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United Kingdom: Sonia Sodha – “UBI is no panacea for us – and Labour shouldn’t back it”

Sonia Sodha (Twitter account image)


Sonia Sodha, lead writer at the Observer, urges the British Left not to support UBI. According to her latest opinion piece for the Guardian, UBI will not cure any social disease that UBI advocates claim will be alleviated, and rather, it is currently a fatal distraction from other battles on which the British Left should focus.


Sodha charted the rationales for UBI in the following three categories: tech utopians’s prophecy of a decrease of jobs, Ken Loachian welfare critics’ blame against inhumanely complex welfare system, and.labour market dystopians’ poverty backstop against insecurity.


Sodha dismisses the tech utopian’s argument by insisting it falls ‘lump of labour fallacy’. According to Sodha, ‘[f]ar from robots stealing jobs, the reality is that many firms are underinvesting in technology, suppressing productivity’ in Britain, and ‘technology will radically reshape the world of work without reducing its sum total’. She also dismisses the argument of what she calls ‘Ken Loachian-welfare critics’ (though Loach himself has never argued what Sodha labels under his name) and states:


“We could fix the caring issue simply by increasing the generosity of the stingy state benefits paid to those who care full-time for older people or adults with disabilities. If we were so inclined, we could get rid of punitive benefit sanctions and replace them with a welfare-to-work system that puts much more emphasis on training and support for people to find the job that is right for them, not the first that comes along.”


Finally, Sodha opposes the labour market dystopians, by accusing them of not fighting for labour rights but for ‘a dribble of cash’. Similar points to Sonia Sodha’s were made by Bo Rothstein in a recent Social Europe article, ‘UBI: A bad idea for the welfare state’ A response followed, ‘Universal Basic Income: Definitions and details’. The same detailed response would apply here.


Behind her accusations, there is a recent move for UBI inside the Labour party. See the articles below for more on Labour Party activity regarding UBI support:

Toru Yamamori, “UNITED KINGDOM: Jeremy Corbyn, candidate for Labour Party leader, recruits Basic Income advocate to draft economic plan”, Basic Income News, August 8th 2015

Toru Yamamori, “United Kingdom: Labour Party considers universal basic income”, Basic Income News, February 21st 2016

Kate MacFarland, “UK: Labour Leader to Investigate Universal Basic Income“, Basic Income News, September 15th 2016

Genevieve Shanahan, “UK: Labour Party sets up working group to investigate UBI”, Basic Income News, February 10th 2017


More information at:

Sonia Sodha, ‘UBI is no panacea for us – and Labour shouldn’t back it’, The Guardian, 18th December 2017.

About Toru Yamamori

has written 122 articles.

Toru Yamamori is a professor at Doshisha University, Kyoto, Japan.

The views expressed in this Op-Ed piece are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the view of Basic Income News or BIEN. BIEN and Basic Income News do not endorse any particular policy, but Basic Income News welcomes discussion from all points of view in its Op-Ed section.

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