An Ambassador in Belgrade once said: “There is only one organisation which allows Ambassadors the chance to meet formally once a week, it’s unique; no one other organisation does it.” That organisation spans 57 countries across the globe: The Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) covers over a billion people and is the world’s largest regional security organisation.
Growing up as a Muslim in this country means facing a unique combination of challenges. The Muslim identity is often seen in a negative light, thanks to the actions of extremists and a perception that Muslims isolate themselves from wider society.
In recent months, the Scottish independence debate has become the hottest of political hot potatoes. Passions are running high, with a recent ICM poll reporting that 21% of Scots questioned said discussions with friends and family had “degenerated into rows” (though this poll may not have taken into account the Scottish appetite for a good rammy).
Among Labour activists, and feminists in particular, it is a truth universally acknowledged that Cameron and Clegg refuse to promote the women in their parties. The accepted wisdom is that their front bench is almost entirely, and very deliberately, male, whereas ours has a much stronger gender balance.
Since the government’s welfare reforms came into effect, a family can now claim a maximum of £500 a week in benefits. It may sound a lot, being slightly higher than the UK average weekly wage of £449, but it won’t get you far in London. The average weekly rent for a family home in London is £379 a week, compared to £166 in the UK as a whole. When a home costs more than twice as much in London, does it make sense to cap benefits at the same level as everywhere else?
The recent controversy over the Uber taxi service has led to searching questions on the impact of technology on traditional industries and its effect on employment. It also challenges the centre-left to find meaningful ways to react to these changes. Every day we see the impact of technology on businesses, in apps like Uber, and even in our relationships with apps like Tinder. In retail, well-known supermarkets are expanding their use of technology at the expense of on-site workers in order to maintain profits.
Feminism is by its very nature the disruption of the status quo; it is truly radical politics that aim to completely transform society. For that reason, feminism is never going to be popular and it is never going to be a vote winner – it is a utopian vision that is ultimately very difficult to sell as a remedy to people's day to day concerns. The question must be asked, that if the Labour Party's strategy is promoting the politics of consensus, will the party be ignoring radical feminist reforms in the name of favourable polling? Whilst we could all do with following Caitlin Moran's advice of getting up on a chair and declaring ourselves strident feminists, there still remains the question about how this attitude can be implemented in popular policy.
Consumerism is an area where the left has a difficult but also a historically productive relationship. There is a role for the left in seeking to tackle issues such as the cost of living crisis and to support consumers; but there is also a role for the left in considering how consumers can become a force in themselves to drive forward our values.
The recent article from the Young Fabians on the need for Labour to win the youth vote in 2015 is bang on. The question is how.
The Young Fabians Ideas Series seeks to pin down the principles that Labour should adopt on a number of "-isms". Some of these, such as internationalism, have been an established part of the dialogue across the left for a long time. Others, such as patriotism, are already high on the agenda of topics Labour needs to address in order to win elections in challenging times.
Asked once at a political job interview what I understood by the term “big society”, I had to admit to only a vague idea of something to do with David Cameron spouting on about local government. And it is not just me. When it comes to anything involving terms such as ‘devolution’, ‘separatism’, ‘localism’ as well as the dreaded ‘Big Society’ - no-one else seems to have much of a clue either.
Patriotism is a tricky subject for Labour. And yet, who within Labour ranks could possibly claim that the Labour movement is anything other than a patriotic expression? We are a patriotic party, with a patriotic history.
Throughout 2014 the Young Fabians are running a series of commissions to explore the major ideological questions facing One Nation Labour now and in the future.
The recent Co-op AGM saw the ringing endorsement of Lord Myners’ proposals for rectifying the ailing institution. Myners’ original report made for grim reading. “Lay” individuals were elected to the board who felt unqualified to be there and, therefore, could not contribute to decision-making or participate in the overall management of the company.
From the ashes of Al-Qaeda and the Ba’athite party in Iraq a new and more terrifying threat has emerged. The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) has already begun the process of annexing Eastern Iraq, executed over 1,000 soldiers and looted over $2 billion. They are now the richest terror cell in the world.
Lack of access to capital is still a constraint on the ambitions of Britain's entrepreneurs despite the fact the economy is now growing after years of stagnation.
On 6 May, the Young Fabian Health Network hosted an event looking at NHS reform. Debbie Abrahams MP, Private Parliamentary Secretary to Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham MP, spoke for Labour, while Jos Bell spoke on behalf of the London Socialist Health Association.
The UK’s claim to being a developed nation is increasingly fragile. We may have the sixth largest economy, a literate population, and a stable democracy, but we are failing to safeguard the health and wellbeing of millions within our own borders.
Over the weekend, as crowds gathered to watch a village football game, the town of Mubi in Adamawa state Nigeria was rocked by a bomb blast. Witnesses reported around 30 casualties. This attack occurred in one of the three states at the centre of President Goodluck Jonathan's fight against the insurgency group Boko Haram. Questions are being raised about the ability of the Nigerian government to deal with this persistent threat, as it has so far failed to stem the tide of violence.
What is “environmental justice”? The inaugural meeting of the Young Fabians Ideas Series on Environmentalism tackled this question head on, examining a wide range of issues and topics: from energy prices to attitudes towards recycling. However, it was the issue of equality that formed the focus of the discussion, as set out by our keynote speaker, Melanie Smallman, co-chair of the Socialist Environment and Resources Association (SERA), Labour’s environment campaign.