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Miliband and the wonks’ bauble.

I SEE THAT someone has handed Ed Miliband a wonk’s bauble in the form of an idea called “predistribution”, which he duly paraded in public as this week’s marvel. He’s a bit short on saying what predistribution is, except that it will offer workers a “top-up to their wages” and deliver them more skills. It seems the state has now taken full responsibility for pre- and re-distributing the nation’s wealth as it thinks fit.

The clever-dick pun on “redistribution” is bad enough in itself but it’s the fact that the idea is borrowed from some American academic that reveals the intellectual bankruptcy at the heart of British politics: these are people too dumb to come up with their own flakey ideas.

And the purpose of this flakiness? Well, although the politicos talk about improving peoples’ financial situation, it’s really to make society “more equal”. As any fule kno, that is a Good Thing. Equality is one of the major fetishes of the political class at the moment. “We must have a more equal society,” they keep on saying, without explaining what they mean by equality or how imposing it on everyone will improve things. Or asking if that’s what we want, and if it is, whether we want them to “fix” it for us (the answer to both being no as far as I’m concerned).

They’ve realised that just sticking their hands into peoples’ wallets and bank accounts and taking what they want in taxation is not enough to spread the equality around so now they’ve come up with the grand wheeze of forcing employers to pay higher wages in the first place. And that is what the scam is: wage fixing.

I shouldn’t think they’ve spent much time considering the complexity of deciding how much is “fair” for one group of workers to paid as opposed to another or how this will affect the financial workings of businesses and the market. As most of these politicians and their advisors have little experience of commerce, business, retail – indeed, of anything remotely like the world the rest of us live in – I shouldn’t think they have the faintest notion of how insane “predistribution” is. That’s apart from the ethics of allowing the state to dictate to people how to run their businesses.

You can be quite sure that they’d make sure their own recompense would be “fair”, of course. Or “more equal” as Orwell would have said.

Luckily, the taste in wonks’ baubles is usually fickle and I shouldn’t expect this one to last long despite being part of Labour’s “New Agenda”.

Michael Blackburn.

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