Accessibility links

Last night I attended the Red Tory/Blue Labour event put on by the wonderful School of Life. Philip Blond talked on behalf of the Red Tories and Maurice Glasman on behalf of Blue Labour. I won’t go into too much detail now as I will be posting on this in the next few days.

Last night I attended the Red Tory/Blue Labour event put on by the wonderful School of Life. Philip Blond talked on behalf of the Red Tories and Maurice Glasman on behalf of Blue Labour. I won’t go into too much detail now as I will be posting on this in the next few days.

 

What interested me most was where the two sides agreed, not the dividing lines they tried to draw.

 

The agreement seemed to be on:

 

  1. Deciding on the ‘common good’ should be the first thing political parties do, and all policies should serve it.
  2. Civic capacity should be enhanced and play a greater role in solving social problems and creating stronger social bonds.
  3. Localism should be encouraged.
  4. Corporate structures need to change to allow for greater civic capacity (time off for volunteering, more cooperatives etc.).
  5. Britain needs to reinvigorate the ‘real economy’ - small and medium sized businesses should be supported and encouraged and so should  prosperity-creating businesses apart from the financial sector.
  6. Monopolies, both state and private-sector, need to be broken up.

 

The Labour party won the 1997 election with ten manifesto promises. These more turbulent times give an opportunity to be more radical. But also, what is crucial is that the policies are coherent – that they add up to the ‘common good’ for which both Red Tories and Blue Labour are arguing.

 

The problem with New Labour is an incoherence which has now been laid bare, a series of incompatible methods and aims. These are the most important badly matched pairs:

 

1. Unfettered markets and social democratic principles.

2. Lower inequality and higher social mobility achieved through individual choice in public service usage (the middle classes just get all the best ‘choices’ through buying houses close to good schools etc.).

3. Market competition and excellence in public services – you get postcode lotteries, the private sector creaming off the easy medical procedures, and anyway, the very idea of a bad school or hospital to be avoided through choice should be anathema.

4. Centrally set targets and excellence and empowerment in health and education.

 

Given all this, here are my five policies to win the next election and hopefully make Britain a better place to live (some are a bit vague but you'll get the idea). As I don’t think you can set a common good through politics alone, but also have to let people create it, these policies are designed to enable just that. Some of them consist in repealing legislation rather than introducing it, but that is no bad thing.

 

  1. A national civil service for eighteen year-olds, with only those joining the armed forces exempt. But the twist is, this would be locally delivered. Each area would devise and constantly tweak what service is done for their community through local democracy. In one fell swoop local government gets reinvigorated and a national ethos of civic responsibility is engendered.
  2. Break up private-sector monopolies (both supermarkets and banks) by including social impact measurements in competition law.
  3. Create a People’s Bank, based on the Post Office, that only invests in the real economy and whose structure is devolved.
  4. Invest in a green revolution of localised power generation. The endpoint of green politics should be the closure of the National Grid, and the creation of local grids that are much more efficient and sensitive to local power needs and sources.
  5. Scrap targets and competition in Education and Health. Instead, involve charities and community organisations as much as possible in creating excellence based on the ability of the professions.

Comments

Be the first to write a comment

Please login to post a comment or reply.

Don't have an account? Click here to register.