New meeting: What is the role of the state?

We know the state can do great things – just recently the NHS was voted the world’s best healthcare system. However with increased privatisation, an ageing population, the election looming and new models of services like relational welfare- we have to really think about a modern and empowering vision for the state.

So what common ground is there between those on the Centre Left about the role of the state? Join us to find out and be a part of the discussion in a joint event with Compass and Labour for Democracy.

What is the role of the state?

When: Monday, July 21st 7pm

Where: Committee Room 9 (Houses of Parliament- please leave half an hour to get through security)

Speakers:  Jon Cruddas MP (Labour Policy Review), Gareth Epps (Social Liberal Forum) Paul Blomfield MP (Chair, Labour for Democracy), Natalie Bennett (Green Party Leader)and Sue Goss (Compass, tbc) 

RSVP: rosie@compassonline.org.uk

Discussion summary: Who are our allies in building One Nation?

A discussion hosted by Labour for Democracy and the Fabian Society.

Chair: Paul Blomfield MP
Speakers: Yasmeen Akhtar (Three Faiths Forum), Sarah Hayward (Camden Council), Ruth Lister (Labour Peer), Martin O’Neill (University of York), Stuart White (University of Oxford)

Martin O’Neill (University of York) kicked off the event by arguing that the One Nation concept should have broad appeal; a more egalitarian economy, better regulation of financial services and work environments are objectives that appeal to a great number of people. It is the content of the One Nation project that should attract people to it. Rather than focussing solely on the question of what kind of support is needed to ensure that Ed Miliband is the UK’s next Prime Minister, therefore, we should also be asking how the One Nation Labour project can build democratic support over time. O’Neill challenged us to consider how we can create democratic institutions within the economy that will help bring about a more egalitarian settlement. A rebalancing of power from central to local government is certainly part of the solution. Worker representation on boards was another example cited by O’Neill of how we can ensure that the One Nation project becomes about dispersing democratic power within the economy, redesigning the economy from the ground up by creating or changing institutions, rather than simply looking at how the electoral system works every five years and contemplating how to secure a ‘One Nation majority’.

Stuart White (University of Oxford) talked about how party politics can link in with ‘horizontalist’ politics. Citing the Scottish Constitutional Convention as a possible model of coalition-building, White encouraged us to think about Labour Party engagement with religious and other civic groups, and initiatives like UK Uncut, Occupy and the ‘Spartacus’ campaign on the  rights of sick and disabled people. Horizontalist action can create the space for party politics, e.g., on inequality, and party politics has an important role to play to defend the space, sometimes quite literally, in which horizontalists operate. White stressed that the Labour party needs to be pluralist, open to what activist groups and others will bring and not pre-determine too much of the One Nation concept in advance, without this vital input.

Paul Blomfield MP (Sheffield Central) talked about the origins of Labour for Democracy and the need to find the pluralist way of making One Nation politics a reality. Blomfield argued that a Labour government in 2015 will have to meet big challenges in areas like social care, pensions and climate change without the dividends of the extraordinary growth that funded public investment after 1997. The tough decisions that we will have to be made, and the need to build wide support for radical change, demand a new approach to the way we do politics. Achieving the change we want, and embedding it beyond one parliament, means building the sort of progressive consensus that the 1945 Labour government achieved in the postwar settlement on the welfare state. Labour will need to reach out to others who share our values. Blomfield was confident that such an approach will find support from the public. Despite their disillusion with this coalition government, he argued, voters still yearn for politicians to work together and be less tribal.

Yasmin Akhtar (Three Faiths Forum) drew on her experience of working with young people of different faiths and indeed different political persuasions. Akhtar talked about the leadership programme run by the Three Faiths Forum, which places young people from different faith backgrounds with MPs for a period of six months – often representing a different political party from the one the young person had expressed support for! Akhtar warned against treating faith groups as homogenous and stressed the importance of faith literacy on behalf of those looking to build coalitions. Dialogue is key. Rather than trying to win an argument or garner votes, the Labour party needs to engage in genuine dialogue.

Councillor Sally Gimson (Camden Council) gave her perspective from working in Local Government. Gimson highlighted the way in which budget cuts have hindered progress and resulted in Councils having less bargaining power in trying to make One Nation a reality. Partnership working, or working with ‘friends’, as Gimson termed it, is on the increase – from residents supporting their local library to businesses creating apprenticeship opportunities. Gimson repeated the call for the decentralisation of power, stressing that Local Authorities need to be trusted and given the power to build One Nation, which would in turn increase trust on democratic politics.

Baroness Ruth Lister (Labour Peer and Emeritus Professor Loughborough University) argued that the kind of positive economic change talked about by Dr Martin O’Neill and Dr Stuart White requires a broad movement, which Labour must earn the leadership of. Lister talked about politics as mutual education and called for Labour to own the task of pursuing equality. The last Labour government did indeed take redistributive measures, but it did so by stealth. The time has come to show, or ‘earn’, leadership on this issue; organisations like Oxfam and the Equality Trust frequently publish evidence on inequality and its effects. Lister made the suggestion that Labour call an ‘Inequality Summit’ to listen to and learn from the activist organisations referred to by White, performing the bridging function between ‘horizontal’ and ‘vertical’ politics. Lister praised Ed Miliband’s Hugo Young lecture in which he stated that equality is on of the key polices which drives his politics.

Contributions from the audience covered issues of capacity within the Labour Party, the culture of the Party and its mission as an election-winning institution, the reluctance of charities and activist groups to work with political parties, the visceral response of some within the Labour party to the yes campaign during the Alternative Vote referendum in May 2011, the importance of Labour members ‘going out into the world’ to affect change and engaging with individuals and not just already-established groups.

The discussion took place on Wednesday 19 March 2014 in the House of Commons.

New Meeting: Who are our allies in building One Nation?

A discussion hosted by Labour for Democracy and the Fabian Society.

Wednesday 19 March 2014

18:00, Committee Room 6, House of Commons
 
Chair: Paul Blomfield MP
Speakers: Yasmeen Akhtar (Three Faiths Forum), Sarah Hayward (Camden Council), Ruth Lister (Labour Peer), Martin O’Neill (University of York), Stuart White (University of Oxford)
 
As we approach 2015, Labour will need to clarify its vision for One Nation to generate widespread support across Britain. In part that means turning One Nation from a set of ideas into a practical roadmap that provides long term solutions to issues like social care, pensions and climate change within a continued age of fiscal austerity.
 
But it also means achieving a very broad base of support which extends beyond traditional politics, just as Labour did before 1997. The party must work with people and movements who share many of our values and ambitions. But who are our allies in building One Nation?

Join in the discussion. To reserve a place, RSVP to events@fabians.org.uk

New meeting: Building on the Support for Progressive Politics: What the polling tells us

On Tuesday September 10th we’ll be holding our next meeting. Nick Pecorelli of the Campaign Company will be leading a discussion on ‘Building on the Support for Progressive Politics : What the polling tells us’. The meeting will take place between 6-7.30pm, in Committee Room 9 in the House of Commons.

The meeting will look at the fascinating research Nick has undertaken on where the support exists for Labour values across different groups of voters, leading into a discussion on how we can use that support to build progressive change.

We hope you’ll be able to join us, and please share the details of the meeting with other Labour supporters who you think may be interested. If you have any queries about the meeting do get in touch.

New posts about Labour for Democracy

Ahead of yesterday’s launch our Chair, Paul Blomfield MP, wrote a short piece for The Independent on how Labour’s history has often been of working with others for progressive goals.

Steve Van Riel also wrote a very thoughtful piece on “Leveson, Labour for Democracy and Lib-Lab co-operation” for The Centre Ground.

If you’ve got any comments on either piece, or if you would like to be kept in touch with Labour for Democracy, then please do get in touch with us.

Labour must not turn its back on pluralism – John Denham’s article for the New Statesman

In an article for the New Statesman website John Denham, one of Labour for Democracy’s founding supporters, has called on Labour not to turn it’s back on pluralism. In the article John says:

“This isn’t the easiest time to make the pluralist case. The Lib Dems’ governmental and electoral performance is hardly encouraging, and has revealed a culture at times as sectarian as anything Labour has to offer. Meanwhile, Labour is doing well, and, of course, every party activist will work as hard as they can for every Labour vote. It is tempting to see pluralism as a sign of weakness, a lack of confidence; even an unwanted attempt to give Nick Clegg a permanent and undeserved place in government.

“But we must be bigger than that. Tribal differences have obstructed progressive change in the past. Voter allegiances to the major parties are declining as fast as the icecaps are melting. There are even signs that the ‘progressive majority’ that split its vote in the 1980s is itself shrinking in the face of recession and insecurity.  If we want to change Britain in a progressive direction, Labour must show it is willing to work with, not just lead, everyone who will support all or part of that change.”

The article can be read in full at http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/2012/12/labour-must-not-turn-its-back-pluralism

 

Beyond Tribalism – Paul Blomfield’s article for Progress about Labour for Democracy

Paul Blomfield, Chair of Labour for Democracy, has written an article for Progress about why Labour for Democracy has been established. In the article Paul argues that Labour must work in a more pluralist way if we are to make One Nation politics a reality:

“Alongside the new economic settlement that is at the heart of the appeal of ‘One Nation’, we must provide long-term solutions to big issues like social care, pensions and climate change. As a new government in 2015, we will have to meet these challenges without the dividends of the extraordinary growth that funded public investment after 1997. The tough decisions that we will face, and the need to build wide support for radical change, demand a new approach to the way we do politics.

“Achieving the change we want, and embedding it beyond one parliament, means building the sort of progressive consensus that the 1945 Labour government achieved in the postwar settlement on the welfare state. We cannot achieve this sort of change alone. We will need to reach out to others who share our values.”

You can read Paul’s article in full at http://www.progressonline.org.uk/2012/11/30/beyond-tribalism/ 

Our Westminster launch – Tuesday 4th December

On Tuesday 4th December we’re holding the Westminster launch of Labour for Democracy. The launch will be in Room 17 in the House of Commons between 6-7pm (Please note the new venue from the one previously advertised).

The speakers at our launch will include:

  • John Denham MP – Former Cabinet and Shadow Cabinet member, and President of the Labour Campaign for Electoral Reform.
  • Vernon Bogdanor – Research Professor at the Institute of Contemporary History, King’s College London
  • Jessica Asato – Vice-Chair of the Electoral Reform Society and former Director of the Labour Yes Campaign
  • Baroness Ruth Lister of Burtersett – Professor Social Policy at Loughborough University
  • Neal Lawson – Chair of Compass
  • Andrew Harrop – General Secretary of the Fabian Society
  • Jess Garland –  Policy and Research Officer, Electoral Reform Society
  • Paul Blomfield MP – Chair of Labour for Democracy

The launch is open to all so if you would like to join us please get in touch via email at contact@labourfordemocracy.org.uk to register your place.