On the face of it, the UK’s higher education system has never been more socially inclusive. According to UCAS’ headline figures, in the wake of mid-August’s A-level results, more students from deprived areas than ever before have gained admittance into universities. What’s more, the gap between advantaged and disadvantaged admissions has also fallen to an all-time low: the most advantaged are now “just” 2.5 times more likely to enter university than the least advantaged. They were three times more likely in 2012.
Earlier this summer Young Fabians’ Campaigns Officer, Alvin Carpio, embarked on a 5-week Winston Churchill Travel Fellowship to New York, Boston, Washington D.C., and Chicago to find out how leaders are pushing for social change to help the most marginalised and excluded. Here are some of his experiences when he was in Washington D.C.
Together. A word that speaks of common endeavour, shared sacrifice, solidarity, and fellowship. In three syllables it tells you all you need to know about Ed Miliband’s plan for a Britain that, in his own words, has “lost faith in the future”.
The Scottish referendum has been declared a triumph of democracy. Fully 85% of the population voted either ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ to independence on Thursday. No matter who lost, the people won, said the TV pundits, as it was the people who had spoken and the politicians who had to listen when the sun rose on Friday morning.
The economy has recovered. Six years since the recession, the UK is finally producing more than it was in 2008. How much this is being felt in the pockets of ordinary Britons is a moot point, because even if you’ve been lucky enough to get a pay rise this year, it has more than likely been swallowed up by an inflation-busting rise in your rent.
“We do not see any borders from space. We just see a unique planet with a thin, fragile atmosphere, suspended in a vast and hostile darkness. From up here it is crystal clear that on Earth we are one humanity, we eventually all share the same fate."
The New Labour project represented the single largest policy shift in the Labour party since its creation, radically altering the electoral agenda of the party. No longer would Labour be fighting for nationalisation or "the common ownership of the means of production", instead Tony Blair would run a campaign based on a new platform of “social individualism”. Regardless of what you think of Blair, his policies were a compromise with the free market. He thought that the private sector was the most efficient, and pushed ahead with the task of privatisation set forth by Margaret Thatcher.
At the National Policy Forum on 19 July, Ed Miliband announced that Labour would develop and launch a 'Non-Urban' Manifesto for the 2015 General Election. This presents Labour with a tremendous opportunity to lay out a progressive vision of a non-urban Britain that is prosperous, fair and vibrant. In order to succeed, this manifesto must focus on young people.
The spectre of deflation is haunting the Eurozone. A sclerotic economy, stubbornly high unemployment, and a dearth of investment are conspiring to limit growth and push down average prices. Now it looks like the spill-over effects are splashing onto British shores.
The issues faced by working parents will dominate the next election. It will not be a new crisis that takes the Labour party to victory in May 2015, it will be what it can promise families. In particular, those families who have felt seen their living standards continuously deteriorate since 2010.
Ed Miliband’s One Nation Labour vision is focused on the idea of tackling inequality at its roots and devolving power away from the centre. One crucial step on the journey to realising this vision is to ensure women wield economic power on an equal basis with men.
“The language of priorities”, as Nye Bevan once told Labour conference, “is the religion of socialism”, and the time has come for a hallowed Labour party institution, the All Women Shortlist (AWS), to be subjected to some ritualistic scrutiny.