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.
I trust many readers will remember the final lines to the opening of Star Trek: “to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and civilisations, to boldly go where no-man has gone before”. Fellow members of the commentariat will no doubt feel like a crew member on the Starship Enterprise over the next 18 months as the consequences of the European Union elections, Scottish Referendum and General Election slowly unravel throughout society.
“A win is a win”.
On the cusp of the football World Cup, these words, favourites of former England coach Sven Goran Eriksson, should be repeated by Labour supporters and strategists every day from now to the general election.
I'm sitting at a hotdesk in Google Campus, Old Street – an area in East London that has become known as Silicon Roundabout – the UK's answer to Silicon Valley. It's packed, and I'm surrounded by people who are working for start-ups like me, but I stand out. As I look around, a quick count reveals 19 men, and just one other woman. Once a week, our team works from IdeaSpace in Cambridge – a similar sort of space in ‘Silicone Fen’. There’s a wall of male faces representing the founders that use these offices. I can only pick out two women.
The success of UKIP in last week’s European and local elections has prompted much soul-searching within the Labour party.
First of all, we have come to realise that we cannot dismiss concerns regarding immigration felt by the worst off in society. As the Searchlight Educational Trust revealed in their groundbreaking report ‘Fear and Hope’, there is a “clear correlation between economic pessimism and negative attitudes towards immigration.” This in turn leads to a fear of the ‘Other’, leading to the Islamophobia and racism that now run rampant on the continent in the guise of populist and far right parties like the Front National in France. Now this fear has reached our shores under UKIP’s purple and yellow banner.
Giving patients a say on how their healthcare is provided should be at the heart of Labour's health and care policy, but the party’s policy review consultation ‘Your Britain’ currently lacks focus in this area. 65 years ago, Labour won the moral argument with the British electorate for a National Health Service. Labour’s policy on ensuring the health service is truly accountable to, and owned by, the British people needs to be just as innovative if the ideals of the NHS are to survive in the 21st century.
Recent peace talks between Israel and Palestine have come to an abrupt and disappointing end, leaving many supporters of the two-state solution despondent and pessimistic about the future.
YF Internationalism Launch Event
Over the past few years, international issues have taken a backseat to more pressing domestic issues. Even despite a strong tradition within the Party, the idea of internationalism as a key pillar of “One Nation Labour” is often met with mystified doubt.
This is why the Ideas Series project on Internationalism has the potential to be one of the more interesting explorations of the ideas and principles that underpin a Labour approach to governing in 2015. The launch of the project on April 30 aimed to explore some of the challenging issues that comprise internationalism and involve members in setting the direction of the project. Taking in a wide range of topics and perspectives, the event produced an impressive and lively debate amongst members.
David Cameron was once asked, “What’s your favourite joke?”
“Nick Clegg” came the reply.
That was a long time ago, before the 2010 election and before the “coalicious” government came to power. Now Nick and Dave are the best of friends.
As anyone who either is- or has a sibling- aged 15 or 16 will know, GCSE exams are on their way. But this isn’t a blog about the impending terror faced by the country’s school leavers. It’s about something that leapt out at me as I was helping my younger sister with her history revision: namely that demonising the poor and vulnerable at times of economic hardship has a far longer pedigree than many realise.
On May 22, England heads to the polls to elect councillors for 162 local authorities across the country. Thousands of Labour candidates are standing from Camden to Coventry, among them many young people hoping to make their mark in public service.