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