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After a nasty street riot in Bristol concerning the construction of a Tesco Metro Ed Miliband decided a nice anti-Tesco soundbite would get him a little coverage in the national media.
“Local people should have more say over what happens on their high streets,” he said, promising a policy review. He knows that some people fear that all high streets look the same. On the other hand, Tesco has not achieved a 30 per cent market share by enslaving people. Shoppers generally vote with their feet and choose to shop at Tesco.
However, at the same time the FT dusted down and published a report from the Institute of Government that showed that academics rate the minimum wage as the most successful policy introduced by government in the past 30 years. The smoking ban comes 10th on the list, behind devolution, privatisation and the Northern Irish peace process. And just ahead of free museum entry and free bus passes.
What were the strengths of the minimum wage? It started at a low level and built up. And because it allowed government to pay in-work benefits to ensure that low paid work was worthwhile and employers did not use benefits to cut wages.
What makes for good policies? Something that is planned carefully and not knee jerk. Start small and build up. Independent shopkeepers in Mr Miliband’s constituency (Doncaster North) should visit his surgery and see if he can build his remarks into something more worthwhile. Be quick. Tesco has probably already invited him out for lunch to help shape the policy review.
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