Ed Miliband's chance to help Britain's poor


edmilibandCongratulations to Ed Miliband for winning the leadership of the Labour party. I disagree with him on many key issues, but I think that he genuinely wants to make Britain a better place for the poor, and his victory is a chance for him to take another look at the right policies to do so.

Mr Miliband says he is committed to improving Britain’s health service to ensure high-quality healthcare for all. This is admirable – and achievable, but only if he is willing to think outside the box. Singapore’s system of healthcare, which combines private health savings accounts with catastrophic health insurance coverage, guarantees world-class healthcare for even the poorest Singaporeans within a free market system.

Similarly, liberal reforms in Chile’s pension system and the Dutch education system have given those country’s poorest people ownership over the public services that are provided to them. This has increased the independence of the poor in these countries and given them more opportunities to make better lives for themselves and their families.

Liberal market reforms need not be the preserve of right-wing politicians. New Zealand’s economy boomed under the free market reforms of Roger Douglas, a Labour politician. The previous Chilean government, under the Socialist Party’s Michelle Bachelet, preserved that country’s market-based public services model after accepting that it favoured the poor.

Britain’s poorest have more to gain from economic growth than anybody else, and they are most vulnerable to failing public services. If Mr Miliband is serious about helping the poor, he should take a leaf out of other successful left-wing politicians across the world and focus on public service reform that offers choice and flexibility to the poor by taking the state out of people’s lives. There isn’t really such a thing as right-wing and left-wing policies, just good and bad policies – Ed Miliband now has the chance to make a break with the past and propose reforms that would really help the poor.