Denis MacShane outlines his ten point plan for this month’s budget
16 April 2009
1. Accept that in the gravest recession for generations, old dogma must be discarded. Unemployment must be tackled now by stopping its growth rather than fatalistically accepting it as in the 1980s and early 1990s and increasing the tax burden by paying out ever-increasing unemployment benefits.2. Work closely with President Obama and other world leaders on coordinating measures to increase demand. This means accepting Keynesian ideas of deficit spending. Better to borrow now to get money circulating. But global demand must also be fair. As well as the IMF and the World Bank Britain should seek to increase the profile of the International Labour Organisation so that Chinese, India and other poor-pay economies increase their internal demand rather than depend only on exports. 3. Copy the Germans and French and bring in a subsidy for trading in old polluting cars in exchange for environmentally friendly cars. No subsidies for 4x4’s or cars over two litres. Getting money out of savings and into circulation via the car showroom, the garage forecourt, and the insurance industry will increase business confidence. 4. Support the British Chambers of Commerce proposal for a short-time working scheme in Britain. This would involve the government partially compensating workers for lost earnings when there is an agreed reduction in working hours and pay and a commitment to training. The TUC as well as the Engineering Employers Federation support this scheme which will help Yorkshire businesses immediately. 5. Step up support for exports as the low-value pound gives British firms trading, especially in Europe, a competitive edge. Defeat the UKIP, BNP and other anti-EU voices as Europe remains Britain’s main export market. 6. Accelerate affordable housing and construction worker employment by allowing councils to build social homes again. Re-write planning rules to tackle the new Nimby generation that likes living in a home built in the 1950s, 1960s or 1970s on green and pleasant land but now want to deny the same right to their children and grand-children. 7. For steelworkers, revisit the Iserbs scheme which under the EU’s Coal and Steel rules allowed support for steelworkers facing redundancy. Some of this money was transferred to the European commission when the old scheme was wound up and could usefully be disinterred. 8. Bring in a vignette scheme for motorway use so that driving on motorways reflects the cost of building, maintaining and policing them. Yorkshire motorists who do not use the motorways can avoid this tax but it will mean that foreign drivers in Britain pay their share just as we pay autoroute tolls or have to buy vignettes when driving in Switzerland or Austria. 9. Make clear that as a general rule no public sector official will earn more than the prime minister’s £194,500 pay. Freeze all BBC licence tax increases until the swollen salaries BBC executives award themselves and their friends like the foul-mouthed Jonathan Ross come back into line with the income of those who are forced to pay the BBC tax. Make all bonus payments to overpaid executives and bankers dependent on a vote of employees and customers.10. Announce a non-replacement programme for all civil servants and town hall officials except those who can prove they are front-line staff in daily contact to serve the public. All public money must now go to help people directly via interim agencies like local firms and the voluntary sector and not be colonised for high salaries and office administration by national and local government. Trade unions must be consulted on all pay awards in excess of average inflation.