5 things we’ve learned about One Nation and Labour’s next manifesto

19th November, 2012 8:17 am

Last week Jon Cruddas Guest Edited LabourList, which was an informative experience (and not just in the sense that I had to let go of the site for a week). The contributions that he commissioned showed the range and depth of thinking around Labour’s policy review, and the idea of “One Nation” (a phrase which, like some of you, I’ve seen more than enough lately).  However, what we don’t have yet is a clear set of Labour policies for 2015.

But amongst the pieces that Jon commissioned here last week, there were a few hints as to what might make Labour’s next manifesto.

Here are 5 things we learned last week about One Nation and Labour’s next manifesto: 

Housing – firstly, you don’t choose Jack Dromey as your shadow housing minister unless you want to construct a serious number of houses, so we know Ed Miliband takes housing seriously. But Dromey’s piece last week showed the depth of feeling on the issue, the magnitude of housing crisis and the extent to which Labour now understands it (including the party’s past failings. We should expect a Labour government to commit to a significant house building programme – in the high hundreds of thousands at least. 

Relational welfare – the idea of “relational politics” won’t be new to anyone who has followed the work of Blue Labour (and particularly Maurice Glasman) closely in recent years. It’s the strongest element of the work that London Citizens do, for example, but people had begun to ask how the relational could be made into policy. I still think it’s tough to codify relational solutions to national problems, but with IPPR’s relational state gaining real traction it’s clear that some concrete policy will come from this area. The best place to look? Perhaps relational welfare – as outlined by Hilary Cottam – with local communities working together to provide welfare support. We should expect trials of a more relational form of welfare support – taking (some of) welfare out of the hands of the state. 

Not so Eurosceptic – Ed Miliband may be saying “hard headed” things on Europe at present, and much has been made of Jon Cruddas’s previous calls for an EU referendum, but last week should have taught us to distinguish between criticism of the EU and the “better off out” tendency. Last week Jon Cruddas described a post entitled “Being One Nation doesn’t mean we should stand on the sidelines of Europe” as a “great article“. Labour wants a better Europe – but wants to stay in Europe. We might expect an EU referendum call – but for Labour to campaign stridently to stay in Europe. 

A more compassionate Labour Party – for me, the most affecting post of Jon’s Guest Edit was by my friend Sue Marsh, a truly heroic character who has fought not only her own condition, but a cruel system that attacks and discriminates against disabled people like her. Her post on the reality of disability, and the reality of where Britain stands on disability, felt like something of a watershed moment for Labour. I’ve been posting Sue’s heartfelt (and often heartrending) posts on LabourList for two years now. For such a post to be commissioned by the man behind the next manifesto made me proud to be Labour. We should expect a more compassionate welfare system that more adequately differentiates between disability an long term worklessness. 

One Nation (a home for more than just Labour) – perhaps the most surprising aspect of the last week for me (and to be honest, the most disconcerting) was seeing posts by a Lib Dem (Richard Grayson) and a Tory (Phillip Blond). Of course neither are particularly happy in their current parties at present, and obviously saw an opportunity to shape the debate within Labour. That they were happy to do so (on a Labour blog, commissioned by a Labour politician) suggests that One Nation can be more than just a slogan around which the Labour Party can organise – it can be a banner under which members of other parties can march too. We should expect a reassertion of One Nation ideas within other parties – and/or defections of “One Nation” politicians from other parties to Labour.

The end of Jon’s Guest Edit of LabourList doesn’t mean the end of One Nation on LabourList – we have a few more posts, commissioned by Jon Cruddas, to run throughout this week…

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