Just put this over at Labourhome. Seems I'm blogging more there than here. Anyway this a copy of what I put up.
Why has it become such a dirty word. Roy Hattersley tells of it being a non-word in the early days of New Labour after Blair had gained the leadership. One of Blair’s groupies told him off for using it. How strange, but then again how strange that Hattersley found himself ending up to the left of the leadership.
What got me thinking about this was seeing the BBC management’s salary and expense figures being released under the freedom of information laws. On top of this we hear of another million pound plus package for the new boss of RBS.
Sure New Labour bought in the minimum wage but at the same time we saw the gap between the poorest in the UK and the top wage earners widen to levels it hasn’t been before. GPs are pulling in six figure salaries which also seems the norm for whole layers of management through the public sector. In the corporate world even failing companies pay top management seriously high salaries and bonuses. At the same time the vast majority of the population is now falling further behind.
Part of Labour’s business used to be attempting to iron out these differences but since New Labour this is no longer the case. They say follow the market forces, it’s no sin to be rich. We no longer look to politicians to be altruistic and working for the public good. Instead why shouldn’t they get as much out of the expenses as they can? After all as Gordon Gekko said “greed is good” and as Maggie said while be very honest, “there is no such thing as society.”
So before the usual Tories start adding their comments, let’s look at the downside of trying to engineer a little equality.
First then, “if we don’t pay these people the fat pay packets we will lose them to other companies or countries”. Not sure if there are that many of either ready to pay Mark Thompson his 600,000+ and if there are banks willing to hire away some of our senior management then good to luck to them. If all our GPs want to go private, fine, but how many will be able to pull in 100,000+ in a saturated private market. Go to the US by all means, but you may not find the health industry there is willing to pay quite like it did in the past.
Second, “we would hurt entrepreneurship in the UK”. Sorry these people are not entrepreneurs. They are corporate and public sector bureaucrats. Successful entrepreneurs will always find a way of making the big money. You only have to look at Mandelson’s mates among the Russian oligarchs. Anyone who has ever dealt with the corporate world will know that talent seldom rises to the top. Instead a level of mediocrity reigns as higher levels worry about competition from below.
For Labour to get back on track and offer the public something different to the Tories we need to be using words like equality again. If we leave it to New Labour we will be trying to prove we are nicer Tories than the real Tories yet again.