Can’t put a cigarette paper between them?
Whilst we are awaiting the outcome of series of Labour internal policy reviews by their new leader, Ed Miliband, we can still identify post election differences between the parties on issues from the economy to civil liberties
Here is an overview of some of those I have identified in recent months.
The economy. Government and opposition have clashed on the cause of the deficit, and the best way to tackle it. The Conservatives have blamed their Labour predecessors for allowing private debt to grow and for the state over reaching itself. Labour have opposed Osborne’s spending review, arguing that cuts should be delayed and take place over a longer time period.
Public services. Plans to devolve power to GPs have been described as a “dangerous experiment”, at a time when public spending is being tightened. In education, Labour have been highly critical of the idea of “free schools”. Labour also opposed: ending EMA payments to 16-18 years olds; proposals to allow universities to raise tuition fees to £9,000; cuts to school sports funding; Gove’s education white paper.
Welfare reform. Labour have been less than enthusiastic about the Con-Lib government’s plans for welfare reforms: changes to child benefit have been described by Ed Miliband as “unworkable”; the 10% cut in housing benefit is, according to Douglas Alexander, “unfair”; replacing the tax credits system, and the elimination of the child trust fund, will, according to Labour, increase poverty.
Crime. Teresa May announced that the government was to scrap ASBOs (a decision criticised by Labour), and Labour have said that plans to cut the number of front line policemen will have a detrimental effect on crime reduction.
Civil liberties. ID cards have been kicked into the long grass, as has the national identity register. Government plans are in progress to ensure DNA storage and CCTV camera use will be more tightly regulated, and the Conservatives have stuck to commitments to a review of a host of other measures that were a feature of the 1997-2010 Labour governments, such as local authority surveillance powers.
The EU. Under the European Union bill, the Tories plan to bind future governments to holding a referendum before any further “significant” powers are transferred to Brussels.
As an extentsion exercise you could research the background to any of these policies by typing in the name of the policy into a search engine followed by “Labour” or “Labour reaction”. Why do Labour oppose the planned trebling of tuition fees, for instance? And how can the government justify scrapping the EMA?
You can also keep up-to-date with the coalition’s progress via the excellent pledge tracker on the Guardian website. See here.
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