The headlines from the Labour Party conference at the weekend included a suggestion that they wanted to increase the minimum wage, as it had lost value in real terms over the last five years. An increase of 45p an hour was mooted. Ed Miliband seemed to row back from this somewhat on Sunday, floating some nonsense about different minimum wages for different sectors, and talking about increasing fines for employers breaking the minimum wage laws (no one gets fined now, so it’s not clear what increasing the fines would do). Ed Balls then mentioned raising the minimum wage in his speech today, so maybe it is on the cards.

This kind of talk leads to furious whingeing from big business about how raising the minimum wage would increase unemployment. It’s always couched in terms of small businesses being unable to afford to pay higher wages. But do they have a…

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