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Coffee House

There’s supposed to be a ‘cost of living crisis’, Ed. Will free gym use solve it?

17 April 2014

1:03 PM

17 April 2014

1:03 PM

There was much excitement on Tuesday night when Labour’s Pat McFadden, a former business and employment minister, appeared on Newsnight and said:

‘I want to see a Labour Party that takes wealth creation every bit as seriously as its fair distribution. I’m all for justice and fairness in the work place. But you have got to create wealth too.’

Tory spinners set to work. ‘Miliband needs to show that wealth creation matters,’ they said. ‘Even his supporters are critical.’

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Tory spinners would say that, wouldn’t they? McFadden was merely one disgruntled voice (and with some form). But the chorus of concern has built over the last 24 hours; encouraged, no doubt, by the improving inflation, employment and wage numbers. Tim Shipman has details in the Mail:

“One source said the news that wages are now outstripping inflation has ‘kicked out the stool’ from under Labour… Another ex-minister said: ‘We’re using the cost of living argument as a substitute for economic competence. If you’re going to reduce the cost of living, you need an economic means of doing so.’”

Twelve months out from a general election and Labour has no plan. That is a literal statement. I asked a party official if he could tell me about Labour’s campaign for the local elections; he replied: ‘Wish I knew.’

Nature cannot abide a vacuum, so it’s little surprise to see that eccentric policies are emerging on the ground. I am a voter in Southwark, where the local Labour Party is promising to ‘make swimming and gym use free for all residents in Southwark’ and ‘open a credit union account with a £10 opening deposit for every 11 year old, and help them get good money advice.’

There is supposed to be a ‘cost of living crisis’ (and, in fact, there is), why is money to be wasted in such a fashion?

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