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

8th February, 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…

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