Tomorrow’s FEPS-Fabian new year conference comes at an important time for British politics. The fate of the Prime Minister will inevitably be the first question on everybody’s lips. Keir Starmer, Rachel Reeves, Anas Sarwar and other members of the Labour top team will be on hand to give their verdict on the imploding Boris Johnson regime.
But Fabian events are always about policy as much as politics, and with Labour now ahead in the polls the party needs to start to set out its prospectus for government. Keir Starmer has already promised a contract with the nation based on security, prosperity and respect. We can expect his speech tomorrow to begin turning these principles into specific ambitions for domestic policy.
The party does not need hundreds of small-scale policy pledges that voters will not remember. But it must show that it has clear principles and aims for each of the major issues facing the country. This is an opportunity: when Labour talks about policy, it can do so with confidence. YouGov polling for the Fabian Society published today shows that the public prefers Labour to the Conservatives on 17 out of 24 major political issues we tested. Conversations about content suit the Labour Party.
Saturday’s conference will address the key challenges facing the left. In all, we’ve come up with 14 of them, and there is a session dedicated to each one. Once Labour has convincing answers to each challenge, it will be a long way closer to being prepared for power.
Importantly, all 14 are challenges that face parties of the left right across Europe, and the conference will include perspectives from other countries as well as the UK. We are deliberately seeking to combat the insularity that has been growing as a result of Brexit, now that UK politics has lost its everyday contact with European debates. As a sign of this, the event is jointly organised by the Fabians and the EU think tank, the Foundation for European Progressive Studies.
The Labour politicians who will seek to provide answers include Jonathan Ashworth, Olivia Blake, Liam Byrne, Bambos Charalambous, Anneliese Dodds, Vaughan Gething, Kate Green, Daniel Johnson, Darren Jones, Roy Kennedy, David Lammy, Justin Madders, Kerry McCarthy, Jeremy Miles, Chi Onwurah, Jonathan Reynolds, Anas Sarwar, Karin Smyth and Wes Streeting. Together, they will have a lot to say.
The 14 challenges – in the UK and across European countries – are how we can:
- Build a strong economy for all
- Combat the climate emergency
- Counter populism, nationalism and division
- Reduce inequalities in income, wealth and power
- Educate people for the future
- Create shared good health
- Prepare for technology to transform society
- Respond to global risks
- Support family and care
- Sustain good work
- Eliminate discrimination and structural inequality
- Strengthen fairness and solidarity across generations
- Manage migration
- Secure power for parties of the left