The 21st century UK is characterised by a paradox. The British state, business community and population are deeply connected to the rest of the world. Always an open, trading nation, we have been shaped by centuries of globalisation. However, while our networks of external engagement become ever closer and more complex, the domestic story is increasingly one of social, economic, and political fragmentation.
How much am I worth? Now there’s a tricky question.
First of all, what are you measuring? My entire life- tears, laughs, bumps, scrapes and all? What would you even use to price that? How much would you pay to take ownership of all that I am?
Amidst the backdrop of falling public expenditure, a limited flow of credit and depressed incomes, we are witnessing the emergence of a new kind of social economy. Unconventional actors and organisations are occupying a growing space between the public and private sectors, challenging established wisdom about how we create and distribute value in our society. Initiatives such as Care4Care, Community Land Trust and the Green Investment Bank, are working in new and innovative ways – somewhere between public services and the market – to deliver social and environmental benefits.
And so there we have it, the final Labour conference before the election is over. The battle lines are drawn and it is all but certain Ed Miliband will be the man who leads us into the fight. The months until this election will now be filled with dark mutterings questioning why our lead in the polls is not more significant and whether we have done enough to win a majority.
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.
“A lack of language skills in the UK is costing our economy about £48bn. The shortage of Mandarin speakers is part of the problem. I don’t want young British people to get left behind.” –Vince Cable
As China’s economy and influence continue to grow, so too does the importance of Chinese language skills for UK businesses.
It seems unfashionable to back Ed Miliband. True, he may not be the best in front of the camera, he does bear an uncanny resemblance to one of my favourite childhood characters (Wallace from Wallace and Gromit) and he doesn’t look great when eating a bacon sandwich (who does?). But with the General Election, and the choice over what kind of country we want to live in, arriving next May, it’s time to put the superficial stuff aside and get serious. It’s time to come clean about the real Ed Miliband: a visionary leader with the bold ideas to make the country work for the many.
One hundred years ago the lights went out across Europe. The First World War plunged humanity into the most horrific conflict in history, incurring 37 million military and civilian casualties (a number equal to the total population of England and Wales at the time), including 16 million deaths.
“Crowdfunding” has become a buzzword in the past few years, and I would know; I have a little alert set up that lets me know every time the subject is mentioned online.