Analysis comment

Poll on £15/hr min wage shows if Starmer’s listening at all, it’s not to voters

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

Wilfully deaf to the public: Keir Starmer

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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  1. He’s only listening to advisers who tell him that it’s important he keeps government spending as low as possible. Even though he probably knows that a higher minimum wage boosts the economy he would rather court approval from readers of the Daily Mail than risk being accused of being under the unions thumb.

  2. When I was in Labour I was in a horrible Right Wing branch (I only went to support JC) and this Right Wing political Dumbo said we needed to do a survey in the community to see what the key issues were?
    I said we are a political party and not market researchers and we are allowed to try to politicise people and win them to progressive ideas.
    And if your survey said deport Black people what would you do?
    Their face went the colour of what Labour used to be!
    But knowing progressive policies are popular is helpful but if some are not then we have to engage in discussions with citizens.
    I bet our forefathers and mothers had to fight like hell for the NHS.

  3. Not surprised by the results when you consider the vast number of working people claiming universal credit. To most the rise seems sensible as it would cut government administration costs as people move off universal credit as a result of such a rise.

    I am definitely not a Conservative voter but it will be interesting to hear Rishi speak at their conference. I expect he may have a few vote winning tricks up his sleeve.

  4. As there are so many sectors with huge numbers of vacancies at the moment, it would make sense for companies to provide (at least) £15 p/h and publicise it, then those companies will have people eager to apply for those jobs.

  5. MPs are so massively overpaid, more than three times the average working wage, that it puts them out of touch with the reality of life for so many low paid workers operating in the gig economy, who experience real poverty. Politicians need an incentive to do their job & serve the needs of poor people, which is why we need to introduce a system of ‘Performance Related Pay to encourage & incentivise. MP’s basic pay should be set @ the minimum wage (which would encourage them to increase it), with bonuses based on the costs & standards of living of the British people. A fiscal incentive to Serve the People appears to be necessary..

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