Ed Miliband’s speech at the 2011 Labour Party conference majoring on the need for a more responsible form of capitalism attracted predictably sharp criticism from the right-wing media, but also met with a nervous reaction from sections of the Labour Party that have become allergic to radical economic ideas.
Read the second part of Jon Wilson’s argument here.
We need a plan. Politicians need an idea of where the country is going in the next few years, and who needs to do what to get there.
In this series of posts, I’ve argued that Labour needs to speak the language of the people to put hope back into our politics.
A crisis of confidence seems to stalk the West, unemployment remains high and just recently the ILO warned that youth unemployment will remain stubbornly so until at least 2016.
A victory for the people. A government that listens. A well-functioning and healthy democracy where the concerns of ordinary citizens are taken on board and a policy programme that’s reflexive and responsive.
These will be the sort of things trotted out over the next couple of days. And no, you haven’t missed a vital piece of news.
Read the first part of Jon Wilson’s argument here
For hope to be possible, political leaders need to show how they and the people can make things better together. We, in the Labour party, have lost the ability to do that. We don’t talk about how things really happen.
On the 20th of September 2011 Chris Grayling made the assertion that our benefits system was in such a state that it attracted ‘benefit tourists’, immigrants who come here in order to sponge off our welfare system.
I met a man on the doorstep a year ago. He had a decent job in the railway industry. But with the cost of living rising, he was working seven days a work to keep his family afloat. He was angry that City bankers were paid millions after messing up the economy. Politicians, of every party, had just handed them more cash.
We talked for half an hour.
If Europe’s leaders really want to avoid the calamity that would ensue with a Greek exit from the euro it is time for a radical new policy prescription.
Europe’s elite have adopted three main approaches to tackling Europe’s economic malaise, each as flawed as the next. The first is to force severe austerity on countries struggling with high debts.
During Thought for the Day on Thursday 24th May the Dean of Trinity College, Cambridge addressed the problem of the loneliness and isolation of the elderly in today’s society, particularly in urban areas. Especially emblematic of this, argued Dr Michael Banner, was the fact that so many elderly people eat alone day after day.
This week, for those who might have missed it, Business Secretary Vince Cable was described as a ‘Socialist,’ for daring to suggest that you shouldn’t just be able to summarily sack an employee almost at random.
The suggestion, or at least something very close to it, had been made in the Beecroft Report, produced by Tory Party donor Adrian Beecroft.
One of the Coalition’s most popular – or at least defensible – policies is the increase in the personal tax allowance. Perhaps the least ‘omnishambolic’ move in the March budget was the raising of the income tax threshold to £9,205.
Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg have both used this week to fire the starting gun on a debate over social mobility. Both, for different reasons, want to push past a focus on tuition fees.
There have been a few stories on our boys in blue these last few weeks. The march by off-duty officers was received with a sort of curiosity by much of the union movement, as was their treatment of the Home Secretary. It’s like seeing the beagles start growling at the huntsmen.
A firm and unequivocal commitment to standing up for civil liberties will not win Labour the next election. But, they should make one anyway.
If there’s one issue which the party badly lost its way on, it was this one.
This week is a global week of action for Robin Hood Tax campaigners, and we’re taking our message to G8, G20, NATO and OECD governments, as well as the European Parliament and an EU leaders’ summit, where new French President, Socialist Francois Hollande has tabled the Financial Transactions Tax for discussion.
As Duncan Weldon highlighted in his article on Shifting Grounds, No end to the ‘squeeze’ in sight, the recent fall in the headline rate of unemployment has largely been driven by an increase in part-time employment. Whilst a part-time or temporary job is better than no job, the instability these jobs can bring signifies a problem for long term growth.
Sitting around texting, watching crap films on telly, napping half the day away and drinking four glasses of wine before two. It sounds idyllic. In Francis Elliott and James Hanning’s new book ‘Cameron: Practically a Conservative’, we get a tantalising insight into the interior life of the prime minister and how he unwinds of a weekend.
It is intriguing to think that, dramatically, the future of the West depends on the future of the country where the West itself was born.
The decision of whether Greece will stay or leave the Eurozone will have a tremendous impact on Europe and on the United States of America.
In 1999, Tony Blair made what was a quite remarkable commitment: to end child poverty in the UK.
It was one of the boldest and most ambitious pledges made during the whole New Labour era. It came after nearly 20 years of rising child poverty rates that saw almost 1 in 3 children living in poverty.
There is no problem. Go back to bed, Britain. We have enough police, and we’re freeing them from paperwork! They’ll be out on the streets in no time. That’s if we haven’t taken an axe to their jobs.
So goes the new rhetoric on police cuts.
Read the first part of Rachel’s argument here.
Ed Miliband and the Labour party have begun to develop a new agenda that’s about building an economy that works for working people, and advances a common good we can all recognise.
‘Transforming capitalism’ is a phrase that goes to the heart of the questions raised by the financial crisis and its aftermath: questions about inequality and irresponsibility; about the values that underpin our economic system; about the kind of society we want to live in, and the kind of lives we want to lead.
Just when he thought it was safe to oppose alone, carving out his own narrative and winning over exiled lefties, along come some unexpected cheerleaders. The New Labour crew have returned, piggybacking on Ed Miliband’s (or more accurately, Labour’s) recent surge in the polls.
I get riled when people – even those of a libertarian bent – claim that ‘responsible capitalism’ necessarily means ‘more red tape’.
Responsible capitalism should be an economic system in which property rights are properly protected. It should provide individuals with maximum freedom to take decisions over how their lives are managed.
In 1884 the prolific American inventor Thomas Edison built the world’s first industrial research laboratory at Menlo Park in New Jersey. The centre applied Fordist mass production techniques to the task of innovation, and was soon generating a rapid conveyer belt of new ideas for trial and testing.
In a previous post, I wrote in favour of a model of public service based not on a transaction, “service-user” model, but on selfless commitment to one’s neighbour. It is surely to be lamented that such an ethos has disappeared from so much of the public sector (with, certainly, notable exceptions).
I seem to have started a debate, and since debate is always healthy, I am grateful to you for responding at length to my post last week on why I’m not a fiscal conservative.
You are curious about why I chose to comment on your paper, In the Black Labour (ITBL), six months after its publication.
Ed Miliband has made ‘fairness in tough times’ a major theme of his leadership. The leaders of the other major political parties have also sought to lay claim to the ‘fairness’ mantle. They are right to suppose that much of the unfairness in our society can only be tackled at a national – or international – level.
Golden Dawn now sit in the Greek Parliament. The National Front achieved their highest ever vote share in France.
Yet in Britain the BNP vote collapsed last week, with all their councillors up for re-election going down to defeat, and the party coming last in the London mayorals.
Once taboo, the label ‘conservative’ is suddenly in vogue on the left.
Read the first part of Marc’s argument here.
When we think about the people who we most admire in our own lives, we turn almost always those who have a cause. We are continually inspired by those who commit their whole being to something that matters deeply to them.
“Oh, no, I don’t vote.” That’s how people chose to respond to the BBC’s Allegra Stratton’s enquiry as to why they didn’t participate in last week’s elections. Not, “I didn’t have the time” or “I didn’t like the candidates” or even just “I didn’t want to vote this time”. But “I don’t vote.
Well it’s all just a bit of a mess, isn’t it? A drubbing up and down the country on election day, approval ratings smashing through the floor so quickly it’s threatening the stability of the building and a relaunch that was more damp squib than high-octane reboot.
The Labour Party did pretty well last Thursday – but first, the obligatory caveats.
A marriage of convenience consummated on the Downing Street lawn in May 2010 gave birth to Britain’s coalition government. Arm in arm, two parties united in its commitment to wipe out the budget deficit within the term of a parliament.
Yet a vow to bring stability to the country has morphed into ideological zeal.
Boris Johnson has won the mayoral crown, once more defeating Labour’s Ken Livingstone. And rumour has it that Kelvin MacKenzie is betting £1000 at 10/1 that Cameron will leave this year with Boris taking over as Tory leader.
In the ongoing debate on how to handle the UK’s public sector deficit, one side of the equation – ‘the tax-take’ – has been mostly ignored. Yet, over the last thirty years an increasing number of rich countries have been hitting an apparent limit on their ability to raise revenue through taxation.
Last week’s news that, in one Edinburgh ward, the Lib Dems received fewer votes than a candidate dressed as a penguin probably best illustrates the extent of their local election defeat.
Read the first part of Jeremy’s argument here.
One rainy winter’s afternoon a few years ago, I found myself in a large 19th century townhouse in the chic 17th arrondissement of Paris, interviewing a Gaullist city councillor about the upcoming European elections.
‘Vous verrez, Antoine; dans quelques années ils feront comme si je n’avais jamais existé…’ (‘You’ll see, Antoine; in a few years they’ll act as if I never existed…’) remarks the dying President Mitterrand to his idealistic young biographer in the Robert Guédiguian film Le Promeneur du Champs de Mars.
For a number of years now, local government has been stalked by a haunting spectre. It has threatened to start banging on the door of Westminster politics, and has made gains in European elections.
We all know how the expectations management game works at election time. You play down your own prospects while trying to set an unattainable target for your opponents. The Conservatives must have been congratulating themselves for persuading the media that 700 gains was a reasonable measure of success for Labour.
Read Leo’s arguments about shifting grounds in the manufacturing sector here.
As the the past generation’s political and economic settlement continues to slowly unravel, a newly human economics of planning, coordination and foresight must emerge.
Everyone – apart from Labour HQ, obviously – is talking up how well the party is going to do today. No wonder, the latest YouGov/Sun poll gives us a 10 point lead over the Tories.
There is a quiet but important discussion happening in Conservative circles: one that – although drowned out by pasties and grannies – could have important consequences for the next election.
Put short, it is a discussion about the role of the working-class in the ongoing, and still much needed, modernisation of the Conservatives.
UKIP outpolling the Liberal Democrats, victory for Respect in Bradford West, the BNP in Strasbourg, Britain’s first Green MP, an SNP government in Edinburgh, local elections that look set to point in several different directions at once. What’s going on? Two things, actually.
The standard narrative of British manufacturing tends to be one of blanket doom and gloom. For all the well-meaning if half-hearted attempts by Vince Cable to rebalance the geographical and sectoral basis of the UK economy, the despondence about lost manufacturing, and perverse class snobbery towards those who make things, continues to die hard.
As the tide of academies rises, the role of local education authorities in the democratic accountability of our schools recedes.
Read the first part of this piece here.
An increasing number of Labour politicians are using the term the common good.
There is a growing recognition that its emphasis on relationships, democracy, community and locality can address the problems of social fragmentation and popular estrangement from mainstream politics.
There are 2.65 million unemployed people in Britain. 1.7 million people are on the waiting list for social housing, while 2 million say they struggle to pay their rent or mortgage. I would not be the first person to point out that a mass programme of house-building would go some way to alleviate the unemployment problem.