After months and years of arguments, claims, counter-claims, protests, rhetoric, and anger, the BMA leadership and the Government have finally come to a compromise deal on the proposed new junior doctors’ contract. It’s not over yet. The precise wording of the contract has to be worked out, and the junior doctors have to vote to approve it in a referendum from 17th June to 1st July (having a referendum any time other than late June is inconceivable.)
The Labour Party is losing its ability to speak outside of the narrow community of members, activists, and loyal supporters. This is not a Blairite, Brownite or New Labour obsession. Tell that to the brilliant communicators of the new left-wing movements in Europe, Pablo Iglesias of Podemos or former Greek minister Varoufakis.
Three weeks ago Nick Srnicek (author of Inventing the Future: Postcapitalism and a World Without Work) and Cllr Joe Goldberg (Cabinet Member for Haringey Council) spoke to the Young Fabian Technology Network about the effects of technological change on the future of employment.
Their perspectives provided an insightful summary of the different positions in the debate on how to respond to the increasing automation of work - Joe Goldberg argued a focus on education, training and investment (particularly in STEM fields) will provide people with the skills to adapt to these changes and retrain, whilst Nick Srnicek suggested trends such as automation and robotics will eventually replace most of the human labour required by our economy and we should attempt to build a society where income is detached from work.
Although these two viewpoints aren’t necessarily contradictory in the short term (state investment in science and technology are necessary for either), Srnicek argued capitalism in its current form has “run out of steam” and no longer produces growth - one reason why technological change will not create jobs to replace those destroyed as happened in the last industrial revolution. This, alongside recent data showing many of the fastest growing employment sectors don’t require a degree, suggest an increasingly low wage, low skill economy. Joe focused on generational changes such as having more geographical mobility than our parents, which, combined with few millennials having mortgages, means the next generation will have the freedom to change city and jobs far more frequently than their parents.
A large portion of the discussion centered around the idea of a Universal Basic Income. Goldberg proposed a version of basic income that replaces the current benefits system and protects people from the potentially devastating effects of economic and cultural changes that the next industrial revolution will bring, but rejected the idea of a “post-work” society; with the huge global shifts occurring across the world London’s attractiveness as a global hub is as much threatened as the economy would be if people were to stop working with innovative ideas and businesses. Both speakers agreed that other issues such as tax and housing reform would need to happen before a basic income would be possible.
Despite differences in their predictions for the future, there was an acknowledgement on both sides that capitalism has changed and the Labour Party must change with it, with Goldberg noting that the left’s traditional solutions are industrial solutions, unsuited to a post-industrial world.
An unjust tax system that favours the few only serves to hurt us all. Revelations of widespread tax avoidance unearthed in the Panama Papers has thrust the UK’s fiscal system to the forefront of public consciousness in an unprecedented fashion. The Labour Party must take this rarest of opportunities to hammer the Tories not just for their championing of tax havens, but for their pig-headed approach to taxation as a whole.
Over the last 48 hours, the world has been rocked to its core, following the biggest leak in history. The Panama Papers have shed light on the way in which the political and economic elite have been purposefully evading tax and shielding their wealth from the public eye.
If we are to appear as a government in waiting we must overcome the tenderness of discussing immigration policies, and we must do this fast. This starts by going straight to the core of this debate by asking ourselves, how do we actually intend to house new arrivals, particularly the most vulnerable?
You could be forgiven for thinking that Wednesday’s budget didn’t say much about health – other than that headline-grabbing sugar levy. And following the frontloaded increase in NHS funding set out in November’s Spending Review, you might think that the health service really isn’t doing too badly under this government.
But, as ever in health policy, things aren’t quite that simple.
“When I was your age” so the boring mantra your parents repeat goes, “I got a job and looked after myself”
Sometimes, listening to the Tories announce a budget and its measures to building success for the next generation (!) you can’t help but feel like Osborne is your dad, berating you for not trying hard enough.
The Young Fabians Education Network hosted in debate in Parliament in early February looking at the secondary school admissions system.
With access to the best schools often dependent on postcode, some parents are able to effectively buy their way into high quality state education, by buying or renting housing in the right catchment areas. The event looked at some of the possible alternatives, and the practical and political challenges involved in reforming school admissions.admissions system.
Following the event Joel Mullan wrote an article for Left Foot Forward on the key messages emerging from the discussion. It is reproduced below.
John. D. Rockefeller once said that he tried to turn every disaster into an opportunity. Equity markets have decided to do the opposite when reacting to the collapse of oil. Falling oil prices have historically been positive for the world economy, given the redistribution of purchasing power from producers to consumers. However, markets have focused on the direct negative effects of lower oil prices without looking ahead at the potential positive outcomes.
The 2016 presidential favourite will falter if she continues to use gender as her selling point
In an effort to avoid falling victim to Einstein’s definition of insanity, Hillary Clinton has used her gender as a qualifier for office, claiming that it is time for a female president. Yet if Clinton believes Americans will vote for her because she is a woman, initial results offer little reason to hope.
There is nothing sexy about energy efficiency, opined former Chair of the Energy and Climate Change Committee and Conservative MP Tim Yeo to explain the past failures of successive governments to address the UK’s leaky housing stock. He was arguing that energy efficiency fails to capture the public imagination or inspire MPs to act, to address this pernicious and prevalent infrastructure problem that leads to fuel poverty, excessive carbon emissions and tedious blog posts (well at least one).