As we watch the bedroom tax ruin lives, child poverty rise and the use of food banks go through the roof, we all know that the election in 2015 will be the most crucial we have fought for a long time. For people across the country, it is vital that we get our manifesto right and put Ed Miliband into number 10.
Tomorrow representatives from all parts of our party will converge on Aston University for the 2013 meeting of the National Policy Forum. As Chair, I am looking forward to what is an important step on the road to writing that winning manifesto.
We’ve got a lot on our agenda. On the Saturday, we will be finalising the policy papers on the ten areas which have been out for consultation all year. These cover a wide range of issues from young people and politics to tax avoidance, a British investment bank, housing and the integration of the NHS and social care. You can see all the papers here. On Sunday, we will be looking forward and discussing what we need to tackle in the next stages of our work, particularly how we can prioritise and deliver on Labour’s values in a constrained economic setting.
There is one thing that I hope will be clear from this weekend: the way that we make policy in the Labour Party is changing. We are making sure that our policy processes and structures are fully open, transparent and accessible for members and for the wider public. If we are to write a manifesto that speaks to people, then we need to listen to people as we write it.
Our new Your Britain website is revolutionalising how we formulate policy. Since we launched under a year ago, we’ve had hundreds of submissions and we’ve had Your Britain discussion events in every corner of the country. You can see for yourself the quality of the debate by having a look here.
But it isn’t just about structures, it is about a change of mindset too and that is where all of us come in. It is easy to fall back in to the habits of the past – whether that is giving in to cynicism, or falling straight in to opposition mode at the first sign of disagreement. We are not going to be able to agree about everything, we are not going to be able to have everything in the manifesto that we might want – but we are going to have a manifesto that we are all proud of.
I am determined that every member of our party feels like they have a stake in our policies for 2015. We’re going to build our One Nation manifesto from the grassroots up, and you are going to be involved every step of the way.
I’ll report back here after the NPF, and I’ll keep in touch throughout the process.