Frank Field MP
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10p - The end of the line for Labour too?

The Government threatened what it liked to call the rebels that voting against them was a nuclear option.

The thumbscrews were applied. If the new clause blocking the Budget was passed Armageddon would begin.

From 18:00 that evening the Government would not have been able to collect taxes. Taxes so far collected during the current financial year under the temporary taxing powers granted to all Governments to get their Budget proposals through by August 5th would be annulled. The Government would be compelled to return taxes already collected in this financial year.

The threat worked. In the end only sixteen Labour members voted in what was our last chance to rectify a Labour Government increasing taxation for those on lowest income by abolishing the 10p starting rate.

But did the Government's response suggest Armageddon might occur in other, equally awful ways? The Chancellor maintained that there would not only be tax chaos but this would domino into the debt market. A gilt strike would occur, the currency would collapse and unemployment would surge.

Faced with such a prospect, an administration determined to survive would immediately have called a confidence vote on its tax-raising powers and this would have been passed long before Parliament shut up shop at 10 p.m.

But the Government's scenario assumes that it would stand idly by, feebly rubbing its hands, like some clapped-out Uriah Heep. Merely to accept that this was the scenario - and that Chancellor assured us there was no option two - suggests that the Government had given up the will to live.

That life might be ebbing away might be due to the state of Labour's heart. For while we were dubbed rebels, the term rebel can surely be applied to those at the heart of the Government who dared to think, let alone act upon an attack on the living standards of low wage earners.

The one golden threat that links together Old Labour, New Labour and just Labour has been a belief that on whatever else we might get wrong due to human frailty, we were in business to protect those who have least in life.

Whatever state we have been in nationally or locally, no matter how useless our Parliamentary candidates have been, Labour voters knew that we possessed a common DNA. We would go down fighting against all manner of odds to defend the position of those who had least - particularly those we keep mumbling on about when we talk of the decent hard working families of this country.

The abolition of the 10p was an assault on Labour's core value.

When the results of the next election are published, and the detailed surveys are completed on what made people vote which way, I cannot help feeling that the 10p abolition will be the issue on which poor and rich voters alike concluded there was nothing special about Labour - New, Old or Ordinary - to distinguish it from the other political parties.

By refusing to find the minutest fraction of the sums we shovelled towards the banking community, historians may conclude that it was not the rebels, so-called, but a Labour Government itself that pushed the nuclear button.
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Showing comments 1 to 5 of 9

Do governments think that once you are in the lower income bracket you loose your memory and that when the time comes to ask for support, it will be there, then they are living in cloud cuckoo land. be sure the harvest sown will be the one reaped and I for one will never ever vote Labour again . I also remember the poll tax and open door policies to immigration so the other two parties needn't get smug either. Well done frank for trying.
Comment by Anonymous on 15 Jul 2011
If Frank Field were the Labour Prime Minister I would seriously consider voting for them despite the poor quality of their (underpaid?) MP's. I trust Cameron no more than Tony Blair, and the Conservative MP's are no better on the whole than the Labour ones.
Comment by Anonymous on 15 Jul 2011
Like a previous contributer, I too always supported labour since I first voted, (I am now 62), as I believe in fairness, particularly in taxation. I was first dismayed at the doubling of my council tax by labour which is one of the unfairest means of taxation envisaged, then this appalling policy of abolishing this 10p tax was the final straw and I shall never vote labour again.
Comment by Anonymous on 15 Jul 2011
What annoys me is that the £60 'one off' payment made by Alistair Darling compensated those earning £18,500 or lower for one year only. The next tax year reverted to the original wrong when Alistair Darling and George Brown thought that it would all be forgotten.This ploy of delaying tax rises has been used several times in the past by George Brown, however we will not forget.
Comment by Anonymous on 15 Jul 2011
I am sorry you lost the 10p vote and that the new labour party has once again stabbed the poor in the back whilst smiling in the face of the affluent. I have voted labour all my life but never again. This government represents all that is bad in Thatcherism. What a shame the breakaway form the party to form the Lib Dems happened all those years ago and not in the present climate as I am sure it would have seen many people voting for the new party. I am sure my forefathers are turning in their graves.
Comment by Anonymous on 15 Jul 2011

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