From Tax to Twitter: Policies the Labour Defectors Might Support

(Bloomberg) -- The seven members of Parliament who quit the opposition Labour Party on Monday were clear what they’re opposed to -- Brexit, leader Jeremy Corbyn’s handling of an anti-Semitism row, and Labour’s shift to the left since he took over. They were less clear on policies they’ll put forward.

But a pamphlet written last year by one of the newly formed Independent Group could yield some clues. Chris Leslie’s “Centre Ground” document calls for a clampdown on tax avoidance and a ban on anonymous social media accounts to prevent online abuse. Other policy proposals include:

  • Unifying tax relief on pensions contributions at 30 percent; higher earners currently benefit from 40 percent relief, compared with only 20 percent for basic rate taxpayers
  • Using the national curriculum to boost financial literacy, which Leslie argues would help tackle rising populism
  • Offering 20-week retraining sabbaticals to help workers cope with technological developments, and to reflect an ageing population
  • Pushing for a new international treaty on tax avoidance to clamp down on corporate tax arbitrage
  • A migration policy based on immigrants’ contribution to society, such as more access to the National Health Service and bereavement leave for those paying more tax

There’s no guarantee these will appear in any future manifesto, and the group has so far been light on details. But given it has said it wants to be a home for center-left politicians, it’s a good place to start.

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