IPPR Report – Another Case of Garbage In, Garbage Out

Labour leader Ed Miliband launched a heavily-trailed new report this morning produced by Labour’s favourite thinktank the Institute of Public Policy Research (IPPR) called “The Condition of Britain”. It has been said that it’s a report that will “define social democracy in the coming decade” and that it is “a Magna Carta for social democracy in the 21st century“. I think some people are too easily impressed.

The report (all 280 pages of it), contains 28 recommendations, which Labour seems to be largely adopting as party policy. The recommendation that caught the headlines was the one recommending scrapping benefits for 18-21 year olds, and replacing them with a means-tested “youth allowance”. This is so similar to Tory Party policy that George Osborne’s bitch Matt Hancock accused Labour of stealing their policy. Reading through the other recommendations though, it’s striking just how unambitious they are. Nothing is a great departure from the current direction of travel, and any of them could be adopted as Tory or Lib Dem policies without any eyebrows being raised.

Why is this? The IPPR label themselves as “centre-left”, and Labour should be looking for some eye-catching policies to differentiate themselves from the opposition. I think the problem is one of GIGO, or “garbage in, garbage out”. The underlying assumption before the report was even written was that austerity is a given, there is no money and every new commitment must be matched by a cut or tax hike elsewhere. So they paint themselves into a box and then say to themselves “within these constraints we have arbitrarily imposed on ourselves, what can we suggest to be different from the other lot? Answer: not very much it seems!

It seems to me that if they actually want to make a difference, the starting point needs to be “what would we like to do in an ideal world”, and work back from there. So in an ideal world, we might like to build everyone a mansion. Unfortunately, there is not enough land, building materials or labour to achieve that, but there may be enough of those things to ensure eveyone can live in decent accomodation at an affordable price. So what’s the IPPR’s recommendation on housing?

¬£Councils should be able to retain and reinvest a share of any savings achieved by local action to reduce housing benefit spending in their area. In addition to their existing powers, they should also be given greater freedom to borrow responsibly against their housing assets and income.”

We have quite a convoluted suggestion where somehow it is worked out a council has “saved” on housing benefit through their actions, and they can then use some of these savings to build houses, or they can borrow money to do the same. I’m not sure we should be encouraging councils to borrow more. They can go bust, and won’t be able to borrow at as low rates as central government (who can always borrow at 0% should they wish). Implicit is the IPPR’s recommendation is that there is enough land, labour and materials to build enough houses. If that’s so, wouldn’t a better suggestion be that central government just gives the money to build housing directly to local councils? Why over-complicate things?

Similar criticisms can be levelled at other recommendations. If you start with garbage assertions about the inevitability of austerity, the solutions you come up with are bound to be severely limited. It just makes Labour look a bit, well pointless.

8 thoughts on “IPPR Report – Another Case of Garbage In, Garbage Out

  1. Reblogged this on Vox Political and commented:
    What IS the matter with the Labour leadership? Any idiot can see there is nothing in the IPPR’s report that’s going to light a fire under the British electorate, yet Labour decides to go big on it.
    Somebody needs to ask Ed Miliband, not IF he’s trying to lose the next election, but WHY he’s trying to lose it.

    1. I’ve had similar thoughts. My best guess is he’s trying to throw the election so that Labour won’t be the ones in power when the whole thing collapses in on itself like a house made of cards. They’ve already said that they won’t be able to undo a lot of the changes already made, so the next best option in the party’s eyes would be to make the Conservatives sleep in the bed that they made, over jumping into it themselves.
      It does nothing to help the people who will suffer, but that is probably the best move they could hope to make politically because, once it all tanks, they can then reclaim it and build it up again – this time with a harsh reminder to the populous why they do not want to let it the blues have a shot at it, ever, again.

  2. I think the whole Labour leadership have been blinded by blarism. This sort of small scale differentiation worked in 1997 as an electoral ploy as Labour had been in opposition since 1979 and much more left wing than the Tory party from 1979 until 1987. It made a big impact as a departure from the recent past. Now it is all old hat and makes little impact on the public mind.

  3. Big banks and the corporations pulling the strings and you get business as usual!
    The only change will be through the grassroots demanding real change and austerity out of the window, now! Very difficult as it has been such a successful brainwashing operation – there is no money. Rubbish!

  4. The anti austerity march had Labour MPs within it.

    Why do not those Labour MPs not make a bid for leadership of the Labour party, in plenty of time for campaigning for the 2015 general election in May.

    There is a sign that Labour is breaking up, with a Labour party member starting a new party called the North East Party and running candidates in the 2015 general election. This is what happened to the dead as a dodo PASOK in Greece, that fragmented to nothing.

    The Daily Telegraph had an article / blog from a Labour party member, also a GMB trade union official entitled – Labour is already starting to drift into the post-Miliband era.

    Near the end of this article we have the reason Miliband’s reliance on American political websites and think tanks that seem to be part of the Tory party is his undoing. … Ed Balls insistence on a public sector pay freeze and detemination to match day to day Tory spending limits, will make a useful scapegoat (for Labour losing 2015 general election).

    The women / grey vote is the key, because all parties are ignorning them, even ignored by the Pensioners Convention and Age UK.

    These are not just the 530,000 who lost state pension payout at 60 since 2013, when women MPs kept the payout from 2012, but the millions of women losing food money from all the tax, benefit and pension changes leaving women with nothing in old age forever.

    If anyone has the ear of the MPs who attended the anti-austerity march, this is how to win big in 2015, if they do a take-over of the Labour leadership, already deemed a failure to win Labour as a majority government. Being a minority government is not good enough, as the Tories will still rule.


    – Revoke Pension Bill and Flat Rate Pension in 2015
    – Grant women back state pension payout at 60 (payable if remain in work or retire anyway) in 2015 monthly from January.
    – Equalise from 2015 state pension payout at 60 for men as well (done in France and EU said nothing).
    – Give husband / partner money into the household by granting tax-free lump sum the lost state pension payout – 30,000 women from 2013, 500,000 from 2014.
    – By revoking Flat Rate Pension do not leave millions of women into the future with no state pension at all, or any other food money at all.

    – Revoke Welfare Reform Act

    – End all welfare admin in DWP and private firms.

    – Shut down all Jobcentres with all their benefit sanction regime.

    – Feed everybody, adults and children by
    Bring in law that all food businesses must donate all surplus food to Fareshare, supplier of all food banks, and
    no surplos food goes to landfill or food waste to energy from waste power stations.

    This then brings in the hundreds of thousands of tonnes of food and
    makes possible matching Europe where local councils provide kitchens giving out daily free cooked meals and hot drink 7 days a week, to the working poor and poor pensioners, and to those with delayed or sanctioned benefits as well as the unemployed, that are the minority of the poor,
    until the below comes into effect.

    – Bring in a universal non-means tested citizen wage from 18, replacing all benefits and by being
    non-means tested needs minimal admin (perhaps already in budgets).
    Clawed back from the rich by a 50 per cent Income Tax Rate.

    No-one then cares if you are disabled and sneer at you in the street as a benefit scrounger, or grimace if get up a walk a short distance.

    No-one calls you a benefit fraud, when this is only 0.03 per cent of all benefit claimants.

    The only people left on benefits are then non-citizens, who also pay stealth taxes just the same as everyone else by residence. Who else might do the admin for them but DWP / private firms?


    – In / out referendum for EU membership, as the poorest suffer austerity the most, so why contribute to a layer of government causing people’s deaths all over Europe and allowing austerity here in England.

    – The money saved by not contributiong to EU government and paying the England’s Europe politicians plus their expenses, could go into forgiving the NHS debts and make them debt free.
    And costs of putting all council social care into the budgets of NHS.
    So more jobs for Carers for disabled / sick / elderly, for men and women.


    Enough different from the Tories?

    This gets a lot of the 23 million over 50s to vote Labour that is actually anything socialist.

    And brings back the 60 per cent of 18-30 years olds who did not vote in 2010 general election.

    Bearing in mind Labour left inform us that over 35 million voters did not vote Labour in last two general elections, which means New Labour is too like the Tories.

    Hope the Labour party can renew itself quickly, without the Eds and get into power.

    The hungry and dying cannot wait.

    1. Good thinking. Keep pushing at all levels and eventually we will get some of these reforms. Unfortunately the rich don’t want to pay any tax so they will fight tooth and nail to stop 50% tax rate. However, a robin hood tax would fund all this and more!

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