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25.11.15

Where is Liam Byrne headed?

Liam Byrne is nothing if not industrious. After a hotly contested by-election, a minister five minutes after becoming an MP. The hard work continued on the opposition front bench, even if he felt too Blairite to be in vogue during the Miliband years. When he might have been expected to back the more Blairite Liz Kendall, he enthusiastically supported Yvette Cooper.

Cooper outperformed Kendall but Byrne’s candidate was left to eat Corbyn’s dust, as a much changed party from the one that Byrne was first elected to represent was created. Back then Byrne was the poster boy for Blair’s ability to win by-elections in the face of impassioned campaigning by parties, the Liberal Democrats and Respect, opposed to the Iraq war. Now Labour has a leader who can seem to be willing Blair toward the Hague.

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25.11.15

What next for Labour’s moderates

Labour moderates need a new name (not Blairite or anything redolent of), philosophy (vintage in tapping into the same revisionist traditions as the Third Way, while also being thoroughly contemporary), and (having been comprehensively out organised by the left during the leadership election) structures. Apart from that, everything is fine.

Acknowledgement of these profound challenges is not original. David Butler stressed philosophy here. Spencer Livermore elsewhere. Liam Byrne even wants to emphasise it through a new Clause 4. And renewed organisational vitality comes from Labour First and Progress.

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27.08.14

Sofa government has ended in Scotland. This needs to happen in the rest of the UK

I had this on Labour Uncut a few weeks ago.

“When this is over, I am not going back to my sofa,” said a working class grandmother, who’d never previously been politically active, of the Scottish referendum. She made this remark to Robin McAlpine of Common Weal – “a vision of what Scotland can be if it rejects the failed Me-First politics that left us all in second place and instead builds a politics that puts All Of Us First” – and he reported it to BBC Radio 4 last week. The legacy of the referendum campaign, irrespective of its outcome, observed McAlpine, is the widespread popular desire for “a politics that involves us and which we get involved in”.

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13.07.14

Building inclusive capitalism

I had this on the Progress website this week.

The challenge of our age, wrote Chuka Umunna in the June edition of Progress, is to generate growth that is sustainable over the long term, balanced across sectors and regions, and inclusive so that all can benefit. This is not capitalism red in tooth and claw. Indeed, it recalls the definition of socialism offered by Bill Shankly, the legendary Liverpool manager: ‘Everyone working for each other, everyone having a share of the rewards. It’s the way I see football, the way I see life.’

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15.03.14

How Labour could improve on the Youth Contract

I had this on Labour Uncut last week.

The plan for Labour general election victory launched by Uncut at Labour party conference last year included identifying how to fund a radical Labour alternative. Making deeper cuts in certain areas to free funds to spend elsewhere. We identified £34bn of additional cuts to pay for free, universal childcare, 1 million new jobs in areas that need them most through a revived, regionalised Future Jobs Fund, and 1 million new homes.

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22.07.13

Labour’s European third way

I had this in the Progress magazine for July.

Mainstream Labour opinion has been pro-European since Neil Kinnock, as leader, made it so. Rarely, however, do Labour speakers join up the dots between the European Union and our policy objectives. We pride ourselves, for example, on being green but we hear little from Labour on what role the EU Emissions Trading Scheme should have in decarbonisation.

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15.04.13

The real lesson of Thatcher for Labour

I had this on Labour Uncut last week.

Toby Helm and Daniel Boffey wrote in the Observer, the day before Margaret Thatcher’s death was announced, under a headline of “Labour plans radical shift over welfare state payouts”. But did their article tell us anything about the party’s commitment to the contributory principle that Liam Byrne didn’t tell us in his speech on William Beveridge over a year ago? And did their article tell us anything about our jobs guarantee that had not already been announced?

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27.09.12

How Labour can win on welfare

I had this on Labour Uncut earlier this year:

Labour will win the welfare debate when we reassure the public that we believe in the responsibility to work and convince them that the government is too incompetent to secure the right to work.

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31.07.11

The blank sheet of paper that must go on and on

I had this on Labour Uncut last week.

It is acknowledged that people do not join the Labour party simply to deliver leaflets or attend uninspiring meetings. This tends to go along with support for giving members more say on policy. But parties are vehicles of change, not forums for mass therapy. Party debate is a means to the end of building the world that Labour exists to create.

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21.03.11

Win, lose or draw for Labour

I went to the Progress political weekend and wrote about it on their blog:

In two separate sessions at the Progress political weekend Douglas Alexander and Jim Murphy both said that Labour needs a draw on the deficit and a win on growth. Spooky. It was almost like they were singing from the same hymn sheet.

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21.03.11

Win, lose or draw for Labour

I went to the Progress political weekend and wrote about it on their blog:

In two separate sessions at the Progress political weekend Douglas Alexander and Jim Murphy both said that Labour needs a draw on the deficit and a win on growth. Spooky. It was almost like they were singing from the same hymn sheet.

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01.03.11

Cameron and Osborne are not for learning. King should know better.

I had this on Labour Uncut last week.

“Is not the lesson from the noble Baroness Thatcher that, when you have set an economic course, you should stick to it – ‘there is no alternative’”?

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