Looking back (and ahead)

November 17, 2011 2:43 pm

Labour’s storming victory at the first by-election of the parliament in Oldham East seems a long, long time ago. It was just after that Ed Miliband gave his speech to the Fabian New Year conference.

Looking back now, it’s clear to see how much of what happened in 2011 for Labour was sketched out in this speech. Talking to a packed hall of Fabian members, Miliband set out the three challenges Labour must face to win back power.

The first challenge was the need to understand why our economy has stopped working for the majority of people. This line of argument showed clearly the thinking that led to the good/bad capitalism theme which formed the centrepiece of Miliband’s conference speech. This theme is now at the heart of political debate. From Peter Oborne to the Occupy LSX movement – discussions about the failure of our economic system and its effects on people are taking place across the political spectrum.

As well as the economy, Ed Miliband set out two further challenges in that speech: How to move away from managerialist policy-making and reconnect with our communities; and moving politics away from vested interests and renewing our democratic spirit.

The Blue Labour agenda – one of the most colourful internal Labour debates – was precisely about the need to reconnect with communities, and the Fabian Society continue to be at the heart of this discussion. How we reengage locally without dismissing the important role that the active state can play will be a major focus for the Fabians and the Labour Party in the coming years.

The challenge of taking on vested interests was seen no more clearly than in the phone hacking scandal. Miliband’s capturing of the public mood over the summer gave the ultimate platform to this central challenge which is now a central part of his economic message. Vested interests and asset strippers have been identified as part of the problem. Renewed democratic participation and wealth creators are some of the solutions we now explore. Whether this was in the Refounding Labour process or laying out the challenge for taking on monopolies in the energy industry – the agenda was set out back in January.

Today, as we reach the last few weeks of the year, the news is that we are to miss our deficit reduction targets, while youth unemployment has hit 1 million, and we hear murmurs of contagion fears in the Eurozone crisis. The coalition said there was no alternative, but one is very much needed. It is against this backdrop that we prepare for Fabian New Year Conference 2012: The Economic Alternative, where Ed Balls and a host of other leading commentators will set out their stall on what that alternative should be.

How we engage with the big questions on the economy are now the key to being seen as a credible government-in-waiting. Once again, if you want to be at the heart of the debates driving Labour in 2012 – there is no better place to start than the Fabian Society New Year Conference.

An extended version of this post can be seen at Next Left. Tickets for the conference are available here.

  • Anonymous

    I’ve a feeling the majority of the public would like to see less immigration to the UK, but not in any way shape or form what Blue labour wanted. I mean Labours open door let them pile in was totally wrong, May is in trouble for allowing  people in, but Jesus she has a long way to go to meet New labours immigration.

    But I think the public would say why did you not  do something about the firms when you spent thirteen years in power, do not tell me Labour is a different party, it’s not it still has a lot of the New labour Blair-rites in positions.

    Labour plans on welfare is well known, Labours idea on social housing is well known, Labour idea on  working for benefits is well known, and when you put it together it very much in the same vien as the Tories all your saying now is spening and borrowing is the answer, and I doubt a nation who is trying to repays it debts want to hear right now is a labour party saying go on borrow another 100 billion.

Latest

  • News Margaret Hodge backs David Lammy in race for London Mayor

    Margaret Hodge backs David Lammy in race for London Mayor

    Last month Margaret Hodge announced that she was no longer in the running to be Labour’s candidate for Mayor of London. In an interview with the Evening Standard, Hodge indicated that she would be supporting a minority ethnic candidate for Mayor, saying: “I actually think the time is right for us to have a non-white mayor. London is a diverse city but we are poor at representation. But let’s wait and see what the candidates say they can do for London.” […]

    Read more →
  • Comment Labour’s immigration policies are excellent – we need to champion them on the doorstep

    Labour’s immigration policies are excellent – we need to champion them on the doorstep

    The pistol has been fired and the race has begun. For many Labour activists door knocking and phone banking has become a regular part of evenings and weekends as the fight to return a Labour government on 7 May intensifies. Over the past few weeks two topics of doorstep conversation have leapt out at me. One is the passion felt by people of all ages, particularly the older generation, for the NHS. The second, predictably, is public concern over immigration. […]

    Read more →
  • Comment Make National Community Service compulsory

    Make National Community Service compulsory

    Last month David Cameron called for all 18- to 21-year-olds who have failed to find a job or a place in training to be forced to undertake community work. Under Tory plans those aged between 18 and 21 who have not had a job for six months will be barred from claiming benefit unless they agree to start an apprenticeship or complete community work. The plan is designed to ensure that the 50,000 young people “most at risk of starting […]

    Read more →
  • News London Mayoral candidate attempts to crowdfund cost of campaign

    London Mayoral candidate attempts to crowdfund cost of campaign

    Labour candidates for Mayor will be trying to fund their campaigns in all manner of ways – but Christian Wolmar (the transport expert who joined the race first and remains the only candidate who isn’t an elected politician) has gone down the crowdfunding route. Wolmar is trying to raise £3,000 for his campaign by next week – and has currently raised nearly half of that sum. Although as with all crowdfunding, he must raise the whole sum or he gets […]

    Read more →
  • News “State sanctioned abuse” has taken place Yarl’s Wood, says Cooper

    “State sanctioned abuse” has taken place Yarl’s Wood, says Cooper

    Yvette Cooper, the Shadow Home Secretary, has asked an urgent question in the Commons about abuse allegations at Yarl’s Wood. Yarl’s Wood is an immigration detention centre that opened in 2001. Ever since then guards (who come from private company Serco, which runs the facilitiy) are have faced serious accusations that there has been ongoing mistreatment of the people detained in the facility. This includes reports of sexual abuse and degrading treatment. On Monday, Channel 4 aired a documentary which had […]

    Read more →