Labour’s betrayal of labor

Photo of construction workers laboring. A sledge hammer in the foreground, a man welding in the background.

A new report has gotten the UK one step closer to arranging its first test of universal basic income policies. According to The Independent, Guy Standing, a member of the Progressive Economy Forum, will submit a survey he conducted to the Labour Party.

While the article does not share the results of the survey, a similar poll conducted by the Institute of Policy Research in 2017 found that 49% of Brits would support a UBI scheme.

The news service refers to UBI as “a radical policy,” when announcing that Labour may consider floating it as campaign promise during the general election. They balance this claim with a “to be sure,” noting that both Mark Zuckerberg and Richard Branson have supported UBI initiatives in the past.

Separating this proposal to study UBI from others conducted in Europe and the United States, is the emphasis it would place “on basic income’s impact on stress, insecurity and debt,” rather than labor.

Though keeping with the global tradition, this “radical reform” “could be met by adaptation or abolition of the current personal tax allowance so that higher earners do not gain or lose form the scheme.”

Considering Labour’s historical roots as a stalwart defender of the working class, the proposal of a UBI policy ought to be taken as an insult. The only functional aim of UBI is as at best a concession to, and at worst an inadequate palliative for the worker class, which has been racked by neo-liberal and anti-unionist reforms. But even this is too much for The Independent, who can only conceive of UBI as a replacement for what must be seen as a clunky and inefficient welfare system.

While the effects of UBI are not known, if the only possible arrangement under which it can be studied is to determine if the loss of welfare would cause “stress or insecurity,” then its not worth studying at all.