Jon Cruddas has already revealed Labour’s policy priorities (and the Policy Review timetable) – but no-one noticed

February 8, 2013 8:48 am

Yesterday I wrote about the most crucial part of Jon Cruddas’s keynote speech on Wednesday night – the importance of a movement in driving policy – but I haven’t yet looked at the timetable for the Policy Review which Cruddas alluded to. In fact on closer inspection – he basically spelled the whole timetable out…

Most people have focused on the final dates that Cruddas put on the different sections of the Policy Review. He made it clear that the review would shift to a “second phase” after Labour Party conference this year. I think it’s safe to say that second phase will be heavily reliant on the “movement” that I talked about yesterday. He also made it clear that conference 2014 will see the Policy Review move into its final phase, with the development of a pledge card and – in 2015 – the manifesto.

But re-reading the speech and his comments afterwards it appears there’s more clarity to the Policy Review than some (me included) have given credit for.

This was the clearest statement to date about the policy review and how it will play out. Here’s how the timetable now looks:

First phase  – now until july 2013. Get July in your diaries. This is when the “first draft” of the policy review will appear. That’ll be a clear indication of Labour’s policy priorities two years out from the election. (Cruddas also alluded to those early priorities – see below) In other words – we get what might be considered the first draft of Labour’s manifesto in July of this year.

Second phase – October post conference until july 2014. Here the first draft moves into becoming the final draft in July before Conference 2014. And if there’s a solid policy platform in place by then – could that mean the policy priorities being ratified by a vote at conference or a ballot of members? (Like Blair did before 97)

Third phase – October 2014 until may 2015. This is when it gets serious and the Policy Review documents become the manifesto.

More interesting still is that Cruddas said – and this hasn’t been picked up so far – that the timescales, responsibilities and deadlines been agreed and then listed the actual work in progress. So – according to Cruddas himself – the Labour Party is currently working on policy around:

  • bank reform
  • infrastructure
  • housing
  • transport
  • a modern growth agenda
  • reform of the energy market
  • Europe
  • welfare reform
  • immigration reform
  • crime, policing and justice
  • childcare
  • adult social care
  • citizenship
  • constitutional reform
  • a new devolution settlement
  • reviving local government
  • the balance between liberty and security

These are the areas on which Labour will be producing a first draft of the policy review in July. If this is the case, there will be a palpable sigh of relief throughout the party – especially as the Tories begin to hone their argument about Labour spending millions of public money and not producing any policies. That Cruddas has already outlined (at least) 17 different policy areas suggests otherwise.

This really does raise the stakes and could reassure parts of party worried that not enough work is going on. On the contrary – this all sounds rather substantial.

If so, the question really is – are the shadow cabinet members stepping up to the plate? Hasn’t Cruddas – whether intentionally or otherwise – revealed the work in progress and raised the bar for his colleagues around the shadow cabinet? (I hope so, because some of them are completely anonymous – and need to pull their fingers out…) And if Cruddas has done all of this on purpose – is he trying to smuggle out a more transparent policy process?

Long frustrated party members and activists across the country will certainly hope so…

  • chris rivers

    I did not see a mention of education, nuclear disarmament, legal aid, social work or restoration of the NHS. I guess constitutional reform could include bringing in PR/AV to local elections. New devolution settlement could maybe mean DevMax for Scotland if it fails to vote for independence in 2014?

  • http://www.facebook.com/annblack50 Ann Black

    Thanks for this – all very interesting, and news to the national policy forum, which has been asked to focus on the following ten areas:

    * The housing crisis: house building and a private rented sector that works for Britain’s families
    * Vocational education, apprenticeships and the role of job guarantees in tackling youth unemployment.
    * 21st Century NHS and social care: delivering integration
    * Protecting workers: including the role of agency workers, the living wage, and GLA
    * Tax avoidance: tax havens
    * A British Investment Bank: making it a reality
    * Childcare: what matters to parents and children?
    * Our buses and railways: giving communities more of a say
    * Young people and politics: making a fresh start
    * Britain’s role in a post 2015 development vision

    All very worthy, but missing out huge swathes of the policy agenda – nothing on welfare, nothing on broad economic priorities. And I notice that neither list includes what to do about the fragmented school system which Labour will inherit in 2015.

    Do you know how members can contribute to the policy review?

    Ann Black

  • http://www.facebook.com/annblack50 Ann Black

    Thanks for this – all very interesting, and news to the national policy forum, which has been asked to focus on the following ten areas:

    * The housing crisis: house building and a private rented sector that works for
    Britain’s families
    * Vocational education, apprenticeships and the role of job guarantees in
    tackling youth unemployment.
    * 21st Century NHS and social care: delivering integration
    * Protecting workers: including the role of agency workers, the living wage, and GLA
    * Tax avoidance: tax havens
    * A British Investment Bank: making it a reality
    * Childcare: what matters to parents and children?
    * Our buses and railways: giving communities more of a say
    * Young people and politics: making a fresh start
    * Britain’s role in a post 2015 development vision

    All very worthy, but missing out huge swathes of the policy agenda – nothing on welfare, nothing on broad economic priorities. And I notice that neither list includes what to do about the fragmented school system which Labour will inherit in 2015.

    Do you know how members can contribute to the policy review?

    Ann Black

  • David Pavett

    This is really useful. I have been trying my best to follow the Policy Review (so-called since it does not seem concerned to ‘review’ policies) and have found it virtually impossible to know what is going on. As for the timetable Jon Cruddas seems to say different things to different audiences. He told a Compass meeting last December that Labour Policy for the next election will be decided in the next six months (recording of his talk is on the Compass website). And the extraordinary thing is that none of this timetable information is on the Your Britain website. How can this be? The whole thing is a dog’s dinner and seems to follow the familiar lines of keeping information so sparse that virtually no one (and maybe it really is no one) knows what is going on. Whatever this is it is not informed debate.

    As Chris Rivers says the list of topics for the first phase is notable (alarming) for what it excludes (arguably for what it includes too). How can it be that education is not there? Gove is rampaging through the state education system with virtually no opposition from Labour as Stephen Twigg’s performance in the Commons yesterday made plane for all to see. There is nothing substantial on the Your Britain Hub on education. Just what is going on? It looks very much like the old trick of holding back until there is insufficient time for an informed debate and then ploughing ahead with policies that members feel they have to accept because there is no alternative.

    I can only hope that members, CLPs and affiliated bodies will come up with educational policies for the Review because the signs are pretty strong that they are not going to come from the Shadow Cabinet.

    P.S. I noticed that education was also missing from the Labour List/Cruddas booklet on on One-Nation Labour.

  • David Parker

    Jon Cruddas speech is imaginative and encouraging. There are some strange omissions. One is the NHS although Andy Burnham is one of the most visible members of the Shadow Cabinet. More worrying was the absence of any reference to Education given that the leadership has failed to make any worthwhile response to the rapid fragmentation of secondary education and the concomitant undermining of local government which Cruddas suggests is to be revitalised. His rather throw a way line about not handing everything back to the state is not particularly helpful. It was the combination of a desire to micro-manage and some authoritarian reflexes which led New Labour astray not the State in itself. We are now seeing an unprecedented destruction of the public sector by a vast expansion of outsourcing which a Labour government will have to reverse if is serious about community and democratic accountability.

    • Jeremy_Preece

      I would have to agree. The assumptions of Progress for example about the role of the state may actaully have passed their sell by date. The idea that there is no public desire ever to see another nationalised industry might have seemed obvious in ten years ago but if you were to ask most rail commuters.
      I am ashamed to say that in my previous comment I forgot the NHS, but yes that is a hell of an ommission.

  • Jeremy_Preece

    As someone standing in a local election this May I wonder whether there is enough indication, or enough in the Labour “shop window” to allow the electorate to see what Labour stands for.

    I have two concerns here. First there seem to be some major omissions, legal aid and vocational training to me being the most obvious. Ann Black’s list and that of JC seem to be a bit different. I hope that these are simply just lost in the translation. Which brings me to my other point.

    Second and more seriously, we seem to have had a major speech with very important messages in it and those messages required an interpreter to dig out the meaning from the verbiage. That for me does not bode well, and I hope that future communications will be a tad more accessible to ordinary party members and the public alike.

  • MarkHoulbrook

    A welcomed comment from Ann Black. Refounding Labour, Policy Review, Partnership in Power and National Policy Forum. offered Labour Party Members the opportunity to participate in meaningful discussion. It is clear that through the CLP structure and the area forums it has quite worked liked it has been sold tom members and labour supporters. Angela Eagle’s belief in virtual reality discussion through an on line portal (Your Britain website) where ideas are allegedly chosen or ignored but never acknowledge, is no substitute for REAL local debate at grassroot level.
    Refounding Labour. (Arnie Graf) has created an imbalance at local level, Footsoldiers graft and some CLP heirarchies play virtual reality with little or no real community involvement. It is fast becoming a party of One Nation Two Tier

    One Nation
    double speak philosophy – New Labour, Old Labour, Blue Labour, Ed Milibands
    Labour. What people are asking is where the policies and ideas from Labour members. The disatnce between grassroot members and supporters is more distant now than anytime under Blarite dogma.

    Two Tier Labour Party

    1. A party of career politicians

    2. A party of grassroot community activists

    TWO TIER LABOUR
    PARTY.
    My advice would be to let the grassroots ordain and develop policy from the bottom up. Ed Miliband said he wanted to end managerialism in the party, Jon Cruddas et al created it.
    Change is coming.

  • Monkey_Bach

    Meat or horse meat? You decide! Eeek.

  • Daniel Speight

    Yet in a way what Cruddas and others are trying do is far more important to Labour than coming up with immediate policy initiatives. The neo-liberal economic ideas followed by the previous governing Labour leadership and much of PLP had taken the party off the tracks of social democracy to such an extent that the party could no longer claim to be social democrat in even the Roy Jenkins and SDP definition of the term.

    It was not policies that Cruddas needed to supply the party with, but some core beliefs of what social democracy looks like in the 21st Century. Once he supplies that and gets some agreement for it inside the party, policies will flow fairly easily.

  • AlanGiles

    Perhaps if Mr Crudas put things more plainly, instead of all his word-spinning, and his obvious smug self satisified would-be intellectual posturings, people might have more idea of what he means (assuming he knows himself).

    Never mind: There’s probably a book in it somewhere. Remember the old yellow and black” each Yourself” books published by Hodder and Stoughton?. How about “Teach Yourself Gobbledegook”

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