Labour Leadership Battle: Vision of a path from poverty to jobs for all

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THE BECKETT manifesto says Labour should set out 'a vision', rather than being obliged to name particular spending commitments.

'We must challenge the Tory dogma that change can be neither advocated nor sought, unless every aspect is on a specific and short timescale, fully costed and fully balanced by savings or funds from elsewhere.

'We would never have had a health service or a welfare state if, before we could dare to voice our aspirations, we had been obliged to prepare detailed briefings and costings down to the last


'We must be able to produce evidence of underfunding (in the health service) without being expected, perhaps three years from an election, to give a figure and a source for extra resources,' she says.

'Socialism is the language of priorities. You have a vision. You build up a programme of how to deliver that vision; but how far you go down that programme depends on the circumstances of the day.'

A similarly cautious note is sounded on tax. 'When tax loopholes abound, when so much tax is not collected, and when the Tories waste millions on follies like rail privatisation, we must challenge the notion that change and improvement are impossible without ordinary British families paying more taxes.'

'Our choice must be fair tax. It is unacceptable that our tax system is pay-as-you-earn for ordinary families but pay- as-you-like for the privileged few,' Mrs Beckett says.

On full employment, she states: 'There is no higher priority . . . in order to achieve this, we need active government, using all the economic tools at our disposal. Full employment is necessary, because today's poverty and unemployment cost us more than we can afford.'

On the minimum wage and rights at work, she says: 'We need to offer people paths out of poverty, in particular the poverty experienced at work; for example, through a national minimum wage.

'Economic success must go hand-in-hand with a fair deal for people in work. When people know that they have the rights they deserve, are rewarded justly and that the law protects them from discrimination, they work together with enthusiasm and achieve success.'

Looking further afield, she says: 'Our task is not just to rebuild Britain but, in co-operation with our European partners, to build a new Europe.'