X

Create an account to continue reading.

Registered readers have access to our blogs and a limited number of magazine articles
For unlimited access to The Spectator, subscribe below

Registered readers have access to our blogs and a limited number of magazine articles

Sign in to continue

Already have an account?

What's my subscriber number?

Subscribe now from £1 a week

Online

Unlimited access to The Spectator including the full archive from 1828

Print

Weekly delivery of the magazine

App

Phone & tablet edition of the magazine

Spectator Club

Subscriber-only offers, events and discounts
 
View subscription offers

Already a subscriber?

or

Subscribe now for unlimited access

ALL FROM JUST £1 A WEEK

View subscription offers

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating an account – Your subscriber number was not recognised though. To link your subscription visit the My Account page

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

X

Login

Don't have an account? Sign up
X

Subscription expired

Your subscription has expired. Please go to My Account to renew it or view subscription offers.

X

Forgot Password

Please check your email

If the email address you entered is associated with a web account on our system, you will receive an email from us with instructions for resetting your password.

If you don't receive this email, please check your junk mail folder.

X

It's time to subscribe.

You've read all your free Spectator magazine articles for this month.

Subscribe now for unlimited access – from just £1 a week

You've read all your free Spectator magazine articles for this month.

Subscribe now for unlimited access

Online

Unlimited access to The Spectator including the full archive from 1828

Print

Weekly delivery of the magazine

App

Phone & tablet edition of the magazine

Spectator Club

Subscriber-only offers, events and discounts
X

Sign up

What's my subscriber number? Already have an account?

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating an account – Your subscriber number was not recognised though. To link your subscription visit the My Account page

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

X

Your subscriber number is the 8 digit number printed above your name on the address sheet sent with your magazine each week.

Entering your subscriber number will enable full access to all magazine articles on the site.

If you cannot find your subscriber number then please contact us on customerhelp@subscriptions.spectator.co.uk or call 0330 333 0050.

You can create an account in the meantime and link your subscription at a later time. Simply visit the My Account page, enter your subscriber number in the relevant field and click 'submit changes'.

Coffee House

What would Frank Field do for Labour?

19 August 2013

11:18 AM

19 August 2013

11:18 AM

The latest tranche of advice for Ed Miliband contains pleas for the Labour leader to think the unthinkable and hire Frank Field as his welfare adviser to how that Labour was ‘serious’ about reforming the welfare system. This would represent quite a change of direction for the party, and would be what commentators like to call a ‘bold move’, partly because Field is known to be quite difficult to work with, while also offering an expert understanding of benefits and poverty. I interviewed Field for Coffee House in May, and it’s worth revisiting some of his remarks now for an indication of what a Labour welfare policy would look like if he were in charge:

1. Labour needs to apologise for its equalities agenda

Field believes that ‘the equalities agenda the Labour party pushes’ has caused its vote to collapse among working class women, and that it should ‘apologise for what we’ve done for that group up to now’.

[Alt-Text]


2. Labour would have to reverse over much of its old work on tax credits

Field wasn’t particularly complimentary about tax credits, or their architect, Gordon Brown. He called the former Prime Minister ‘that fool’, and said tax credits were a ‘lunacy’ because they make life harder for people who are in work. He said:

‘What happened was this terrible tax credit subsidy – I think it was in 2008 – Gordon Brown, who never really understood anything, let alone the economy, changed the rules on how your child tax credits and child benefit were treated. Up to that point, the monies you got for child benefit, and tax credits, were deducted from your social security payments so the bigger your child benefit, and child tax credits when you were in work, the bigger the incentive to work.

‘But that fool, without by or leave, changed the rules… So this huge incentive to people with three or four children about working was lost. Lots of them to their credit have not responded to the lunacy of Gordon, and continued to work. But once you’re out of work and you realise you still get this…’

3. Labour should gradually raise the minimum wage to living wage levels.

Miliband has so far made noises about incentivising firms to pay the living wage using tax breaks. But he has stopped short of anything mandatory. Field thought that the party needed to take more risks, and one of those should be standing firm on pay. He argued that there was a great fuss around the introduction of the minimum wage that he said had been proven to be unfounded, and that Labour should take heart from that and raise pay to a living wage level.

Field also supports refusing to accept new migrants from Bulgaria and Romania and for Labour to support an EU referendum. In May, he told me that Labour would be ‘mad not to’ take up his ideas on early intervention in troubled families’ lives. But the party would certainly have to be bold to bring him back to the frontbench.

You can read the full interview here.

Give something clever this Christmas – a year’s subscription to The Spectator for just £75. And we’ll give you a free bottle of champagne. Click here.


Show comments
Close