MPs urge Miliband to lean further Left in alternative election manifesto

Four North-East Labour MPs have urged Ed Miliband to swing to the Left and rip up his “tragic” commitment to further deep spending cuts.

Grahame Morris (Easington), Ian Mearns (Gateshead), Dave Anderson (Blaydon) and Ian Lavery (Wansbeck) are among 16 rebels issuing the challenge to their leader.

Their alternative election manifesto demands:

* A £30bn investment package – an “alternative way out of endless austerity” – funded either by higher borrowing, the state-owned banks, or a levy on the super-rich.

The MPs call on Mr Miliband to exploit 0.5 per cent interest rates, arguing it would cost just £150m a year to finance the package – which they say would create more than a million jobs, within three years.

Instead, they say: “All three main parties, tragically, seem to agree that deep spending cuts must continue to be made until the structural budget deficit is wiped out in 2019-20.”

* Rail nationalisation, by taking train operating franchises back into public ownership when they expire.

The MPs reject Labour’s plan to allow not-for-profit firms to bid for franchises, condemning it as timid and “wholly unnecessary”.

They claim privatisation costs £1.2bn a year, adding: “Over 80 per cent of the public want the railways re-nationalised, which must include a significant proportion of Tories.”

* Stronger trade union and employment rights, with a return to collective bargaining “as a check against excessive corporate power”.

The alternative manifesto blames the disappearance of union-negotiated agreements for a sharp fall in the share of national income going to salaries and wages – from 65 per cent in 1980, to 53 per cent in 2012.

And it says: “We should therefore actively promote sectoral collective bargaining and strengthen the rights of trade unions to recognition, and of their members to representation.”

The move laid bare how Mr Miliband will struggle to carry his party to make the deep spending cuts planned, even if he wins a small majority in May.

The left-wing group of MPs are keen to take advantage of the rise of the anti-austerity Green Party and of the SNP to push Labour in a more radical direction.

Meanwhile, Len McCluskey, the Unite general secretary, has made repeated threats to establish a new workers’ party if Labour loses after offering a “pale shade of austerity”.

Last year, Mr McCluskey urged the likes of Mr Morris, Mr Mearns and Mr Lavery to “put the brakes” on Ed Miliband if he tries to take Labour to the right

> Even further to the right, I think he means…

It followed the trio’s criticism of Labour support for an overall welfare cap and vote against compulsory unpaid work experience.

Source – Northern Echo,  26 Jan 2015

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