Survation poll shows public massively in favour of £15/hr minimum wage. Starmer claims to be listening to voters but lost front-bencher this week because for arguing against it
Keir Starmer uses ‘listening to voters’ or being ‘voter-facing’ as the excuse for everything he has done against the democratic wishes of Labour MPs and of many Labour-supporting unions – yet it appears that what he’s really doing is sticking his fingers in his ears and shouting ‘lalalala’ at the top of his voice to avoid actually listening.
Unions and the left majority among Labour members have been calling for months for an increase in the minimum wage to at least £15 an hour – to recognise the vital contribution of low-paid workers to society and the economy and to boost the economy itself as the UK tries to recover from the Tories’ disastrous handling of the pandemic, and simply because it’s the right thing to do to ensure that everyone who is working earns enough to live on.
After campaigning for it as a member of Corbyn’s front bench, Starmer has all too predictably performed a screeching u-turn and is now arguing against a £15/hr minimum wage – and this week lost Employment Rights Secretary Andy McDonald for telling him to argue against it too. The principled McDonald resigned in disgust.
Starmer is instead offering a paltry rise to just £10 an hour – in fact a cut to the minimum (misnamed by the Tories ‘living’) wage by the time inflation and increased taxes on the low-paid are factored in.
But the public overwhelmingly sides with McDonald; and with the unions, common sense and common decency. The latest Survation polling on the issue shows an enormous 65% of the population in favour of a £15-per-hour minimum wage, almost five times the number against:
And so they should: millions of working people are forced by low pay to claim Universal Credit and even to use foodbanks.
But instead of listening to the public as he claims, Starmer is instead desperately trying to curry favour with exploitative businesses – presumably in the hope that some of them will fill the yawning gap in Labour’s finances left by his and David Evans’s abuse and mismanagement, or out of some vague notion that looking like he’s in the pocket of corporations will appeal to the very same public that wants to see a rebalancing of the economy in (at least) the form of a proper minimum wage.
The public recognises the contribution and value of people whose work the pandemic has clearly shown to be essential but who receive little financial reward for it. Starmer is choosing to side with the billionaires against them and the public can go hang – but, Starmer being Starmer, he’ll keep claiming he’s listening all the way to the gallows.
No wonder Labour’s polling fell after his conference speech and more people think he should quit than stay – and he’s setting himself up yet again to be outmanoeuvred by Johnson to appeal to public sentiment and raise the minimum wage more than Starmer proposes, just as his timidity on pay for nurses and other frontline workers did.
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