Labour must be prepared for the mess it will inherit

<span>‘Rishi Sunak and Jeremy Hunt are emptying the coffers with the prime purpose of making each Labour proposal for investment less possible.’</span><span>Photograph: Maria Unger/Reuters</span>
‘Rishi Sunak and Jeremy Hunt are emptying the coffers with the prime purpose of making each Labour proposal for investment less possible.’Photograph: Maria Unger/Reuters

Jonathan Freedland’s article would be sensible and correct if Tory reluctance to accept the inevitable was just that – an understandable sentimental reluctance to accept the nature of democracy and take on the constitutionally respectable role of opposition (This Tory long goodbye is toxic for the country – and making Labour’s job ever harder, 15 March).

But, given the greed of their donors and the gravy trains they provide for loyal servants, they still need time to cement in place every reward they can for their donors and manipulate systems to ensure that an incoming government will be obliged to continue to transfer wealth to Tory cronies.

Labour will be saddled with contractual obligations to some of the world’s greediest corporations, “providers” and “trusts”. Their legendary efficiency has largely been proven in their capacity to transfer public money to the offshore accounts favoured by those who are paid huge sums to pour shit into our rivers.

Keir Starmer would do well to identify the greed and corruption among our rulers. The absurd suggestion that it might somehow be novel to cosset the “wealth creators” tells us all what fools we are.
Will Taylor
Tiverton, Devon

• Jonathan Freedland has got to the kernel of the problem for Labour; there is no way out, on the economy front, other than to back off large schemes of expenditure.

I think that both Rachel Reeves and Keir Starmer should go on a high-profile attack to point out the fact that Rishi Sunak and Jeremy Hunt are emptying the coffers with the prime purpose of making each Labour proposal for investment less possible.

Then they should hint at an immediate and major review of how democracy and government have stopped working in the UK, especially over the past decade. They need to keep it open but sound radical. They can give the rightwing Tory press concern but no hooks to hang anything on.

This would allow them to indicate to the Labour stalwarts that they have not lost sight of how much is to be done, but also not frighten away the sceptical doubters and floating voters. They should commit to cleaning up the political process alongside reform of the economy.
Anthony Levi

• The second half of Jonathan Freedland’s column on the Tory “long goodbye” spelled out in stark terms the dilemma for Labour of the “larceny by Hunt” chipping away the current Labour policies.

I trust someone in the backroom has a plan such as in 1997, when we committed to maintain the inherited Tory finances for two years, but took actions not trumpeted in advance to raise funds. I cite the abolition of advance corporation tax, listed on page 20 of the government annual report for 1997-98, but it was not one of the 177 manifesto commitments reported upon. It had the effect of raising £5bn. A handy sum. True, it had the side-effect of seeing off many final salary pensions schemes, but that decision was made by employers.

The financial system and tax laws are littered with schemes that are inefficient, anti-growth, and anti-higher productivity, so there is plenty of scope for issues that Labour does not need to be specific about, but which will raise a few useful coppers.
Jeff Rooker
House of Lords, pensions minister 1999-2001

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