Whenever I mouthed off as a child my parents encouraged me, in a kindly manner, to always practice what I preached. Today, I hope every member of Labour's front-bench will do likewise.
Uppermost in the minds of us labelled as the left of British politics is the victory of Syriza in yesterday's Greek general election - a victory for hope. The speed with which it concluded negotiations this morning to form a government - one hour - reinforces that message.
Syriza's leader, Alexis Tsipras, has taken political ambition to new heights, by taking on both the global neo-liberal and the Greek establishment. We all owe him heartfelt thanks. In comparison, the British Labour Party's ambitions are ambiguous to say the least.
Most recently, its shadow works and pensions secretary, Rachel Reeves, is quoted in today's Guardian newspaper applauding the London Borough of Brent for its innovative plan to cut the business rates bill for accredited Living Wage employers within its boundaries.
Speaking at the launch, she reportedly said:
“I want councils across the country to follow Brent’s lead by cutting business rates for companies who pay their staff a Living Wage. It’s a brilliant idea to tackle low pay which is good for everyone - workers, employers and taxpayers.
“It’s a scandal that one in five people who does the right thing, works hard and contributes, doesn’t earn enough to pay their bills. Low pay is driving up the benefits bill and leading to more Tory Welfare Waste and is making it harder to get the deficit down, with income tax receipts across the Parliament £70 billion lower than forecast in 2010.
“A Labour government will tackle low pay by raising the Minimum Wage to at least £8 hour before 2020, bringing in Make Work Pay contracts to get more workers paid a Living Wage and banning exploitative zero-hours contracts.”
Not a word about Labour's own pay policy towards the public sector other than a measly commitment to lift the National Minimum Wage (NMW) to £8/hour before 2020. Correction, that is a slight improvement on the original wording which was 'by 2020', revealed in an interview with the Observer published on 20 September 2014.
The standfirst for that piece proclaimed:
Labour leader says he would raise minimum wage to £8 by 2020 in move that 'reveals core party values'
Those of us with economic degrees know that you don't need one to know that inflation is likely to propel the NMW towards £8/hour by 2020, if not before. That, emphatically in my view, does not reveal core Labour Party values.
Core Labour values demand a more ambitious policy towards pay. The preaching has got to stop, until a coherent pay policy is agreed. Any journalist that misses the opportunity to challenge Labour Party spox about this should go straight back to journalism school.
I set out the case for a more ambitious approach over three months ago here. It is increasingly embarrassing to have Labour Party spox encouraging businesses and local government to adopt living wage policies, but remain silent about public sector pay in central government and other public bodies.
Labour must be honest with the electorate and show that the cost-of-living crisis is going to be tackled head on in, as Labour Leader Ed Miliband said in his New Year message, a 'Recovery for All'. That could be the start of offering real hope to UK voters.