The Labour Party faces both ways on the minimum wage. Yesterday, Andy McDonald resigned from the shadow cabinet because Keir Starmer wouldn’t let him argue for a £15-an-hour minimum wage. Tonight, the Labour conference voted “unanimously” for a motion committing it to a £15-an-hour minimum wage.
That motion will go into a file marked “foolish things the party has voted for but which the leadership will ignore”. The vote was one that Starmer couldn’t win, because some of the trade union leaders on which he relied to get the important votes through – such as the rule change to make it harder to deselect MPs and the vote against proportional representation – needed a workerist gesture to keep their activists happy.
But what a gesture. No one tried to defend the economics of the £15 policy: it was voted through on the argument that low-paid workers ought to get more money. So they should, but it has to come from somewhere. Anyone who is serious about poverty, and especially in-work poverty, ought to worry about the effects of raising the minimum wage too high.
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