On page two of today’s Daily Mirror, Shadow Cabinet Minister Jonathan Ashworth unleashed his mild-mannered criticisms of the Tories new policy guru, George Freeman. (“Theresa May’s plan to slash employment rights and cut workers’ wages in poorer areas revealed,” Daily Mirror, July 25, 2016.)
This welcome response by Ashworth was inspired by a report authored by Freeman in 2010 which demanded that corporation tax be reduced to just 10%. Mr Ashworth said:
“These are unfair policies that are bad for working people… The new Prime Minister may offer warm words about reaching out and putting working people first – but her actions show that those at the top of the Tory Party will do nothing for working people.”
Corporation tax has already been falling for decades, and in 2010 was at the low figure of 28% (as compared with 52% in 1980). Corporation tax should play a vital role in funding our public services, so tax breaks for the rich our invariably passed onto the poor in the form of worsening living conditions.
Commenting on the report, the Daily Mirror observed how Freedman “also believes people working in new firms should have no employment rights, possibly including maternity pay, paid leave and minimum wage.”
It should come as no surprise that big business lobbies hard to ensure that politicians like Freedman carry through policies that reduce their own tax rates, even as the cost of living for normal people increases day by day.
But it is amazing that some members of the Labour Party, like former corporate lobbyist and current leadership contender Owen Smith (who is part of the ongoing attempt to depose Jeremy Corby) have the gall to compare their own working conditions to the appalling conditions faced by workers at Sports Direct.
This is why it would be nice to see Ashworth throw his weight behind Corbyn’s inspiring leadership.
So far, Ashworth has insisted that “Our priority now must be to support someone who looks like a potential Prime Minister…” Ashworth is, however, unwilling to commit to saying who this might be. (“Jon Ashworth declines to back either Corbyn or Smith in Labour leadership battle,” Leicester Mercury, July 22.)
Instead of sitting on the fence and pretending he can be neutral on such matters, Ashworth should recall the words of popular historian Howard Zinn as “You Can’t Be Neutral On a Moving Train.”