18 Days Remaining

Saturday 2nd
posted by Morning Star in Editorial

ED MILIBAND promises to scrap the bedroom tax on "day one" of a Labour government and create a hardship fund to support its victims while legislation is going through Parliament.

For the more than half a million people ordered to pay money they do not have to remain in their homes, this alone is a reason to vote Labour on Thursday.

Like the poll tax for Thatcher, the bedroom tax has become a shorthand for Tory cruelty. It targets the poor, the disabled and the vulnerable above all others.

It punishes people when their relatives die, "freeing up" room in their houses. It orders them to move to smaller properties which in most cases do not exist. Failure to find such a property does not exempt people from coughing up.

By placing its repeal right at the top of his to-do list, Miliband highlights the real differences that remain between his party and the Conservatives. 

It is not the first time he has done so. When he took on Rupert Murdoch over phone-hacking, when he pledged to tackle soaring private-sector rents and when he voted in Parliament to recognise a Palestinian state, he provoked mockery and demonisation from the Establishment. 

Each stand was extremely popular and if he is to boot David Cameron out of No 10 next week he needs to relentlessly focus on the cruelty, greed and contempt for democracy shown by the coalition parties that have ruled over us for five years.

By contrast, Labour has faltered when it listened to neoliberal die-hards, led in the shadow cabinet by Ed Balls, whose periodic outings to dangle child benefit freezes and Tory spending plans in front of the electorate have left voters cold. 

But the message of the campaign so far is that Labour wins where it is boldest. Miliband has just a few days to show the millions who want Cameron out and austerity ended that he's worth backing.

That means being braver when confronted by ludicrous right-wing scaremongering over the potential influence of the Scottish National Party (SNP).

As this paper has made clear, the SNP is not a socialist party, since on its own terms it seeks to promote national rather than class interest.

It is not even a convincing anti-austerity party, since it is committed to deeper cuts than Labour and reduced corporation tax.

But the insulting drivel peddled by Cameron, Nick Clegg and Nigel Farage, with all its implication that elected representatives of Scotland should not be allowed a voice in Britain's Parliament, should be tackled head-on by the Labour leader rather than indulged.

On Trident, most people in England and Wales are also in favour of non-renewal. Labour concessions there would be welcomed.

On the 50p top rate of tax and raising the minimum wage, most people would like to see both parties go further than they currently do.

The SNP would hamper efforts to bring back public ownership in transport in Scotland, but probably not elsewhere. The party would probably also seek to water down Labour's proposed reforms to media ownership.

Those are problems, which is why the Morning Star calls for a Labour or, where available, Communist vote in Scotland and not one for the SNP.

But the priority for the working class is to unseat the Tories. Nicola Sturgeon has warned Miliband that he would never be forgiven in Scotland if he lets the nasty party retain its grip on power. 

He should be aware that he might never be forgiven in the rest of Britain either.