The recent meeting of the National Policy Forum was enjoyable and productive and it was a great pleasure to chair it. There is a real vibrancy and excitement within our policy process at the moment, and I want to thank you all for getting involved and sharing your ideas and experience.
Saturday’s job was finalising the policy papers, which were on the ten topics which conference asked us to look at last September. We debated changes to the papers, and you can read reports on the discussions and outcomes for each of the papers here. On the Sunday, we shifted our focus to look forward. We had wide ranging discussions on the next steps for the policy process and on how we can take the tough decisions we need to take in this constrained climate. Discussion ranged from fairness in the tax system, to social security reform and our education offer to 16-19 year olds. You can read short reports of each of the four discussion groups (economy, society, politics and international) here.
I was keen as chair to introduce some new things, so one of my favourite parts of the weekend was our policy speed dating session. Dozens of NPF reps pitched their ideas to members of the shadow frontbench, with a buzzer ringing every two minutes forcing them to move on and pitch their idea to the next shadow minister. It was really good fun, but it also revealed some really innovative policy ideas. The two winners of the session were Lara Norris with her suggestion of a local citizenship award, and an idea for a broadband infrastructure levy from Paul Evans. Paul and Lara will shortly be invited to pitch their ideas to the relevant policy commissions – and they might even end up in the manifesto.
We also had a best practice session where we heard about the brilliant work that NPF reps have been doing around the country. There have been hundreds of policy discussion events, and reps have been being really innovative in the way that they engage– in the South West, they ran a policy speed dating session with health care workers in between shift changes. Everyone has been using Your Britain to great effect, and we have seen a marked increase in the number of submissions to the policy process.
On Saturday afternoon we heard a powerful and important speech from Ed Miliband, where he said that our difficult economic climate does not mean that we cannot be ambitious with our offer to the public in 2015. He pointed to the remarkable achievements of the 1945 Labour government who built the NHS whilst also paying down huge debt. You can watch some highlights of his speech here.
The policy process is changing, and I hope representatives agree that this meeting of the NPF was further evidence of that. If you were at the NPF please do fill out the feedback form we’ve sent you – our aim is more improvements! I know that in the past, some people have felt like the policy process didn’t engage enough and didn’t listen enough. We’re working to change that, because we recognise that if we are to write a One Nation manifesto then we need to hear voices from all across Britain when we write it.
We want you to tell us what you think. Whether you have a comment on what we discussed at the NPF, or have an idea that you think should be heard – log on to www.yourbritain.org.uk and get involved in the debate.
I’ll keep you posted with the policy process as we move forward, but If you have any questions or want to know any more, please do get in touch (@angelaeagle or [email protected]). If you want to read more about how the policy process all fits together, have a read of this article that I wrote with Jon Cruddas a month or so ago.
Angela Eagle MP is Chair of the National Policy Forum and Shadow Leader of the House of Commons