John McDonnell. Picture credit to: PoliticsHome.
John McDonnell’s proposes to include a basic income pilot in the next Labour Party’s manifesto, an intent which has been going on since 2016, at least. During 2018 a working group was formed, led by professor Guy Standing, a prominent economic advisor to McDonnell and specialist in basic income and related issues, giving rise to the publication and presentation in May 2019 of a detailed report about its applications within the UK’s context. McDonnell dubs this new manifesto as “more radical” than the previous 2017 manifesto, probably also including the more urgent measures to curb carbon emissions, relating to the impending climate emergency.
McDonnell, a 40-year companion to Jeremy Corbyn in politics, is now sure that “at least one pilot” should be set up in the United Kingdom territory, as soon as the Labour Party gets elected to government and Corbyn sits as Prime Minister. This is still being internally drafted within Labour’s top advisors, but McDonnell remains confident. He has said that “we’ve had [basic income pilot] bids from Liverpool, Sheffield, [and] a couple of other places”. Meanwhile, in Scotland, a basic income feasibility study is being developed, involving the localities of Fife, Edinburgh, Glasgow and North Ayrshire.
More information at:
André Coelho, “United Kingdom: Guy Standing presenting report “Piloting Basic Income as Common Dividends”, Basic Income News, May 6th 2019
Ashley Cowburn, “General election: McDonnell vows to present Labour’s most ‘radical’ manifesto with universal basic income pilot”, Independent, November 11th 2019
Ashley Cowburn, “Labour set to include pilot of radical basic income policy in next manifesto, John McDonnell says”, Independent, July 31st 2018
André Coelho, “Scotland: How the Scottish Citizens Basic Income Feasibility Study has been evolving”, Basic Income News, March 31st 2019
John McDonnell, Labour MP and Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer in the UK, has revealed that the Labour Party has established a working group to investigate universal basic income. Guy Standing, cofounder of BIEN, will play a key role in drafting their report.
Speaking directly to Basic Income News, Standing explains:
“I have been invited to become an economic adviser to the Labour Party, and in particular to John McDonnell, the Shadow Chancellor (effectively, the Opposition finance minister). He has asked me to help prepare a detailed strategy report for framing a basic income and enabling the Labour leadership to present a plan for implementing a basic income as part of Labour’s long-term economic strategy.”
In an interview with the Independent, McDonnell explained that the Labour Party intends to use this report as the basis for a tour around the UK to discuss the idea with the public. In the interview, McDonnell highlights the parallels between the idea of basic income today and that of a universal and unconditional child benefit before its introduction in 1975:
“I was involved in the early campaigns many years ago on the development of child benefit – at that point in time there were all sorts of anxieties about whether you could bring forward a benefit for everybody that wasn’t based upon an assessment of need and we won the argument. I think child benefit is like one of the foundation stones of a future basic income.”
This development follows Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s announcement last September that his party would research universal basic income, and McDonnell’s own positive comments regarding the policy earlier that year.
Jonathan Reynolds, MP and Shadow Economic Secretary to the Treasury City Minister, has been named as the leader of the working group, a politically savvy move given that he himself identifies as a moderate within this currently sharply divided party. He wrote favourably about basic income for the New Statesman last February, and made the point that public support for state welfare could be bolstered by following the model of the much-loved National Health Service (NHS) – that is, by making sure that it “provides something for everybody”.
The basic income working group will present its results before the next general election, scheduled for 2020. While the Labour Party is currently trailing the leading Conservatives in the polls, not least due to divisions within the party since the election of Corbyn as its leader in 2015, the British political landscape is currently highly unstable given the unforeseeable effects of Brexit. Indications that some form of basic income might be included in Labour’s election manifesto, then, are significant.
Ashley Cowburn, “Labour sets up ‘working group’ to investigate universal basic income, John McDonnell reveals”, Independent, 5 February, 2017.
Kate McFarland, “UK: Labour Leader to Investigate Universal Basic Income”, Basic Income News, 15 September, 2016.
Kate McFarland, “UNITED KINGDOM: Labour Party to look into Basic Income”, Basic Income News, 6 June, 2016.
Jonathan Reynolds, “How I learnt to stop worrying and love Basic Income”, New Statesman, 17 February, 2016.
Reviewed by Kate McFarland
Photo: John McDonnell; CC 3.0 by Percivale Productions
In the run-up to the Goa Assembly Elections that took place on 4 February, the Goenchi Mati Movement (GMM), which advocates for mining reform to fund a citizen’s dividend, gained the support of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and the Goa Su-Raj Party (GSRP). Its work was also endorsed by British MP John McDonnell on a recent visit.
As previously outlined on Basic Income News, the GMM advocates mining practice reforms in Goa, India, based on the principles of environmental custodianship and intergenerational equality. An aspect of its proposal involves the investment of mining revenues into a permanent fund, to be used to finance a citizen’s dividend – a type of basic income.
The GMM asked politicians and parties contesting the Goa Assembly Elections of 4 February to endorse their manifesto, which is here available in both text and audio, in multiple languages. It also implored voters to only support those who have adopted the manifesto’s aims, as listed on their Election Tracker. The results of this election will be announced in March.
In a press release, Claude Alvares of the GMM and director of the related Goa Foundation said:
“It is a significant step that two political parties in the fray in the February 4 election have written to the GMM accepting the Goenchi Mati proposals for mining. This is a sea change in the way politicians are now seeing mineral resources, that they do not belong to mining lease-holders or the government, but to the people of the state, poor and rich. It’s about time law and political activity reflects this basic constitutional promise.”
The AAP has been making waves in recent years for its anti-corruption principles and actions. With a name that translates as “the Common Man Party”, it enjoyed a surprise victory in Delhi (of which its leader, Arvind Kejriwal, is now chief minister). The GSRP, whose name is translated as “the Goa good governance party”, also focuses on corruption issues at a regional level.
John McDonnell with Rahul Basu and Claude Alvares of the GMM. Credit: goenchimati.org
Indicating that support for the GMM is not limited to India, John McDonnell, Labour MP and Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer in the UK, met with the main designers of the GMM on a visit to Goa over Christmas.
McDonnell’s visit was prompted by the Goans in his constituency of Hayes and Harlington, who requested that he consider the GMM’s proposal. Among those he met were Alvares and Rahul Basu, director of the Goa Foundation research cell specifically dealing with intergenerational equity issues.
The GMM reports that McDonnell expressed his interest in exploring the potential for a similar proposal in the UK. Quoting McDonnell:
“I wholeheartedly compliment the GM campaign for the originality of its proposals. I am studying with my team of expert advisers the potential for their implementation in the UK in the near future as well. The innovative and creative approach by the GM campaign to addressing the increasingly pressing issue of intergenerational equity is truly inspiring.”
Basu has previously written for the Citizen’s Income Trust about the lessons the UK might learn from the GMM. In that article, Basu outlines the general principles of a citizen’s dividend derived from natural resource revenues:
“states should a) ensure that they receive the full value of the minerals being extracted, b) set up a Permanent Fund in which all mineral receipts can be deposited, for the benefit of future generations, and c) as this fund belongs to the people, the real income (after inflation) generated by the fund should be distributed equally to every citizen as a commons dividend, a Citizen’s Dividend. This is like a Basic Income, or a Citizen’s Income, except that the funding source is income from the commons, and the amount can vary from year to year.”
Other actions GMM have been involved in recently include a Change.org petition and a song which, according to the GMM website, “relates to the aspiration of millions of Goans worldwide, that of saving the land that is so dear to our hearts. It gives traction to the thought of saving our land, and to discuss the real and secure future of Goa for our children.”
The Goenchi Mati Manifesto
The Goenchi Mati Movement Election Tracker
Roxanne Coutinho, “PRESS RELEASE: Goenchi Mati Movement announces support from GSRP & AAP”, The Goenchi Mati Movement, 18 January, 2017.
Kate McFarland, “GOA, INDIA: Mining reform group releases Manifesto, calls for citizen’s dividend”, Basic Income News, 24 November, 2016.
Kate McFarland, “GOA, INDIA: Citizen’s Dividend promoters find support in Archbishop’s address”, Basic Income News, 10 January, 2017.
Prakash Kamat, “Environment high on Goan agenda”, The Hindu, 21 January, 2017.
Roxanne Coutinho, “PRESS RELEASE: British MP and Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer meets Goenchi Mati Movement (Goa)”, The Goenchi Mati Movement, 13 January, 2017.
Rahul Basu and Deepak Narayanan, “Viewpoint: What can we learn from a campaign for zero-loss mining in Goa?” Citizen’s Income Trust, 3 August, 2016.
Reviewed by Cameron McLeod
Photo: Goa, India, CC 2.0 by @SunishSebastian
Andrew Little at WelTec. Credit to: Stuff.co.nz.
Following the lead of countries like Finland, Netherlands and Canada, New Zealand is now making its first steps towards a basic income. In a recent Stuff news article, Andrew Little, leader of the Labour Party, the second largest party in the New Zealand’s parliament, says Labour is considering a basic income. This interest is mainly motivated by the rise in structural unemployment, which guarantees profound changes in how New Zealanders work. Automation and precariousness of employment, self-employment and new business models are all affecting the way people work, and these structural changes occupy a central place in present day Labour Party concerns.
Indeed, the Party made these concerns – as well as the possibility of a basic income to address them – central to its Labour’s Future of Work Conference, which took place earlier this week, on the 23rd and 24th of March. The Future of Work Commission has released two background papers on universal basic income, one of which can be found here. This paper, by researchers Max Harries and Sebastiaan Bierema, analyses basic income in general and in the New Zealand context, also mentioning that a pilot programme could be an important first step into a future fully-fledged basic income implementation.
What Labour Party leaders in New Zealand will do, it’s hard to say. However, Keith Rankin, a New Zealander author who has written about basic income, highlights some possibilities in a recent article. These possibilities are similar to other basic income tax reform ideas presented, based on income tax redistribution. Keith proposes taxing income from both labour (work wages) and land (property) at a rate between 33 and 37%, and redistributing that money to all adult residents.
More information at:
Blake Caryton-Brown, “Labour leader Andrew Little promises debate on universal basic income”, Stuff.co.nz Politics, March 14th 2016
Chris Weller, “New Zealand is debating a plan to give people unconditional free money”, Tech Insider, March 14th 2016
Keith Rankin, “Universal Basic Income and income tax reform”, Briefing Papers, March 22nd 2016
André Coelho, “Miguel Horta: “Negative Income Tax in Portugal [Negative Income Tax em Portugal]””, Basic Income News, June 3rd 2015
New Zealand Labour Party, “The Future of Work” website.
Max Harris and Sebastiaan Bierema, 2016, “A Universal Basic Income for New Zealand”, Proceedings of the Conference The Future of Work, New Zealand
John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor of the Labour Party, has said that the party wants to look at the idea of universal basic income, according to an article in the Independent.
In a public lecture at the London School of Economics on 16th February, McDonnell stated:
It [a universal basic income] is an idea we want to look at. Child benefit was a form of basic income so it’s not something that I would rule out.
McDonnell has been known as a supporter of a universal basic income, but this is the first occasion he has introduced the idea in public since becoming shadow chancellor.
Credit picture CC Don Shall