Welcome to the One Nation Labour debate on LabourList

November 12, 2012 12:01 am

Today is the launch of the One Nation Labour debate on LabourList. Mark very kindly offered me the opportunity to edit the site for this week. I’ve asked 50 contributors to write about One Nation Labour and the three themes of the policy review – the economy, society and politics. It’s part of the big conversation we need about the future of our country. I’d like as many people as possible to join in. So please  write your comments and give your opinion on the articles published. We will be working very closely with LabourList on the review over the next few months.

Labour only wins when it speaks for the country and when it offers hope in the future. So the policy review I’m leading is about developing Labour’s nation building story. Its about family and home, obligation and neighbourliness, and about improving living standards and creating a more democratic and moral economic system.  We are countries of different cultures, strong regional identities and many roots, under one nation. So the idea of a modern citizenship is central to Labour’s story about our land and heritage and the common life and history that we share.

The policy review is about turning the story into the development of rigorous, stress-tested policy. Whether it is about childcare, or developing vocational education, policy turns the story into real change that will create a better society and economy and improve people’s lives. Our goal is not simply to beat the Conservatives and win in 2015, but to be an effective reforming government.

David Cameron became leader of the Conservative Party in 2005. He began to detoxify the Tories and gave a series of speeches on a pro-social politics. He came up with the idea of the Big Society. I think it was  a good idea, but he made the mistake of believing that the laissez-faire capitalism of Margaret Thatcher had solved Britain’s economic problems.

When the financial crisis broke in 2008 the Conservatives did not know what to do. The economy they had taken pride in creating had proved to be self-destructive. Instead of meeting the challenge, they went back to the past, embracing the laissez faire orthodoxy of Thatcherism. Without a strategy for jobs and growth, Cameron’s Big Society capsized and sunk. His strategy for renewing the Conservative party went down with it. The vacuum is quickly beingfilled by free market zealots, climate change deniers and Europhobes. The Conservatives are now in danger of becoming a more  reactionary and divisive party. The initial Cameron strategy has failed. He has hit the rewind button, lost control of his party and is losing the common ground in politics.

But  Camerons failure and the extremism of large parts of the Conservative Party do not guarantee that Labour will win in 2015. Ed has made it clear in his conference speech that we are not going to sit back and wait for the Tories to implode.  The ambition of One Nation Labour in the decade ahead is to build a Britain in which everyone has a stake in our society and democracy,  where a productive wealth creating economy shares prosperity, and where we conserve our  common life by valuing and improving the institutions that bind us together.

The work programme of the policy review is about producing policy to achieve this ambition. It means  understanding the country we are living in and addressing people’s priorities. It is about having a dialogue with people about the values they live by and about the kind of society they want to live in. It is about creating a more open kind of politics in which people feel they have a stake, and it is about a Labour party that becomes a campaigning and active movement. One Nation Labour is ambitious. We will succeed with your support and involvement.

Build from the bottom up.

Create strong local relationships and coalitions.

Discuss ideas. Meet, organize, and join in this debate.

Thanks.

Jon Cruddas is leading Labour’s policy review – and will be Guest Editing LabourList this week

  • Dave Postles

    ‘Left Turn to Catholic Social Teaching?’ doesn’t resonate with me (BBC Radio 4).

  • http://twitter.com/bencobley Ben Cobley

    I’m all in favour of this agenda from Jon Cruddas, but can’t help thinking how it needs to include the Labour Party itself as a crucial component – and as not just a campaigning organisation but a social one too. As much as I would like us to be one, we are nowhere near being a One Nation party. The politics of favouritism and patronage dominate our processes, and our internal workings are dominated by the operation of power blocs like the unions and Women’s Network who play divisive, antagonistic politics (understandably, since that is what they are there for). The Party seems to act though constant compromise and negotiation between these interest groups and it will make it difficult to frame a One Nation narrative that makes sense in this context. Another way of putting it is we need to set an example of what it means to be a One Nation party rather than just saying we are and hoping that people don’t notice how we are not.

  • Steve Pocock

    The ‘one country’ that Labour needs to engage with is England. There is a strong social democratic ideology throughout the ‘Celtic’ fringe of these island as there is in much of the north of England. Indeed the last election proved there was a strong anti market philosophy throughout southern England as well if you tot up the anti tory vote. The Lib Dems advocated many socially democratic policies in their manifesto earning them over 6 million votes. So Labour could and should look to England as the key to the one nation agenda. Westminster is the corrupting centre of the UK establishment which you appear to be sucking up to. It is a virtuous circle to itself and to the detriment of the rest of us. It draws in all you politicians, bankers, company’s,civil servants etc., perpetuating the cycle. Then you pour out colonising the rest of us with your wads of dosh buying up second homes Londonising us and looking to make it ever easier to draw the nations brightest into your web. In middle England we are left with a bunch of anti European anti forward thinking rabid nationalist idiots that sit on every parochial council going ensuring GOP ideas perpetuate. Have faith in the workers (or would be workers) these days by giving England its voice. There are enough of us quietly out here who gave up as New Labour sucked up to the City and all things market. You will retain your one nation UK if you give us England.

  • http://twitter.com/julesevans77 Jules Evans

    > “Build from the bottom up.

    > Create strong local relationships and coalitions.

    > Discuss ideas. Meet, organize, and join in this debate.”

    OK, where do I go?

  • Daniel Speight

    Instead of meeting the challenge, they went back to the past, embracing the laissez faire orthodoxy of Thatcherism.

    Seems not only in the Tories, there are plenty in the Labour Party who need to be convinced that neo-liberalism isn’t the answer. We could start with Alistair Campbell and Tony Blair.

  • Open_Palm

    In a true One Nation, there shouldn’t be a Them vs Us. From immigration to tax to welfare, too often a picture of two factions is painted to support the case for/against either “them” or “us”. It will be interesting to see how this divide can be traversed in the form of policies.

  • http://twitter.com/PeterKenyon Peter Kenyon

    Dear Jon

    Thank you for the invitation. You say:

    “The work programme of the policy review is about producing policy to achieve this ambition.”

    Could you explain how this related to the Labour Party’s official policy making processes?

    Many thanks in advance

    Peter Kenyon
    secretary, City of London Labour Party

  • PaulHalsall

    May I suggest that Labour needs also to make an offer to single people. We are a large and growing part of the demographic.

    I agree that families need to be supported, but a lot of that support comes from the taxes of single people without dependants. I agree that such taxes should be levied, but single people are singularly left out of political discussion. Perhaps it might be worth looking at what just happened in the US, where single women in particular turned hard against Romney.

  • JeevanJones

    This is a very welcome step. I look forward to reading the articles and views put forward, and it’s heartening to see the Labour leadership taking an active part in debating and reforming the party’s policies.

    Massive kudos to Jon Cruddas for opening up the discussion. It’s absolutely imperative Labour shapes the One Nation project to not only be something that’s electorally successful, but something that works.

  • http://www.facebook.com/andy.harvey.940 Andy Harvey

    Labour needs to find again our commitment to civil liberties, social as well as individual freedoms, and to recast our thinking of criminal justice as one that protects our communities and not to stigmatise them as anti-social. This requires a new relationship with the police and other authorities that is supportive yet critical. It also means moving away from an agenda that is driven by the Daily Mail. What do people really want? Safe and supportive communities or another lurid ‘crackdown’ headline in the papers?

  • Jack Whitehead

    Building One Nation will involve individuals sharing their stories of how they are living their co-operative values as fully as possible. Labour Party activists, including Jon Cruddas could lead this process of creating a social movement based on the co-operative values of the Labour Party. You can access narratives of individuals living their values as fully as possible on http://www.actionresearch.net .

  • Pingback: Different and better, or same old New Labour « A National Conversation For England()

  • AlanGiles

    I think as we reach the middle of this long, long week, where so many are getting misty-eyed as writers see how often they can pop “One nation” into their articles and article titles, it’s time for a music break. I humbly, nay, flagrantly dedicate this song to Uncle Jon and his merry men:

  • Open_Palm

    Forgive me for stating this so bluntly but all these repetitive use of the words “One Nation” can, believe it or not, become grating. Cringe-inducing even. Yes, I said it.

    Without risking turning it into a jokey catch phrase of the “Not Bovvered” or worse still, the “Go Compare” ilk, I humbly suggest the great thinkers here on LabourList find alternative phrases that would convey their One Nation ideals just as effectively. Over repetition can give the impression that the person saying those words does not fully comprehend the idea, hence his/her inability to articulate them with alternative terms that convey the same meaning.

    So far I have yet come across a clear, concise breakdown of the core elements of One Nation-ism (although Tristam Hunt came closest, to be fair). Some One Nation articles even have the feel of fitting square pegs into round holes about them. What *are* the core tenets of One Nation-ism? How would you explain it say, to a builder/farmer/mechanic?

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