Guido has to confess to a soft-spot for Jon Cruddas. He comes across as the more thinking type of leftie – he spotted earlier than most within Labour that Cameron might have electoral appeal and a competitive ideological offering, when they were dismissing him merely as a salesman-chameleon. He has shown a far better understanding of the Notting Hill set, possibly because he is a member. So his widely anticipated Compass speech last night was a little underwhelming.
He was good on the diagnosis of Labour’s troubles and the loss by New Labour of the social anchor of their core social base (LabourList has the full text). Policy-wise his prescription seemed as uncompelling as Gordon Brown’s own. The FT’s Jim Pickard took notes:
1 – establishment of a High Pay Commission – Yawn, symbolism of no consequence.
2 – greater tax justice, including closing tax havens and more equal distribution of income and wealth; Levelling down. When even the Guardian uses tax havens you can bet they won’t be closed.
3 – index link benefit levels, pensions and the minimum wage to average incomes; Can taxpayers really afford higher dole and benefits with 6 million economically inactive welfare recipents and gargantuan government debt?
4 – replacing tuition fees with a graduate solidarity tax; Whatever.
5 – a Fair Employment Clause in all public contracts; Whatever.
6 – windfall and transaction taxes and resetting capital gains tax; Sure, drive businesses, jobs and capital overseas.
7 – a new covenant with the military, including more investment in mental healthcare, equipment, housing and support for veterans funded by scrapping plans to renew Trident and re-deploying the money saved within the Minister Of Defence budget; Maybe. Isn’t this LibDem policy?
8 – a Green New Deal, to include scrapping the third runway at Heathrow; Hardly going to inspire consumerist voters.
9 – remutualisation of the finance sector; Half of it is nationalised already.
10 – a credit card bill of rights for consumers. ‘What do we want – Standardised APR definitions – When do we want ’em? NOW!’ To the barricades comrades …
If Cruddas is to be the source of inspirational ideas for the left, Guido has to say: the cupboard is bare.