At present, the UK Government is running a little-publicised public consultation on the future of the BBC. (That’s the British Broadcasting Corporation for you Americans — our state-owned and funded broadcaster.)
The campaigning group 38 Degrees has provided a simple way to respond online to this consultation, and I did so this morning. Here are the questions and my responses. I urge you to submit your own thoughts, too.
“The economy is the central, critical, irreducible core of this election”, wrote David Cameron in the run-up to the election. “Everything depends on a strong economy.” And although I am not inclined to agree with everything Cameron says, this seems pretty much unarguable. If we as a country want to do the things that civilised countries do — educate our young, heal our sick, feed our poor, care for our elderly — we need money to do it.
I was very disappointed to read about the response of Tim Farron, the new leader of the Liberal Democrats, to Jeremy Corbyn’s appointment as Labour leader:
The MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale argued that Corbyn’s victory would open “a massive space in the centre ground of British politics” […] Since Corbyn’s election, some party figures have suggested privately the Labour party is starting to encroach on territory that Farron had marked out for the Lib Dems, necessitating a change of direction.
This disappoints me for two reasons.
We hear a lot from Labour MPs about how the only way to win the next General Election is to take the “centre ground” — not to be seen as a left-wing party. Jeremy Corbyn, then, as a “hard left” politician, is the last thing the Labour Party needs, so the reasoning goes. Labour need to take the centre.
What is this centre?
It’s hard to believe it was less than four months ago that the Conservatives won the 2015 UK General Election with a clear majority, forming the most right-wing government in many years. I argued at the time that they didn’t win it so much as Labour lost it by not presenting an alternative — an interpretation based on the fact that the people of Scotland, who were offered an alternative political philosophy, overwhelmingly voted for it. The common narrative that Labour lost by moving too far to the left makes no sense at all to me.
Now everything has changed.
George Osborn’s budget raises the threshold for the higher (40%) tax rate from the current £42,385 to £43,000. Since I am fortunate enough to earn that much, the £615 difference will now be taxed at 20% rather than 40%, saving me 20% of that £615 — that is, £123 a year, or about £2.37 a week. Whoopy doo. I don’t want to be ungrateful, but £2.37 a week is not going to change my life.