to be earning a good salary to think about getting your foot on the property ladder. Enhancing protection for depositors in banks – another new policy – is also hardly going to help those with no savings.
Although I'm sad to say it, I'm not sure I would have been able to vote for the party I love if I had the chance to do so in Crewe on Thursday. Brown has got much more work to do if he's going to convince me that they have not abandoned the principles I voted for.
Independent Partners; request a free guide on NISAs from Hargreaves Lansdown
- 1 iOS 8 apps and features: eight iPhone settings you need to look at after you install the update
- 2 Kim Kardashian 'nude photos' leaked on 4chan weeks after Jennifer Lawrence scandal
- 3 'F*ck it, I quit': TV reporter Charlo Greene quits live on air in spectacular fashion
- 4 Scotland could still declare independence – even without referendum, says Alex Salmond
- 5 Hitler’s former food taster reveals the horrors of the Wolf’s Lair
Scotland could still declare independence – even without referendum, says Alex Salmond
Scottish referendum results: Cross-party consensus collapses amid Tory-Labour spat on the 'English question'
Hilary Mantel 'should be investigated by police' over Margaret Thatcher assassination story, says Lord Bell
Scottish independence: David Cameron is becoming the 'George Bush of Britain'
Plebgate MP Andrew Mitchell called officer a 'little s**t', claim court documents 'exposing ex-Chief Whip's 'record of abusing police'
Archbishop of Canterbury admits doubts about existence of God
iJobs Money & Business
£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 ...
£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40000: SThree: As a Recruitment Consultant, y...
£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000: SThree: SThree Group have been well e...
Up to £80000: Saxton Leigh: My client, a large commodities broker, is looking ...
Day In a Page
A three-bedroom, 15th-century cottage with original features in the picturesque village of Sissinghurst
A six-bedroom terraced house with large south-facing roof terrace, cinema room and wine cellar
A new seven-bedroom home built in Queen Anne-style with swimming pool and parkland views in Mortimer
A listed, four-bedroom farmhouse in the rural hamlet of Rushall with detached barn, four acres of gardens and paddocks
A first-floor flat with two bedrooms, a spacious reception room and communal grounds in a leafy part of London
A three-bedroom flat with a spacious rootop terrace and balcony, accessed from a private gated courtyard
A Grade II-listed pile with six bedrooms, stables and 39 acres of grounds in Standlake
A two-bedroom flat with boutique hotel-style interiors, close to the foodie haunt of West End Lane
A two-bedroom flat in a beautiful old vicarage, with many original features, close to the city centre
A three-bedroom 16th-century home with an aga kitchen, private gardens and heated outdoor pool, in Hadleigh
A three-bedrom home in sought-after Queen's Gate Mews, with Italian marble-finished bathrooms
Surrounded by glorious countryside in the village of Udimore, sits this impressive four-kiln oast and barn conversion
A five-bedroom house in the picturesque village of Kettlewell, north Yorkshire
An 18th-century former coaching inn with original staircase, open fireplaces and beams throughout
A Grade II-listed Georgian town house with three bedrooms and a south-facing courtyard, near Arundel Castle
Feel on top of the world at this über chic penthouse on the 37th floor of one of Europe’s tallest blocks.
A Grade II-listed Victorian villa with six bedrooms and two further cottages, all with spectacular sea views
A grade II-listed, Georgian cottage with mature 50ft garden, perfect for summer entertaining
A magnificent Georgian pile with turrets, seven bedrooms, a heated pool and four acres of gardens
Fairoak Farm has five bedroom suites, gym, outdoor swimming pool and golf course
Chic two-bedroom river-fronted flat with a private lift that delivers you directly to your home
A spectacular seven-bedroom Tudor pile, once owned by Henry VIII, with 18 acres of land
A seven-bedroom Georgian property previously used as a picturesque wedding venue
A split-level flat in a church conversion with two en suite bedrooms and 1,200sq ft of living space
A three-bedroom bungalow situated behind an impressive stone wall, £645,000
Windsor Castle overlooks this three-bedroom Victorian cottage located on one of Windsor's smartest roads
Chapel House is a former vicarage with nine bedrooms in the beautiful Upper Wye Valley
A five-bedroom B&B and separate owner's accomodation with potential for conversion
Enjoy summer by the Thames in this two double-bedroom converted warehouse in Rotherhithe village
A one-bedroom, luxury apartment with private gym and concierge service in Moorgate
A four-bedroom house in Hermitage Gardens with three reception rooms and landscaped gardens
A seven-bedroom Grade II-listed property with a separate self-contained apartment
A five-bedroom Victorian house with three reception rooms and galleried landing, £695,000
A six-bedroom farmhouse with five acres of land in a former cloth-making village
A secluded seven-bedroom detached house with large private garden, £490,000
A three-bedroom cottage overlooking Sarratt village green with open fires and solid oak floors
A three-bedroom maisonette flat in a Grade I-listed, Georgian townhouse in a sought-after location
A one-bedroom apartment located within a private gated development, north of Turnham Green
Look forward to a brighter future at two-bedroom Sunny Cottages, ideal for Londoners looking to downsize