Friday, May 29, 2015

So Long It's Been Good To Known You (5)

IX: "Values"


In an interview on Newsnight, Keir Starmer (who has sensibly decided that he doesn't want to be the one resigning on May 8th 2020) said the following: 

[People are saying] "we want an authentic debate about what Labour stands for". Really simple values, and we want to boil them down. Most people want a job that pays them properly, where they can be skilled up and get on. Most people want a house or a home where they can live with their immediate family.

Well, hang on a moment. 

Stop: think.

That's actually really sensible!

What does Labour stand for?

1: Everyone who wants a job should be able to get a job 

2: Everyone who has a job should be able to afford a house 

I'd vote for you on those two policies alone. 

And I guess, given five years, a favourable wind and no wars, a government could have a jolly good go at delivering on those two promises. Massive programme of house building, to make more houses available and to make the price of existing ones fall. (The Daily Mail would hate that, which would be another advantage.) Massive job creation scheme, especially in the house building industry, to move us towards full employment. Financial jiggery-pokery to reduce mortgage interest rates. Living wage defined as "the minimum you need to afford a mortgage on a basic house". Legal minimum wage increased to "living wage" level. Laws against landlords sitting on empty properties. New council estates with low, subsidized rents for people who can't get mortgages. Right-to-buy council houses, with a proviso that for every council house sold to a tenant, a new one is put up somewhere else. 

Dammit, Jim, it's a long shot but it just might work...

Sadly, I don't think hat this was what he meant.

I don't think he meant that a future Labour leader should pledge that if he becomes Prime Minister, everyone who wants a job can have a job and everyone who has a job can afford a house. I think he meant that Labour values should be that having a job and owning a house were good things.

Values is a slippery word. You can disbelieve in God and disagree with Jesus Christ's moral teaching, but still believe in Christian values. Her Majesty the Queen thinks that the English and the Saudi Arabians have common values: where "values" presumably means whatever is left over when trivial differences of opinion over letting ladies drive cars and stoning rape victims are disregarded. 

I don't think he meant "If I were Prime Minister, everyone would be able to afford a house of their own." I think he meant "If I were Prime Minister, I would encourage poor people to think 'Maybe one day if I'm very good I'll be be able to afford to have a house of my own, like the rich folks over there.' "

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