Blog

The new story told by Blue Labour, an essay by Professor John Milbank

1

My good friend John Milbank, Research Professor of Religious, Politics & Ethics at Nottingham University has written the following essay below.

To contact John: john.milbank@nottingham.ac.uk

For more reading on Blue Labour themes see

http://www.youngfabians.org.uk/blog/index.php/2011/10/06/blue-labour-after-conference/

http://resistanceandrenewal.net/2012/06/25/into-the-blue-labours-re-discovery-of-its-conservative-roots-by-ian-geary/

https://richardsrobinson.org.uk/2011/11/labours-good-society-strong-communities/

Contact: 1) Adrian Pabst,  http://www.kent.ac.uk/politics/about-us/staff/members/pabst.html 

              2) David Landrum, http://www.eauk.org/connect/about-us/whos-who/staff.cfm

              3) Ian Geary, idtommyg@hotmail.co.uk

              4) Paul Bickley, http://www.theosthinktank.co.uk/about/theos-team

 

Every bit as Red as Blue: The New Story Told by Blue Labour

John Milbank

 

Over the last forty years or so, the left has been in retreat. In part that is because it has not had a very convincing story to tell. The story told by the so-called right, but actually by economic liberals, has been much more believable.

 

What is this story? It is that capitalism has been the biggest success in the whole of human history. It has delivered untold wealth, got rid of disease, lengthened human life. But it is also admitted by the right that capitalism is amoral. So if it has succeeded this has been the result of a kind of Faustian pact with the devil, as Robert Skidelsky suggests.  

 

How does that pact work? It works by the idea that if each of us pursue selfishly our own interests, calculating rationally what will make us most happy and content, in terms of our own private objectives, then the market mechanism, matching supply to demand, can operate smoothly to harmonise all outcomes. Out of egotistic chaos, social harmony and untold wealth will magically arise.

 

The updated application of this story says that up till the 1970’s unions extracted excessively high wages and made workers too unproductive. Meanwhile governments extracted too much tax, spent too much on welfare and interfered too much in industry. Once that was corrected by Mrs Thatcher, unprofitable industry vanished, profitable industry survived and the city of London boomed.

 

What has the left had to offer in place of this story? Only a modified version of it. Even Karl Marx thought that capitalism, with all its evils, was a stage society had to go through on its way to progress. That’s what they still think in China today. Social democrats and the Labour Party since Anthony Crossland go further: capitalism will always be with us, the pact with the devil has to remain in place. Capitalism is a great evil monster and we need it in all perpetuity. However, it can be domesticated; it can be tamed. When there is an economic crisis, governments can intervene with work programmes to generate demand. And in general governments can intervene all the time tactically with various devices like valuing or devaluing the currency, setting interest rates, subsidising some industries, operating prices and incomes policies.

 

In the later New Labour version most of this was backed away from and the liberal argument of leaving the market alone was largely accepted. However, through tax and spend, the evil consequences of capitalism were now to be modified by the redistribution of wealth and provision of welfare. In addition, housing and education policies could ensure that everyone had an equal opportunity to play the market game.

 

However, we can now see that, at least in the short term, these two stories have both started to look less plausible.

 

Let’s look at the main, rightwing liberal story first. Over recent years, months and now even days, capitalism and especially finance capitalism has started to look ever more sordid. Perhaps that should not surprise us. But much more significantly it now looks as if in some ways it’s not even working very well in pragmatic terms. Is the devil finally letting us down; not keeping his side of the bargain? Aspects of capitalism now look incompetent as well as semi-criminal. What is more, their immorality is often the very thing that renders them unworkable. For it now appears to be the case that sometimes self-interested behaviour just serves the self-interested individual and doesn’t serve society at large, not even economically. Moreover it often only serves individual interest taken in the short-term.

 

It was supposed to be true that massive wealth for a few would trickle down to the many. Well, the opposite has occurred: inequality under neoliberalism has got massively wider. Moreover, the generating of profits by defeating worker’s demands in the 1970’s didn’t last long. Quite quickly, a lot of capital had nowhere to go and there was a need to boost demand again. The contradictory cycles of capitalism noted by Marx seemed to be speeding up. But instead of turning back to Keynes, the system we live under invented a new sort of bastard Keynesianism which increased demand by increasing the indebtedness of almost everyone at every level. This has the enormous advantage that those in debt are disempowered and politically weakened.

 

However, just as high wage demand tends to eat into profits, so, in the end, does debt-demand. It’s as simple as that: someone has to pay up sometime, debts can’t be endlessly passed on into more and more fictional vehicles. Sooner or later people start to get panicky; you can’t really do without the final securitisation of the abstract on the concrete.

 

So that’s where we seem to be at present. Belief in the hidden hand as the only economic and social bond has left us with rampant individualism and excessive abstraction. If people are told that selfishness is good, then they won’t always obey the rules out of calculated self-interest. They’ll sometimes gamble that they can get away with breaking them. And they increasingly do. And if we deny that we have anything concrete in common then the common good will reduce to an  unreal and  idea of wealth – just a big pile of numbers, with most of us assigned very few of them.

 

But now all this egotism and virtuality isn’t delivering the economic goods. It turns out that even capitalism needed more cooperation and reciprocity than liberals thought. If you don’t trust your colleagues even within your own firm or bank, then a kind of anarchy ensues. To contain that anarchy in private and public corporations – including universities – we get increased top-down impersonal management of individuals. But that kills co-operation, tacit interactive process and creativity. And disgruntled individuals try to exploit the bodies they work for.

 

What we’re seeing here is increased de-professionalisation or the abolition of any true reality of  vocation. Working people have faced this for centuries: their guilds, self-regulating bodies and ownership of their own means of production, homes and workplaces, plus the right to organise their own time and labour were removed long ago. But now that’s hitting the middle classes also. It’s even hitting politicians.

 

But it’s no longer clear that this deprofessionalisation, this removal of self-regulation and an ethical ethos governing work is a reliable means of wealth-generation, never mind any reasonable degree of wealth distribution. That’s what the current crisis is really all about.

 

So what about the left’s softer version of the same big story? What about social democracy? The idea that capitalism is a big hungry fire-breathing dragon that can be successfully chained up and made to work for you? Well that’s in just as much trouble. Fifty years of attempted redistribution through welfare policies have only led to an ever more unequal society. And the whole idea is unstable. It depends on endless economic growth in order to be able to redistribute without damaging the capitalist mechanism. And such growth will not be consistently delivered. Just at present  we could instead be entering a long period of stagnation in the West.

 

Indeed, the liberals are this far right: excessive state intervention can be one factor in eventually over-inflating demand and so inhibiting profit. Hence Keynesiansim as a sufficient alternative to neoliberalism is a huge delusion. Sure, Ed Balls is quite right for the moment: in depressed circumstances you apply demand-stimulation remedies from the top. Hayek and Milton Friedman thought so too. But inversely Keynes’s view of happier capitalist times is scarcely different, if a little bit more interventionist than theirs. He mostly lies within the paradigm of neoclassical economics which assumes the isolated, rational, utility-maximing economic actor. Certainly we can agree that we should today we should substitute the real demand of more money in people’s pockets for the draining-degrading demand of debt. But that just takes us back into the cycling treadmill. Sooner or later excessive benign demand would eat into profits, and even Keynesians would recommend lower taxes, less government expenditure and wage restraint.

 

Above all the mantra of ‘more state, less market’ cannot deal with the disease of a market system which is increasingly criminal, unequal and incapable of generating wealth, at least in the UK. In a globalised world it is this system which dominates, leaving the state very little room for manoeuvre at the tactical level.

 

So far in the face of the global economic crisis we have seen little more than impotent anger from various protestors, with not all that much analysis. Why should capitalism in certain ways no longer be working? Any notion of final crisis is implausible because, although it is always chronically crisis-ridden, capitalism has infinite resources to readjust and recover. That’s the very beauty of its indifferent abstraction. And there is absolutely no sign of anyone inventing a new variant of socialism to replace a tottering system.

 

It’s here that Blue Labour wants to offer an altogether different story. A powerful new story that can challenge not just the story told by the right since the 1970’s, but the story told by the right about the whole of modernity. A story that could propel the left back to long-term power.

 

Quite simply, is the success of the market economy really the same as the success of the capitalist economy? Historians and the subtler economists increasingly say no. The market economy stretches back at least to the 12th C. It means the division of labour, the freedom to work and to trade and the attempt to increase wealth in the real sense of improve human life – make it more comfortable, exciting, various and fulfilling. It was this economy which was responsible for the growth of free cities unique in the history of the world and for the first industrial revolution in the West. But it wasn’t a capitalist economy? Why not?

 

A capitalist economy, as Stefano Zamagni explains, does not pursue the common good but ‘the total good’. That means the sum total of individual utilitarian happiness in the aggregate. People counted one by one, not in their real relationships. But an abstract sum means a sum of numbers, the total wealth of a community, which may accrue to some more than to others, to a small minority rather than to the vast majority. The British GDP is evidently not the common good of the British people.

 

But the older market economy can be described, after Zamagni, as a ‘civil economy’. That really does pursue the common good: the good of each and every one of us as we concretely are in our families, workplaces, communities. But how can we do that by labouring and trading in the market? The answer is that one can be both pursuing a reasonable profit for oneself, and at the same time trying to offer to other people a social benefit – in return for a social benefit that they are offering you. One can trade in real human goals as well as in hard cash. Likewise a contract can be a reciprocally agreement about a shared goal and value, not just the joint meeting of two entirely separate individual goals. The latter applies when I take a cab: I want to get to the station, the cabbie need to feed his kids. But it doesn’t apply if I and my neighbour agree to put up a hedge between our gardens that we both want, or better a shared tennis court at the bottom of both our gardens.  It doesn’t even apply if you know the cabbie or if you offer him an unnecessarily generous tip.

 

So what historians have shown is that well into the 16th century a civil economy operated according to ideas of contract that were not purely competitive. The price mechanism was determined to a degree co-operatively as well as competitively. So, for example, it was not assumed that you would always charge the highest possible price that the market would tolerate. You might lower that price to help your neighbour because you did not want to destroy your neighbour and it would not even make economic sense to do so. Now even tough-minded economists are rediscovering this idea that so-called ‘shared benefit’ can make economic sense.

 

If you withheld charging the full possible price from your neighbour, then it was explicitly seen that you were offering him a gift. Or if you paid your worker rather more than you needed to. Or if you offered your debtor a lower rate of interest than you might have extorted. All these things were seen as gift and there was no absolute distinction of gift from contract. This fact formed the operative basis for notions of just prices, just wages, just rates of interest and the restriction of usury.

 

Alongside this, civil economy was a vocational economy. People served apprenticeships and there were conditions of entry to professional associations or guilds. These guilds tried to govern quality, treatment of customers and protection of workers. They conferred dignity and even an aura of religious mystery about craft. Let’s remember that in the pagan world labour enjoyed no such status: its sacred importance was invented by Christian – especially Benedictine — monks and then communicated to the laity.

 

But surely, you’ll be perhaps thinking, it was the distinction of contract from gift and abolition of guilds and protective corporations, along with enclosure and the removal from the worker of the ownership of the means of production that lead to the great capitalist take-off? But it is just this view that may not be so clear. There could be a sense in which – to echo Bruno Latour – ‘we have never been capitalist’.

 

A few crucial points here: 1. The take-off had to an extent already began with the civil economy. 2. Its deviation into a capitalist economy was the result of peculiar contingencies: the influx of overseas trade from the New World and American gold which unbalanced things towards the power of liquid wealth and the owners of that wealth. Also the Protestant ethos which took a gloomy view of life in this world and so reduced notions of the common good and the possibility of prudential rather than purely selfish judgement in everyday life. 3. Outside the Protestant world and even the Anglo-Saxon world, the civil economy continued in a modified form. Indeed many elements of it are still there in contemporary Italy and Germany. The latter’s economic success is not then purely a capitalistic success. 4. To a large degree the enlightenment reacted against the individualism of contract. Thus Adam Smith’s economist contemporaries in Naples and Milan tried to revive the civil economy and they thought that when you bought meat from your butcher you did do so partly out of benevolence, because he was you’re your friend and you needed his shop still to be there. Actually we still think like that in my small town Southwell in Nottinghamshire, despite the attempts of Tory Newark Town Council to make us join their version of modernity. But even Adam Smith wanted the market economy to be embedded in networks of social sympathy.

 

And what about Victorian England? OK we had the Benthamite influence which led to fully fledged utility maximising economic theory. But meanwhile back in complex reality we also had Quaker manufactures trying to care for their workers, we had regional banks operating in partnerships with cities, we had a fusion of heritage and economic effort that combined cultural and economic flourishing. Despite all the Dickensian horrors, there was a certain motor of trust and common purpose and quite soon people tried to amend those horrors through extraordinary efforts of philanthropy. In that atmosphere of mutual help the Labour party was first  born  — in tune with the real story of western economic success and not in opposition to it.

 

So what if both the liberal and the Marxist or Social Democratic stories are myths? What if we did not need the bargain with the devil? What if even the factory system and enclosure were not entirely necessary to economic success and after all they do not seem to have been so in the same degree outside the UK – by no means in France for example. What if the Nottinghamshire Luddites of the clothing trade, heir of that hero of vanishing fraternity, Robin Hood, were right, and one did not need to sacrifice quality of work to levels of production? For it was that sacrifice which they opposed and not machines as such.

 

It’s of course possible to say that the bad practice of capitalism, the abandonment of the common good, has produced an awful lot of wealth in its own terms and that it  has indeed produced material benefits for many as well as exploitation, impoverishment, uglification and lack of meaning in work. One can argue about how far it could all have happened differently.

 

But what is for certain is that now a more extreme form of capitalism, totally removed from the norms of civil economy isn’t working very well any more. For a very long time now growth has increasingly slowed and inequality and unemployment has vastly increased.

 

So maybe we need to try a pact or better covenant with God instead. Maybe virtuous practice can also achieve more stable and sustainable economic prosperity.

 

This is the big new story that Blue Labour wants to tell. And the end of the story is a new mode of action such as Lord Glasman has started to chart. At the centre of this new mode of action lies a linking of the renewal of our culture and of pride in our regions with economic recovery. For if we’re still sick in the UK it’s a psychological and not just an economic sickness. We need to recall who we are as a nation: the people who invented constitutional government and gave it to the world and should continue to help to do so, freed from the shackles of excessive US influence. We also need to recall who we are in our localities. In Nottingham a place of free manufacturing all the way from medieval alabaster statues supplying the whole of Europe through lace-making to modern bicycles and drugs to the world market. A place of craft, skill and greenwood fraternity and sorority, Without that kind of pride and self-belief we won’t want to work in the future to any purpose.

 

And instead of relying mainly on state redistribution we need to forge an economy that operates justly and fairly in the first place: both through the internal ethos of firms and professional associations and through a new legal framework that demands that every business deliver social benefit as well as reasonable profit.

 

But this does not mean that the state has no role. Alongside ideas of the big society we need a new notion of the ‘public’ that slides between the social and state-direction or answerability. It is here that, following the ideas of Lord Glasman, at the centre of the merging Blue Labour programme  stands the idea not of tactical government intervention but of the strategic shaping of new economic institutions: of systems of apprenticeships; of entry conditions to work through the operation of professional bodies, of new polytechnics, more visionary business schools, regional banks and partnerships between such banks, local business and new city-based parliaments.

 

We can renew our country if we renew our love for each other and for our common purpose. And by rejoining gift to contract we can recover at once our ancient English festivity and our spirit of genuine economic enterprise.

 

 

 

Building a Better Britain (6) Giving people control over the banks

0

The banking crisis at Barclays seems set to morph into a pandemic and spread its poisonous tentacles on a scale perhaps not witnessed since the Great Plague of 1665.

Three hundred and forty-seven years on – July 2012 in Bankers vs the people are the people really powerless and really have no scope to fight back?

At the third of my Citizens Focus Group meetings at the Nelson & Railway in Kimberley, Nottingham tonight, starting at 7 30pm we’ll be looking at whether people power can affect the banks?  Should we the citizens move our funds to Mutual Societies, Coop, Credit Unions and rip up our cards and accounts with the major banks?

This is politics at the grassroots – politics down the pub. Do join in the conversation.

 

Why the need for extra Housing in Broxtowe, Nottingham?

3

The next Citizens Focus Group in Kimberley – will meet on Monday 30 April at 7 30pm – Nelson & Railway Inn Kimberley, all welcome.

The most popular choice from members of the public for a discussion this time was Housing.

I have therefore arranged for a planning expert from Broxtowe Borough Council to come to our session, who will outline the background to housing allocations, localism, core strategies, government guidance, local authority requirements etc – all in an understandable way (cutting out the “local gvt speak!!).

We have previously had excellent discussions on Elected Police Commissioners, E Petitions, Citizenship and fuel prices.

I’m sure this Monday’s debate and discussion will prove just as informative, and stimulate excellent discussion, debate and dialogue.

What’s more I hope that the general public will gain a better idea of the pressures and difficult decisions having to be taken by locally elected representatives. Also it’s a great chance for the public to be better informed and have their say.

Let dialogue commence, jaw-jaw is better than war war 🙂

Feedback from the First Citizens Focus Group in Kimberley, Nottingham

0

On Tuesday 21 February this week we held in Kimberley, our first Citizens Focus Group.  I’ve written about this before at: https://richardsrobinson.org.uk/2012/02/dawn-of-a-new-way-of-doing-politics-citizens-focus-group-power-to-the-people/

People First

Essentially I wanted to help create a forum whereby members of the public who are predominantly members of no political party, could get together and have their say on “big issues” facing them, the local communities and our country.

Well, we met in the Nelson & Railway Inn in Kimberley where the beer is second to none.  As a good councillor very early on in the week, and having to drive later, it was strictly fizzy water for me though.

We had an encouraging turn out at the meeting plus we were joined by two politics students from Nottingham Trent University.

The topic chosen was that of police commissioners and their pending elections in Nottinghamshire on November 15 this year.

Whilst somehow we managed in the first 10 minutes to bring into the conversation the Stockholm Syndrome (don’t ask me now how this was relevant), as people became more confident (most had not met before), the conversation really started to flow.  What I’ve done below is to bullet point the salient points that people made as follows:

  1. how really would elected police commissioners directly feed into our communities in Nottinghamshire?
  2. should ex-MPs really being standing as candidates – how can they be impartial?
  3. surely under this new system one person would have ultimate power – is this right?
  4. As young people often feel disengaged from politics, how can 1 elected police commissioner in Nottinghamshire encourage wider participation?
  5. Good work that has been done in particular communities – like Awsworth & Cossall where only 4-5 years ago there were major problems with anti social behaviour – the local police have done a brilliant job in building good relationships with local communities.  The advent of one elected police commissioner possibly with different local neighbourhood policing focus could undermine all of this.
  6. The whole idea of an elected police commissioner is based on a flawed concept, imported from America where there is little if any proof of any long-term benign results for local communities.
  7. Particularly if the elected police commissioner is an ex MP they would follow a ‘party line’ as opposed to what’s best for that particular county.

What do do?

Instead of having elected police commissioners we should instead:

  • encourage greater connectivity between local schools, police local communities
  • have a much clearer and stronger focus on citizenship in schools – this would include work on respect, fostering closer relations between youngsters and police, attack on poverty, emphasis on restorative justice etc.
  • encourage youngsters to participate in community activities – such as Party on the Park in Awsworth
  • Reverse the austerity measures being pursued by the Coalition, particularly with regards to early intervention, cutting back of youth centres and provision.
  • Sure Start, mentors and extra investment in education and early years is of paramount importance

At our next session (date to be arranged – either March or April) – we will be discussing practical steps as to how political parties and local communities can really help build “respect”.  We’ll also look at inviting a guest speaker to address us on this issue to provoke further debate and discussion!

Watch this space for more details.

 

 

Dawn of a new way of doing politics? Citizens Focus Group – power to the people

1

Lying on a sunbed in Pefkos Greece last August after catching up with a batch of e mails from constituents on a whole range of issues my mind wandered.   Yes I am very sad.   “Wouldn’t it be great I though if we could do a bit more of grassroots politics and find a way for a range of voters from all persuasions, but not members of political parties to come together and not just debate in a mature way, but actually suggest ways that our body politic back home could be improved”?

So the idea was birthed – in Greece of all places – where its debt crisis of course is causing political and economic turmoil on a scale unimaginable several years ago, with news today that a bailout worth £110bn being loaned, and having around £107bn of its debt written off.

From Greece to back to Broxtowe, from Broxtowe and the East Midlands to parliament and from parliament back to the people

So for voters back home in Broxtowe and the East Midlands, what do they really think on some of the Big Questions facing us in society today like:

  • what’s wrong with politics and society in Britain?
  • what would a better Britain look like in 2015?
  • how can we tackle in the long-term such wicked issues of growing obesity and alcoholism?
  • is there any alternative to mass unemployment?
  • will a Directly Elected Mayor in the city of Nottingham do anything for communities throughout the rest of the County?
  • Should workfare be compulsory to try to reduce youth unemployment?
  • Should certain health care be rationed?
  • Is Scottish independence good for the whole of the UK?
  • Is Christianity a spent force amongst the multi ethnic make up of Britain?
  • If you don’t vote currently, what would urge you to do so?

These topics and hundreds of others of course can be debated via e-mail, blogs, get a cursory hearing on Question Time and on university campuses.

But what about the ordinary citizen, voter, not at university, not particularly engaged with politics – what about their views, how do get them re-connected?

This week sees the first meeting of my Citizens Focus Group – where a group of voters (members of no political party) have volunteered to come together to discuss their views on what’s wrong, and what we can possibly do to build a better Britain.

It might be raw, maybe controversial at times, but what I want to do is tease out some of the best ideas – directly from the voter, encourage them to engage and get involved.  Most of all though – to put some people power back into politics.

Watch this space for further details!

Building a Better Britain (5) NHS, Early Intervention & Social Impact Bonds

0

Copious ink is being spilt in the social networks and newspapers of the land on the Tories’ NHS reforms.   Rightly so.  They remind us of not only the gut wrenching impotence of opposition, but of the dangers of on the one hand mindless, on the other purely ideologically driven (and hatred of) public services, and race for profit in the increasing privatisation of precious public services.

It is easy in these circumstances to enter into a mind-set of opposition to all Coalition policies, regardless of their merits. While this may appear tempting, particularly in light of some of the disastrous decisions being made, it would be ill-advised.

Does this mean I am in any remote way an apologist or have a modicum of sympathy for Her Majesty’s Government?  Unequivocally not.  However as Rafael Behr rightly reminded us last week; both David Cameron and Ed Miliband have yet to clearly define a benign remedy for the nation’s ills.

Canvassing voter’s opinions on the doorstep is proving informative with four particular aspects that stand out.  First I am not finding an endemic love of the Tories, second there is a widespread mirth and hilarity should the words “Clegg” or “Lib Dems” be brought into the conversation.

Unsurprisingly (and thirdly) voters are wanting Labour to offer viable and credible specific alternatives, but what fourthly is increasingly being said in the doorstep is “stop squabbling and sort this mess out, stop blaming each other, and where a Coalition policy is ok, don’t simply oppose”.

One coalition policy that I would argue merits deeper consideration is that of social impact bonds. The idea takes the very best aspects of the private sector, with social enterprises providing advance funding to support schemes created and administered by organisations such as prisons and local councils.

In Merseyside, Triodos Bank, Greater Merseyside Connexions Partnership (GMCP) and Business in the Community (BITC) are working together to help young people who are facing social disadvantage. While ventures such as this may end up costing the taxpayer more money if they prove successful, they provide an excellent barometer of success while helping eliminate waste.

But this is about more than saving money and improving efficiency.  Early intervention works.  The Coalition is stealing our clothes here.  We know this from Labour’s achievements on Sure Start, investment in nursery provision, Child Trust Funds and other progressive measures the Coalition are busy dismantling.  Recipients of early intervention enjoy not only better opportunities, but more of them. It prevents crime, raises education standards and eases pressure on public services that would have had to attempt to deal with the issues that may have befallen those who are most in need.

Not only do social impact bonds help those most in need, they also fit comfortably into Labour’s attempt to reclaim the localism agenda. And it is in this manner that the party can differentiate itself over the policy. Currently, it is local organisations, such as social enterprises and philanthropists that provide the funding. But what if we were to be brave, and encourage local business to carry some of the burden. The policy could be tweaked so that targets were more short term and rewarded with tax breaks. Businesses would be allowed to use the schemes as ways of engaging with the local community (and therefore their customers), creating an advertising space that was potentially profitable even before a scheme was a success.

This step would have the advantage of easing the burden on the relatively narrow, and already heavily called upon, sector of social enterprise. It would also lower the schemes’ costs, with tax breaks requiring less administrative duties than a repayment through other means.

This idea, of reward for positive social behaviour, can already be seen in carbon trading and in proposals for tax breaks for employers who may a living wage. While the relative merits of these policies are widely debated, offering financial incentive for positive social conduct is a proven tool.

The NHS Bill struggles on, and we will continue to fight it with every last sinew. But not everything this government will do will be as toxic, with the party or the people. We must learn to compartmentalise our vitriol and encourage those policies we know may do some good, improving them, and claiming the credit along the way. It may be the only way we salvage our good work previously in government.  Then indeed we start to outline our vision of a Good Society, but that’s a discussion for another time.

New Opportunities for Traders at Kimberley Farmers Markets

0
Kimberley Farmers Market (KFM) in Nottingham are looking are looking for new traders as part of an exciting plan to expand the market.
 
KFM has been established since 2009 and currently operates every first Saturday of the month between 9am and 1pm at Toll Bar Square, Kimberley.
 
One of the volunteer committee members Maureen Smith said “we are very encouraged with the number of people who continue to visit the market every month, and to enhance our range of products on sale we now want to invite additional market holders to trade”.
 
Borough Councillor for Kimberley Richard Robinson who also helps run the market added “the market has become an established and important part of the community in Kimberley and we attract visitors from around the county, so have decided therefore to look for new traders”.  He added “initiatives such as local farmers market very much help regenerate local communities, foster a community spirit and offer locally produced goods and alternatives to the predominant supermarket chains”.
 
Anyone interested in holding a stall should contact Maureen Smith maureen.smith@virgin.net 

Building a Better Britain (4), Let’s hear it again, again and again for a Living wage

1

Let’s hear it for a Living Wage – again, again and again

Driving home from the train station on the way back from work last Friday night, I nearly crashed. Not because of any obstruction in the road, but because I attempted to throw something at the car radio, so cross was I about seemingly everyone who had an excuse for Stephen Hestor’s (then) £970,000 bonus.

Now don’t let’s hear all this baloney about how much tax he would have paid on this and how this payment would have been good value for money for UK tax payers.  We as a Labour movement have to say bank bonuses, or indeed any other bonus when you already earn £1,000,000 a year is grotesque and totally unnecessary.  That we haven’t spelt this out emphatically before, well the sinner repenteth and this applies whatever our strand of Labour is blue, purple, old or new.

End of story?  No.  On Monday this week we now read that RBS executives will be allowed to pocket huge bonuses, despite Hestor’s munificent gesture.  Contrast this position with thousands of low paid workers on minimum wage with no pension and a seemingly endless pay freeze.  Or to the thousands of carers, heroes each in their own right, working endless hours week after week unnoticed.  It is impossible to calculate a price for the immense value they bring, but the bonus they will receive?  I know not of one.

So what to do?  Canvassing on the doorstep every weekend, I hear voters opining for Labour to break with a Tory consensus.  In a compelling article by Medhi Hasan he offers an alternative to fiscal conservatism, promoting growth and the creation of jobs.  Additionally we must also fight to improve the lives of those who struggle on far less than Mr Hester and his RBS executive colleagues.   A living wage would be the ideal way to achieve this, building on but braver than the minimum wage achievement.

For all those who say a Living Wage is unaffordable for business, then I seem to recall they said the same about the minimum wage – I can’t now remember the last time I heard anyone in business decry the minimum wage.

Currently, the living wage is £8.30 an hour in London and £7.20 an hour for the rest of the country. This is comfortably more than the £6.08 minimum wage currently set and for many people will be the difference between choosing between heating or food, and providing their families with these two most basic human rights.

The living wage is a Labour idea in the most classic sense. It rewards hard work, encourages ethical business, and helps reduce the gap between the top and the bottom.    What’s more, the party does not need to be in government to successfully campaign for its widespread implementation. Legislation, such as a cut in corporation tax for participatory companies, would be a strong incentive, but figures showing that 70% of companies feel the living wage increases consumer awareness of their ethical practices and 80% reporting that the it had enhanced the quality of work by their staff provide more than enough evidence to encourage the campaign’s take up without government intervention.

If the opposition’s purpose is to do just that, oppose, then Labour have rightly had a promising week. But if it is to inspire debate, challenge the stale status quo and campaign for a better tomorrow, even without the pulpit of government, a Living Wage is even better; positive and practical and most importantly it offers hope to thousands of people the Coalition are battering.  They might even be tempted to vote Labour too.

Building a Better Britain (3) Why HS2 is good for us all

0

In the 3rd of my articles for 2012 I look at why HS2 is good for commuters and non commuters alike, East Midlands and across the country

http://labourlist.org/2012/01/hs2-will-serve-the-communities-of-tomorrow/

Building a Better Britain (2) how elected mayors can help Labour restore credibility with voters

2

Labour must reclaim its rightful place as the champion of elected mayors

After the electoral massacre of the AV referendum last year, constitutional reform may seem like the last thing on voters’ minds right now. However, despite the crumbling state of the UK economy in the face of savage Tory cuts, the structure of democracy has again come to the fore in the early days of 2012. Plenty has been written on what is fast becoming a constitutional crisis in Scotland. This is allowing a different kind of reform, one that may affect and improve the lives of the average citizen far more, to slip under the radar; that of elected mayors.

It is vital to claim this territory back as a Labour policy. It was Labour that introduced the very idea of directly elected mayors through the Greater Authority London Act of 1999. This was followed by the Local Government Act of 2000, which for the first time allowed the option of directly elected mayors for councils around the country. For all the coalition’s talk of decentralising power, it was Labour that pioneered this proud tradition.

The position of London mayor has proved a huge success. Whoever has held the post has acted as a figurehead for the city, bringing both accountability and publicity that has been good for democracy and tourism. However, in the spirit of the current media narrative, the party must accept its failings with elected mayors. The largest authorities to boast mayors outside London are currently Leicester and Middlesbrough. Major cities such as Birmingham, Liverpool, Manchester and Leeds have never even held referendums on the issue.

That is all about to change. On the 3rd May this year, these four cities, along with seven others, will hold referendums on whether to elect mayors. Labour should wholeheartedly embrace and support these campaigns. It may be a coalition policy, but elected mayors allow the party to consolidate its support in areas which regularly send numerous Labour MPs to Westminster. The opportunity to present candidates that can be figure heads for the cities forgotten by an increasingly southern-centric Tory party cannot be missed.

It is not only to the advantage of the party and the voters to have a directly elected mayor for their city. London has undoubtedly benefited from the status a mayor provides, further sharpening its image as the beacon of British culture and prosperity. Our cities in the Midlands and the North have much to offer. The regeneration of Birmingham, Liverpool and Manchester has been a joy to witness over the past decade, and the history and culture they boast is comparable to that of the capital. However, with the Tories in power, these cities need more to maintain their impressive rise.

Constitutional reform, as we saw with glaring clarity last year, may not be ‘sexy’ or high on voters’ priorities. However, mayoral elections allow citizens a greater say while giving Labour a chance to solidify support in the country’s great cities. One of Britain’s crowning glories is its healthy democracy. And more of that can only help make Britain even better.

Building a Better Britain – How Environmental Sustainability can help Labour restore credibility with voters

3

The environment may point the direction to restoring Labour’s economic credibility

It’s the Environment – Stupid

There is little doubt, in amongst the disappointing opinion polls and leader ratings, that Labour faces a problem with electoral and crucially economic credibility.  I do not believe it is not the issue of personnel that should try the party the most, but of economics. For all the focus on personality and leadership in these vapid times, it is still the economy that matter s most to voters.  But.

It is undoubtedly somewhat peculiar shall we say, to address this issue with a topic that registers lower on most people’s priorities than the EU. When times are good, saving the planet from global warming is a luxury most are prepared to spend a little more on. However, when in times of austerity, environmental sustainability is the first thing out of that poorly insulted window.

So why focus on it? The first reason is that it is quite simply the right thing to do. In politics, most issues are presented on a sliding scale of middling grey. Environmental sustainability is largely a black and white issue that forms an essential plank of any enlightened campaign. Labour simply cannot claim to be progressive without it.

Second it also makes electoral sense. Pursued correctly, environmental sustainability is likely to make few enemies that weren’t already in the blue corner while winning plenty of friends, and votes, from supporters of the coalition’s junior partner. The Liberal Democrats can no more claim to be part of the greenest government ever than Labour can of having a perfect economic record. It’s time we took advantage of this particular weakness.

What’s more the coalition’s attempts to promote a green agenda are being attacked by the right, as well as the left.  Even The Daily Mail this week acknowledged families will face a double whammy from green taxes and that one in three households could face fuel poverty. The media climate around this issue allows Labour to plot a clear middle path that allows them to rally public support around an issue.

The key to making all  of this work, and to claim some of the electoral prizes on offer, is to present a clear, pragmatic and economically viable alternative. Dogma will not work. Nor will fluffy policy speeches attempting to create a new middle ground on the issue. What might well work is a fully costed plan that demonstrates living, working and behaving sustainably will save the average family money. And not just ‘some’ money. A definitive amount, clearly evidenced, perhaps even trailed by a willing local council. The desired outcome should not be some European defined target, but to improve the lives of families whilst making that little bit of difference.

We know voters aren’t going to magically trust Labour with the economy again overnight; it is a long and hard slog and one that requires innovative solutions.  However environmental sustainability is a small step on the path to power and it is a step that can help convince voters Labour can be trusted with their money. Yes the work to regain credibility begins here, and believe it or not, it starts with the environment.

Labour’s Good Society & Strong Communities

0

Let’s do God, a Good Society & Community again

(but not on David Cameron’s terms)

 

David Cameron says he is evangelical about his Christian faith. 

The Prime Minister’s religious messages began last week with an Easter reception at Downing Street, at which he said religion had brought him his greatest moments of peace and claimed “Jesus invented the big society 2,000 years ago”.  This is not true.

This reminded me of the chilling days of the 1980s when Mrs Thatcher infamously lectured to the Scottish synod that the most important lesson to come out of the parable of the Good Samaritan was that the Good Samaritan had money.   That was an abomination.

In a separate article for the Church Times, David Cameron argued that some atheists and agnostics did not understand that faith could be a “guide or a helpful prod in the right direction” towards morality.

I think that Labour should do God, The Good Society & community again.  Here’s why …….

 

Labour’s Good Society & Strong Communities

 

There’s really no shortage of advice for the Labour Party in the wake of the 2010 general election defeat as it searches its soul.  Searching its soul indeed for a vision, narrative and practical policy agenda that will first sustain it between the maelstrom, tedium and emasculation in opposition, and second serve to metamorphose the way the Party connects and sustains a conversation and momentum with the public, now and when back in government.

 

Some like Alice Miles, look at specific policy issues in trying to determine ‘the challenge for Labour’.  She refers to the local election results in May this year when the public failed to reject the Conservatives’ agenda of punitive spending cuts.

She states that “this is the latest evidence that voters have reached a limit in how much they are prepared to continue to fund a universal system of public welfare at ever-increasing cost, which demands nothing from recipients in return, and with diminishingly obviously benefit in terms of social outcomes.  This is the challenge confronting a Labour Party trying to find an agenda for the 21st century[1].

 

Cue a signal to unleash Rowan Williams the Archbishop of Canterbury in June this year who lamented how “the political debate in the UKat the moment feels pretty stuck”[2].  His sermon to Labour also contained a stark warning “we are still waiting for a full and robust account of what the left would do differently and what a left-inspired version of localism might look like”[3].

 

Others inside the Party simply ask for a listening ear, and according to Anthony Parker “despite the influx of young members into the party and despite the importance attached by our leader to the new generation, one question still occupies my thoughts, when will our ideas be asked for[4]?

 

For the Labour leader though, Medhi Hasan notes how Ed Miliband has articulated “three distinct challenges to which the next Labour government must be the answer: tackling generational decline where there are fewer opportunities for young people; strengthening communities and historical institutions, and reducing the new inequality between the squeezed middle and a wealthy elite”[5].

 

On strengthening communities, this is again seized upon by Miliband when he states “going forward, we need to rediscover the tradition of Labour as a grassroots community movement – not for the sake of nostalgia for the past, but to strengthen our party’s capacity to bring about a real change in people’s lives”[6].

 

 

It will then be my strong contention in this essay that indeed not just the notion of strong communities, but its practical out-workings combined with a coherent and definitive narrative of what a “Good Society” is, can help transform the fortunes of the Labour Party, and facilitate the real generational change in people’s lives we yearn and strive for.

 

Integral to my argument as well is that Labour must rediscover its Christian Socialist principles and values.  If as David Landrum has argued “the Bible speaks to politics because God is interested in government[7]”, surely Labour needs to end a 50 year plus hostility and ignorance of its Christian heritage.  Moreover it should abandon the “we don’t do God” mantra adopted famously during the Blair years.  In summary then a powerful triumvirate of Christian Socialist Values, a good society and strong communities will be the cogent vanguard of a resurgent Labour Party and Movement.

 

Why community?

 

Enough ink has already been spilt debating the ongoing historical arguments and conflicts over Labour’s purpose, meaning and value.  Well before the 2010 General Election defeat in May 2010 where Labour suffered its worst election result since 1918 (bar 1983), and having lost five million voters in a thirteen year span in office, a deep seated malaise had engulfed the Party.  Back in 2009 Richard Reeves had signalled that Labour was falling, broken and on its knees with no defining positions on the role of market, the purpose of the state, the relationship between individual and social needs, to name but a few[8].

 

To further compound the Party’s grief and rub salt into gaping wounds David Marquand miserably opined “it is hard to see why anyone outside the narcissistic ranks of the Labour Party should waste mental or emotional energy

worrying about its current state or future prospects. There is no mystery about the disease that is now killing it. Under Blair, it made a Faustian pact, not just with one devil but with two — neoliberalism in economics and charismatic populism in politics[9]”. 

 

Yet ironically enough it was under the same Blair hegemony that the term ‘community’ spread its tentacles across the UKpolitical discourse.  In particular it was noted how “Community workers have always been concerned with the ideological power of the concept of community. We acknowledge its potential to organise oppressed people for collective action and social change. So, with the emergence of Tony Blair and New Labour in the mid 1990s it came as no real surprise that they were quick to spot its inherent power. In his early speeches, Blair spoke repeatedly about the need to renew community to counter the growing fragmentation of life at local, national and even global levels[10]”.

 

So what it is specifically about “strong community” that would so assist Labour’s salvation and offer a signpost for a new generation?  Certainly one salient argument is that in practical policy terms it significantly allows the Party to play to its strengths.  We also need to acknowledge an underlying problem; encouraging people to listen when there is still an unfavourable association with Tony Blair and New Labour.  So a key challenge therefore is to be identified with something ‘fundamentally different’.

 

Perhaps the way forward is more obvious than first realised.  A huge reservoir and enrichment that Labour should utilise to and dwell upon in order to in build strong communities is to renew its marriage vows with the co-operative movement.  Co-operatives are based on the values of self-help, self-responsibility, democracy, equality, equity and solidarity. In the tradition of their founders, co-operative members believe in the ethical values of honesty, openness, social responsibility and caring for others.

 

Some have argued however that during the Thatcher onslaught the Co-operative movement was effectively destroyed in the 1980s, and what remains is being propelled by a neo-liberal tidal wave.  This argument has been powerfully rebutted by

Kieron Merrett as he contends “we are strongest when we focus on how co-operatives do better for people than private enterprises, putting people before profits. That is why the Labour left should embrace the Co-operative movement wholeheartedly[11]”.

 

Crucially Merrett also highlights how the very message and values of the Co-operative movement also allows a clear dividing line and distinction to be made from a Tory Party determined to shrink the state, whilst at the same time proclaiming salvation in the amorphous Big Society ideal[12].

 

‘It’s the community stupid’ – some practical examples

 

Turning to what “strong community” might actually look like in practice I draw upon empirical evidence from my experience as a Labour and Co-operative councillor. 

We should not cease to remind ourselves though that whatever level we represent the Labour Party, as branch member, councillor, MP or MEP we realise all too well just how much the odds can be stacked against us.  Not just the rantings of the right wing press that seek to slay us, but as Oscar Wilde so rightly stated ‘Socialism’s great, but it takes too many evenings’.  It’s hard and takes hours of hard slog often behind the scenes unnoticed,  as we seek to change to society, driven often by the vision of the public good, whether as a school governor, faithful attendee of the local branch meeting, manning the street stall or delivering the leaflets in the rain.

 

Whilst of course there are notable exceptions in the country, by and large the Tory way is easier and different.  No such lingering desire to be involved, to get stuck into those grassroots issues – it’s real lassaiz-faire, exemplified perfectly by Nicholas Ridley during the Thatcher hegemony when he proclaimed ‘local councils should meet just once a year to hand out contracts’.  One might well ask the Prime Minister how this notion fits in with his ‘Big Society?’

 

But what does a ‘strong community look like?  I would like to expand how in my own council ward in Broxtowe (Kimberley and Cossall) community initiatives have been successfully built (in particular between 2007 and 2011) campaigns run, with people empowered, leading in turn to much better results for Labour.  I am not for one minute saying I have the monopoly on ideas, I know up and down the country there are many instances where Labour councillors are getting their hands dirty, toiling away – often behind the scenes to build a better society.  I simply refer to my own experience simply as I can see initially where I got things wrong, and then more importantly how through changing the approach and vigorous campaigning, showing that in the end, it does actually serve to make a real difference.

 

I’ve been a Labour councillor in Broxtowe,Nottinghamsince 1991.  I’ve never enjoyed the luxury of a ‘safe seat’ and in the May 2007 local elections whilst I retained my seat, the other two seats in the three member ward went to the Tories and Lib Dems respectively.  

 

I recall Lord David Triesman when he was General Secretary of the Labour Party (and before he was ennobled) saying how Labour infamously lost the Brent East parliamentary By-election on 18 June 2003 because ‘we had lost our ability to campaign’.    This thought remained constantly with me. 

 

In 2007 I’d probably become a little complacent and perhaps taken voters in my communities a little for granted.   To correct this in the following four year spell between May 2007 and May this year what I can only describe as an avalanche of campaigning ensued in my council ward.   Below are just a few examples of the scores of campaigns that were run in and for the community:

 

 

 

 

  • Together with the then Labour MP in Broxtowe Nick Palmer we campaigned  for a new integrated transport system in Broxtowe.   We launched a huge survey in the local area which elicited close onto to one thousand replies and then we duly negotiated with three major companies Tesco, British Land and Veolia commit £500,000 to a project which has seen bus and tram services in Nottingham joined up, and providing vital services for residents in one particular area with little in the way of public transport http://www.thisisnottingham.co.uk/Letter-Praise-Phoenix-Park-Flyer-bus-service/story-12226921-detail/story.html

 

  • I now send out a monthly newsletter via e mail to 770 members of the public on e mail in my borough council ward, informing them of what’s going off in their local area.  Between 2007 and May this year I issued over 70 newsletters – see https://richardsrobinson.org.uk/work-in-broxtowe/

 

Together with 2 fellow hard working Labour council candidates in the local elections this year May 2011; the result of all our work in the community culminated in all three seats becoming Labour in Cossall & Kimberley (taking 2 seats off the Tories in the process)

https://richardsrobinson.org.uk/2011/05/election-results-special-kimberley-cossall-awsworth-trowell-news-update-information-service-friday-6-may-2011/ 

 

I might here emphasise the significance of ‘community’ is not just reflected in Labour’s ability to campaign at grassroots levels.  It’s very much about the quality of people’s relationships and environments, their ‘social capital’, their sense of tradition, place and reciprocity.

 

There’s a central lesson too stemming from community organising in that it’s essential to build enduring networks around a vision of the common good, bound together by a solidarity and purpose.  A stiff challenge we face against the materialistic mindset of the masses, but nevertheless we should not demur.

 

What I would say is that a strong community is one where there a strong “campaigning” activism!   Remember as well that it wasn’t for nothing that Thomas O’Neill, Sr affirmed all politics is local.

 

Labour will win again where we are strong, and we can be strong when we successfully work with and empower our local communities to thrive. 

We need to build the power of civil society to achieve the common good, and to the extent that Labour shares that goal it will surely benefit. 

 

What is a Good Society?

 

In recent history there’s probably no better place to start than The Compass publication in 2006 entitled ‘The Good Society’ which discusses some critical challenges for the left including how Labour develops progressive policies on health, crime and punishment, work life balance, race, immigration and so on[13].

 

There’s little doubt as the contributors to ‘The Good Society’ spell out that the good society is not defined by acquisition or through material prosperity, neither of which has led to personal fulfilment or satisfaction.  They do though delineate a path within our capabilities showing just how society can be renewed through the interaction of the democratic impulse for freedom, equality and solidarity[14].

 

At this juncture it is certainly appropriate to disabuse any sort of notion that the ‘Big Society’ can equate in any way to the good society.  Whilst admittedly Jonathan Chaplin has identified that the ‘Big Society” is far from being just a slogan and has developed a cogent powerful institutional driver right at the heart of the Coalition government in the form of the Office for Civil Society, he has at same time highlighted how four distinctive ‘big society’ policy goals which include administrative decentralization immediately serve to attract criticism.  The ‘Big Society’ being nothing more than pure privatisation with the goal of shrinking the state[15].

 

Yet in a timely intervention from Maurice Glasman he warns that as social democracy has become neither social nor democratic, this has in turn, led to Labour deserting this land, with the vacuum now being filled by the ‘Big Society’.  Nevertheless Glasman is equally adamant about how what the response should be and proclaims “Labour needs to develop the idea of a Good Society as its rival, and such a society would be built on relationships built on reciprocity, mutuality and solidarity, all the up and all the way down, in politics and within the economy[16]”. 

 

Just what a society embracing reciprocity, mutuality and solidarity might truly look like, encapsulating freedom and equality is clearly not going to be captured within parameters of one chapter in this book.  I find it incredibly difficult though to distance myself from Glasman’s compelling vision and analysis of where we need to be.  How we get there I suggest, brings me to my last argument, which whilst I accept may not prove universally popular is nonetheless an absolute non negotiable for Labour’s success – it must rediscover its relationship with God.

 

Where does God fit into the Good Society and strong communities?

 

Abraham Lincoln once said, ‘my concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God’s side’.   When we are genuinely concerned about the rights and welfare of all people, regardless of their race, ethnicity, class, gender, sexual orientation, religious affiliation, ability, or age — then it’s hard to argue we are not on God’s side. Socialists fight for these rights.

 

However awkward and uncomfortable it may be today for large swathes of the Labour movement to embrace and acknowledge a specifically Christian identity, Paul Bickley  has reminded us of an unmistakable “historical taxonomy of the key connections between Christianity and the labour movement[17]”.  Furthermore James Green has asked a very straightforward question “we don’t do God, but should we?[18]

 

Jon Cruddas then identifies “the problem with Labour is that it used to be religious and civic and it’s now secular and statist – and I think there’s something to that. Labour at its best was pluralistic. You had different classes, different faith traditions, different philosophical traditions, and the policy programmes were the resolution or the reckoning of those different traditions. Now you have a hollowed-out party which is about retaining power. There’s no policy architecture or infrastructure to provide a reckoning from different groups within it.  We need to return to our history, in terms of rebuilding that pluralism, rebuilding space where different traditions can rebuild and articulate their different propositions, and these can be resolved and respected in a tolerant manner, and a different policy agenda can be developed accordingly[19]”.

 

Whilst we know the Tories will always claim Christ as their own, the moderate Muslim Mehdi Hasan has unswervingly responded how “in word and deed, the son of God was much more left-wing than the religious right likes to believe[20]”.  Undeterred Hasan is emphatic “Love your enemies. Renounce your wealth. Pay your taxes. Help the poor. Cure the ill (for free). These are the hallmarks of a left-wing, socialist politics. What Jesus wouldn’t do is allow the rich to get richer, give a free pass to the bonus-hungry bankers and invade one foreign country after another. It is difficult to disagree with Wallis when he says: “The politics of Jesus is a problem for the religious right.[21]

 

To conclude it’s hardly a secret that the that the financial crash and the deficit that it generated is the focal point for the political background for the foreseeable future and certainly at the next General Election.

 

The title of this book and the ideas contained in it are however designed to propel us to a higher plane, to renew and refresh ourselves in opposition, ready to lift the Labour movement to an apogee.   A ‘Good Society’ and strong communities must be at its very core.

 

There then seems to me to be an extricable and interwoven link between a re-awakening and sense of an awareness of a living relationship with God and the benign implications for society.  The Peterson translation of Isaiah 58 reads “If you get rid of unfair practices, quit blaming victims, if you are generous with the hungry and start giving yourselves to the down-and-out your shadowed lives will be bathed in sunlight.

You’ll use the old rubble of past lives to build anew, rebuild the foundations from out of your past.  You’ll be known as those who can fix anything, restore the old ruins, rebuild and renovate, make the community liveable again[22]”.   (note the word community)!

 

Let’s do God, a good society and community again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Notes

 

1    Miles, Alice, The truth is that Lansley’s NHS plan doesn’t go far enough”, in New Statesman, 16 May 2011, p 23

 

2   Williams, Rowan, The government needs to know how afraid people are”, in New Statesman, 13 June 2011, p 4

 

 Ibid. p 4

 

4  see Anthony Parker / @anthillel Mar 22, 2011, Harnessing the new generation,

 http://www.labourlist.org/harnessing-the-new-generation 

 

5   Hasan, Mehdi, “Enough of these hazy, vacuous and contradictory attacks on Miliband”, in New Statesman, 30 May 2011, p 12.

 

6   see Miliband, Ed, preface, in “The Labour tradition and the politics of paradox”, The Oxford London seminars 2010-2011, eds Maurice Glasman, Jonathan Rutherford, Marc Stears and Stuart White, p 8

 

7   see Landrum, David, series forward, in Bickley, P, “Building Jerusalem? Christianity and the Labour Party”,  Bible Society,Swindon, 2010, p 1

 

8   see Reeves, Richard, (2009),  What next for Labour? Ideas for the

progressive left,    http://www.demos.co.uk/files/What_next_for_Labour_.pdf?1244746884 p 7

 

9  see Marquand, David, (2009), “Wait for the next StPaul”, in  What next for Labour? Ideas for the progressive left,   

http://www.demos.co.uk/files/What_next_for_Labour_.pdf?1244746884 p 87

 

10  see “Blair’s Community: Communitarian Thought and New Labour Community” in Development Journal (2008) 43(2): 259-261 http://cdj.oxfordjournals.org/content/43/2/259.extract

 

11   Merrett, Kieron  http://kieronam.net/?p=107 January 12, 2011

 

12   Ibid.

 

13   see Rutherford, Jonathan & Shah Hetan, in “The Good Society”, Compass programme for Renewal,Lawrence and Wishart Ltd, 2006

 

14   Ibid.  p 15 – 19

 

15   see Chaplin, Jonathan (2011) “Why a “Just Society” must also be a “Big Society”,

 http://www.cardus.ca/policy/article/2812/ 

 

16   Glasman, Maurce, ‘ Labour as a radical tradition’ in “The Labour tradition and the politics of paradox”, The Oxford London seminars 2010-2011, eds Maurice Glasman, Jonathan Rutherford, Marc Stears and Stuart White, p 27

17    Bickley, Paul, “Building Jerusalem? Christianity and the Labour Party”,  Bible Society,Swindon, 2010, p 7

 

18   Green, James (2011)  http://www.labourlist.org/we-dont-do-god-but-should-we

One might take note as well of the words of Andy Hawthorne OBE a British evangelist, author and founder of The Message Trust at the National Prayer Breakfast in Parliament in June 2011 when he argued that the “problem is not so much that Labour doesn’t do God, it’s that it doesn’t do Jesus”.  This in itself is a powerful narrative for the renewal of the party.

 

19    Cruddas, Jon (2011)       http://www.thecsm.org.uk/Articles/160983/Christian_Socialist_Movement/Articles/The_Common_Good/Issue_200_Feeling/Interview_with_Jon.aspx

 

20   Hasan, Mehdi (2010) http://www.newstatesman.com/religion/2010/12/jesus-god-tax-christ-health

 

21   Ibid.

 

22 Peterson, Eugene, “The Message The Old  Testament Prophets”Navpress,Colorado, Navpress, 2000, p 136

 

This article appeared in “What Next for Labour” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/What_next_for_Labour%3F 

 

 

 



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Go to Top