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18.11.14

Closing Labour’s deficit

I had this in the current Progress magazine.

The Conservatives may not have won the last general election but Labour lost it. Labour was thought too keen on spending other people’s money, particularly in areas where the public are least keen to see their money spent, such as working-age welfare. As the Labour leadership candidates were reaching for the party’s erogenous zones, which are rarely associated with fiscal discipline, George Osborne was trashing Labour’s record, which was supposedly so disastrous that an ‘emergency budget’ was deemed necessary. This budget anticipated a surplus by the next general election. Tough commitments on welfare and immigration also quickly emerged.

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27.09.14

The politics of mutualising the NHS and reviving National Insurance offers Labour a big opportunity

I had this on Labour Uncut in response to an essay by Frank Field MP.

In March 1992, 22 per cent of voters thought the Conservatives had the best policies on the NHS. 52 per cent thought Labour did. This didn’t stop the Tories winning the general election two months later. This experience should caution us against seeing the lead that Labour currently enjoys on the NHS as sufficient to secure Labour general election victory. Labour’s trust and popularity on this issue is not a passport to election victory. But it is a political asset that might be deployed to create such a passport.

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27.09.14

Uncut Review: Ed Balls’ speech

I had this on Labour Uncut immediately after Ed Balls’ speech.

Soon after Ed Balls finished speaking to conference, Hopi Sen restated to a Policy Network fringe the core thesis of Into the Black Labour, which he co-authored: social justice and fiscal conservatism are complements. Sen praised the robustness of the fiscal rules that Balls proposes for a Labour government. But feels the party has not gone as far in explaining the practical steps that would be necessary to satisfy these rules. Balls’ speech did not take us greatly forward on this front.

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11.04.14

Embracing the contributory principle for public services is how Labour’s offer can be big, bold and affordable

I had this on Labour Uncut earlier this week.

In early January, Uncut reported on Andy Burnham’s “defining vision for health … pooling central government health budgets with local authority social care budgets to offer a joined-up approach to looking after our elderly. It makes eminent sense but carries with it a big uncosted price tag”.

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10.05.09

Where now for Labour?

The Sunday Mail reports that support for Labour has fallen to 23 percent – the lowest since opinion polls began in 1943. If Labour polled this badly at a general election, the party would lose 200 seats to the Conservatives, who would hold a massive, carte blanche majority of 220. The survey was also the first to record that the majority of voters want Gordon Brown to stand down now as PM.

These are desperate times, indeed, for Labour and while the expenses revelations “will hurt the reputation of all politicians”, argues Andrew Rawnsley, “the damage is likeliest to be greatest to Labour at the next election”. Another poll supports Rawnsley’s view. There have been many highs and lows under PM Brown. But each low seems lower and more desperate than the last one. I didn’t think it was possible to go any lower than the McBride affair but recent days have probably managed it.

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21.04.09

David Cameron's government of all the talents

Gordon Brown began his premiership by giving us his government of all the talents. Is David Cameron eager to present his version? He has already recruited David Freud, a former Labour advisor. Now Jonathan Isaby suggests a place should be found for Frank Field in a Cameron government, while Matthew Parris makes the case for Andrew Adonis. Are these to be repackaged, as Lenin did not quite say of George Bernard Shaw, as good men fallen amongst Brownites? Perhaps, Isaby and Parris are testing the water for Cameron to attempt such a move? There is unlikely to be any great rush to be the Quentin Davies of any future Cameron administration. But Digby Jones could probably make himself available, if Cameron gets desperate, particularly if sacking half the civil service is on the agenda, which it might be.

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21.04.09

David Cameron’s government of all the talents

Gordon Brown began his premiership by giving us his government of all the talents. Is David Cameron eager to present his version? He has already recruited David Freud, a former Labour advisor. Now Jonathan Isaby suggests a place should be found for Frank Field in a Cameron government, while Matthew Parris makes the case for Andrew Adonis. Are these to be repackaged, as Lenin did not quite say of George Bernard Shaw, as good men fallen amongst Brownites? Perhaps, Isaby and Parris are testing the water for Cameron to attempt such a move? There is unlikely to be any great rush to be the Quentin Davies of any future Cameron administration. But Digby Jones could probably make himself available, if Cameron gets desperate, particularly if sacking half the civil service is on the agenda, which it might be.

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22.01.09

Philanthropy for a new era of responsibility

Frank Field can have some funny ideas, such as a national government – with Peter Mandelson, Ken Clarke and Vince Cable in charge. However, his proposal of a new higher rate of tax on the super rich, which could be totally off-set against charitable giving, merits more serious consideration. This “new philanthropy” seems entirely in tune with Barack Obama’s “new era of responsibility“, with its hope “that the responsibility of giving would take root as the super rich helped existing charitable bodies, set up their own foundations, or back foundations of friends or people they admired, rather like Warren Buffet’s support for the Gates Foundation”.

Indeed, “the aim is nothing less than a revolution in our society”, inspired by government nurturing “a new giving culture. While Governments have a key role in kick-starting a giving habit, the aim is for the new philanthropy to become a habit which is socially prized. It is a plea for moving from regulation to once again of making giving on the widest possible scale an affair of the heart”.

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07.12.08

Barbarism begins at home

Interesting stuff from Tim Adams in the Observer on the Matthews case. He notes:

“One of the ironies of the Matthews case … is that it has given a brief insight into just how difficult the job of a child protection officer might be. Matthews not only duped her social workers over the years, she duped the entire media and the whole country, who scrutinised her every move for more than a month. Channel 4 Dispatches made a documentary in her house during the weeks of the hunt. Those same observers who so roundly condemned the Haringey case workers were completely suckered by her lies.”

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