Rashford, feeding children & UBI

That Marcus Rashford has highlighted the fact that even in 2020 too many children live in such poverty that they don’t have sufficient nutritional food to eat is a given. His well known solution is to try to get government to provide free school meals in school holidays, a battle he won for the last summer holidays but is presently losing for the next Christmas holidays. The BBC has the latest on its website – see link below:-

www.bbc.co.uk/newsround/54550587

I support his campaign but is it really a long term solution to fix child poverty? Is it not just another sticking plaster for our failed welfare system?

My view is that we need to be looking towards a solution that does not require high profile campaigners to launch a renewed fight before every school holiday to ensure children eat well. In short we need to revolutionise the way our society runs so that we really do tackle poverty properly. Form me there’s only one way to do that and it’s a rather obvious solution which has been talked about for many years – Universal Basic Income or UBI.

Yes I know that those on the right of UK politics will straight away will say things like ‘how on earth will we pay for it?’ or even ‘I’m not paying for it through my taxes’. Yes UBI will be expensive but at it’s core it’s about trying to say goodbye to poverty once and for all. And yes I also know that many on the left oppose UBI (Kier Starmer for one) but it is gathering ground amongst politicians who see themselves as being progressives, including many liberals and some socialists.

That UBI has gained such significant traction in recent times amongst liberals has even surprised me as a radical social Liberal of the left because often liberals, particularly those with a middle class background, can be fearful of promoting a social policy that has taxation implications. Maybe it’s a sign that liberals and progressives across the political spectrum are finally realising that fighting poverty by chucking crumbs off the table to the poor has never solved and indeed never will solve the poverty that’s so endemic in our broken UK society.

Good luck to Rashford, a wealthy man from a poor background who really does want to do some good for those with nothing. However, if we back what he’s doing let’s do it in a way that brings about a more permanent solution to poverty rather than engaging in a regular battle with government about whether children will eat in the next school holiday. As I say the solution is rather obvious – UBI.

Labour’s dilemma – Class based V Progressive Politics

Labour is trying to pull back into its fold the right wing white working class voters who voted Tory at the last General Election. This despite the fact that these voters can often hold views which would embarrass a truly progressive party – This is summed up by Jim Hancock who says this in one of his recent blog pieces (Hancock’s Half Page):-

‘Sir Keir’s statement that “we love our country” was really important. For Labour to have any hope of regaining its northern strength, it must recognise the deep patriotism of the working class.’

To me that deep patriotism sadly often proclaims itself as racism, anti-Semitism, pro-Brexit, anti-gay, anti-Muslim etc. etc.

At the same time Labour’s also looking to bring on board real progressives who certainly reject the views outlined above but who, like the working class backers, became disillusioned with the party in recent years mainly due to the party’s fence sitting over Brexit and its anti-Semitism problems.

And thereby hangs Labour’s dilemma; trying to appeal to progressives and regressives at the same time. Under Tony Blair they achieved it although more I think by ignoring their white working class supporters (whom I’m sure must have been a huge embarrassment to Blair, whilst he still needed their votes) than by currying favour with them.

Starmer, who certainly does not have Blair’s charismatic qualities, therefore has a huge task on his hands. And if you add into that heady mix the fact that Labour has been almost wiped out in Scotland the task gets all the more difficult with Labour, like the Lib Dems, being a unionist party when the Scots are moving further towards independence.

My point in writing this posting is that Labour needs the Lib Dems to be successful just as much as Lib Dems need Labour to be successful. They’ve tried going toe to toe and it gave the Tories a free hand so they’ve got to do just the opposite and find a way not to fight each other in those seats where doing so simply hands seats to the Tories.

Yes I know that in many policy areas the Libs will continue be to the left of and more progressive then Labour. That’s just been highlighted by the Libs backing UBI & Labour rejecting it. And of course Labour traditionally has wanted to fight the Libs probably more than the Tories because they’re another left wing sect they want out of their way. However, unless the two parties want a re-run of the terrible campaigns which Corbyn and Swinson delivered in December 2019 then they’re going to have to find a way to live with each other as Blair and Ashdown did.

And yes I know it’s our appalling electoral system that creates this need to co-operate between two very different parties but without that co-operation then you know what the probable outcome could well be – yes that’s right another Tory Government!

But Labour’s USP has always been that they are not the Tories and maybe not being the Tories is all that’s needed now? If so it explains why Labour’s all but a policy vacuum; they stand for nothing much at all but they’re not Tories.

Universal Basic Income

Now this is a subject I’ve blogged about before, on a few occasions actually, but our present health crisis seems to have brought it very much to the surface of political thinking beyond us Social Liberals who have been banging on about it for many a year now.

I came across the poll results above from 2019 almost by chance recently and am pleased to see that UBI is finally finding favour amongst a wider group of progressive thinkers.

And here’s what the World Economic Forum thinks:-

www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/04/covid-19-universal-basic-income-social-inequality/

And the New Statesman:-

www.newstatesman.com/politics/economy/2020/04/covid-19-universal-basic-income-benefits-welfare

There’s no doubt that UBI is radical, progressive and if implemented properly i.e. not half heartedly it can change our so unequal society very much for the better. However, getting politicians who are neither radical or progressive (there are many of them in the Tory Party and sadly too many in the Labour Party) to see the advantages will continue to be an uphill struggle, but who said promoting fairness was easy.

But and it’s a BIG but you can’t back Brexit and UBI. Brexit is about making the super rich richer and the poor poorer, UBI is about re-balancing our economy and social justice.

Universal Basic Income (UBI)

The Liverpool Echo has the article on its website – see link below:-

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/uk-brink-swapping-universal-credit-16250463

Outside of Social Liberals this has been an economic/welfare policy which the two larger political parties have shown little if any real interest in to my knowledge to date.

It’s matter that I have blogged about before – see links below:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2018/05/26/a-low-wage-culture-well-yes-if-you-live-outside-the-economically-overheated-south-east/

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2017/06/20/moderation-bugger-that-for-a-lark-im-too-angry-about-whats-happening-to-the-uk/

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2017/04/02/its-about-time-that-the-liberal-democrats-really-did-propose-radical-solutions-to-poverty/

My most recent recollection about UBI is that one of the Canadian Provinces (could be Alberta) is considering trying to bring in a form of Universal Basic Income via it’s Liberal Government.

If this social welfare approach really is moving into mainstream political debate in the UK then we should welcome the move. Having said that the irony of this obviously progressive policy being looked at at a time when the UK is suffering from the worst kind of regressive government (with a regressive Brexit supporting Official Opposition too) is not lost on me. So to hear that the Brexit supporting Labour leadership are backing a type universal income is more than a bit bizarre.

The poorest in our society can be helped by UBI but if you back Brexit which will make the poor poorer, as Labour does, then they are actually backing complete opposites!

Another example of Labour trying to face both ways at once?