Coffee House

Another Tory says there’s a ‘strong case’ for raising the minimum wage

8 January 2014

This lunchtime, Treasury minister Sajid Javid said there is a ‘strong case to look at’ raising the minimum wage, joining Matt Hancock as a Conservative minister prepared to say in public that there is a case for doing so.

Amusingly, the Lib Dems are annoyed that the Tories have stolen their policy (in part 3 of the party’s New Year resolution to find a new thing about their coalition partners to complain about every day).


But if the Lib Dems getting upset that the Tories are stealing a march on their fairness agenda is really the biggest problem with this wage increase, then the Tories should be quite chuffed. It always astonishes me that the Conservatives don’t get more annoyed that their Coalition partners like to preen about occupying the moral high ground: it can’t just be that all Tories are modest as like all politicians most of them are very good at boasting about other things. Perhaps a bit of fighting over who is the fairest of them all wouldn’t be a bad thing.

It’s also worth noting that though there are a fair few Tories who think that raising the minimum wage is anything but fair because of the impact they fear it would have businesses’ ability to hire more staff, they’re staying pretty quiet at the moment. There was some consternation among viewers of Newsnight yesterday when Mark Reckless, the right-wing Tory MP who looked as though he had been invited on to have a grump about the damaging effects of a rise, told the programme that he had been wrong to oppose it previously and that it would be a good thing:

‘I would 10 years ago have said no to [an increase in the minimum wage] for the same reason I opposed it, which is because I was concerned it was going to cost jobs. I think the evidence has not borne that out as much as was fit and I think two very important things have changed, and that is one it would actually save the taxpayers’ money because of the extent to which the taxpayer is topping up low wages through tax credits.’

So while there is still an economic debate in some quarters of the party about whether or not a rise might impact on employment, the political debate has clearly changed. It is not dissimilar to the realisation in the Labour party that its campaigning against the right-to-buy was a political loss, with Thatcher winning the ‘champion of aspiration’ tag.

More Spectator for less. Subscribe and receive 12 issues delivered for just £12, with full web and app access. Join us now.

  • paulus

    The Lib dems the perogative of the harlot throughout history. Ive always said without a minimum wage the employer is receiving a subsidy from the tax payer. I would have thought this was self evident, and gives an unfair competative advantage against employers who do.

  • Magnolia

    This has to be right because it must be wrong that the state has to subsidise low paid jobs where earners need tax credits and housing benefit to survive.
    That is no different to the state choosing any other kind of business to support and we all know that leads to a failure to develop successful businesses in the long term.
    A living wage should be a conservative principle but defined on our own terms and it should not co-exist with working benefits.

    • AnotherDave

      If you increase the minimum wage, you make it harder for low skilled workers to find a job.

      • Magnolia

        That might be so initially and so it would have to be handled very carefully and slowly but they would eventually become skilled because their and our livelihoods would depend on it.

  • AnotherDave

    “…the UK employment picture for the most vulnerable has deteriorated rapidly since the introduction of the minimum wage.

    … the research overall points to the minimum wage reducing employment as conventional economic theory predicts. In other words, the minimum wage undermines employment for the least productive whilst raising wages for others.”

  • AnotherDave

    The personal tax allowance, and the tax credit system seem to have the same aims.

    I think it would have been better if HMG had phased out the tax credits system, as they increased the personal tax allowance.

    • HookesLaw

      If tax credits were based on take home pay then it would have that effect. Are they?
      There would seem some logic is saying increasing minimum wages would save on tax credits and there seems to be no hard evidence that it has affected inflation or jobs. Even an increased minimum wage will be pretty low. it would be good if there was some agreed relation between average wage and the minimum and then we could stop playing politics with it.

  • Hexhamgeezer

    Shouldn’t that be

    ‘Another ‘Tory’ says there’s a ‘strong case’ for raising the minimum wage?

    • telemachus

      The vicar needs you
      You can go back to sleep

      • Hexhamgeezer


  • telemachus

    We laud this
    We look to a commitment to the living wage

    • Alexsandr

      stop spending other peoples money.
      do something useful. go and get a proper job.

    • Hexhamgeezer


Can't find your Web ID? Click here