We need to have an honest conversation with the public about social care

28/09/2021, 10:07:45 AM

By Joanne Harding

This piece is part of a new book “Labour’s Reset: The Path Back to Power” which is being released today. The book looks at the barriers for voters in picking Labour, what the party can do in opposition to tackle these issues and the type of policy platform that would attract switchers to Labour at the election.

‘If you neglect physical infrastructure, you get roads full of potholes and buckling bridges, which prevent your economy functioning properly. The same is true if you fail to invest in social infrastructure.’ These  were the words Liz Kendall used as she addressed a conference of directors of social care back in April this year. I think we can all agree that social care has been neglected by successive governments for years. The question is what could and should Labour do to truly address what I believe to be one of the most difficult policy challenges of our times. One of the fundamental issues with social care is that people do not really understand what it is. It is incredibly difficult to define as it ranges from supporting a person to wash and eat, to administering medication, to safeguarding, protection of liberty and to end-of-life care. It is inextricably linked with health by virtue of some of the elements of personal care, yet it is so much more than health.

However, it does not have the same branding as the National Health Service (NHS) that we all recognise and hold dear to us as a beacon of all that is good. Politicians talk about health and social care, yet they continue to leave it out in the cold when it comes to policy and funding conversations. This lack of focus on social care is reflected in public attitudes – in polling conducted by Yonder for Labour Uncut, when respondents were presented with a list of 11 different policy and just 6% of voters picked social care as the highest priority.

It does not attract the same attention as a hero workforce and life-saving and ground-breaking treatments do. Nevertheless, make no mistake about it, social care encompasses every single one of these things and more.

Labour therefore has a role to play in changing the narrative among its members and the wider public. Maybe then, we can have a more honest conversation about the areas I feel we need to tackle if we are to reform and transform social care.

Funding reform

This will surely be considered the most contentious and difficult element of our policy work. If we truly want a publicly funded social care system in England, we need to establish how we are going to pay for it. Projected  growth on spending for social care is simply not in line with predicted growth pressures, which are rising at 3.7% annually in real terms. More than 1 million people aged 65 or over will require varying degrees of social care support by 2035; this is up from 783,000 individuals in 2015. As people live longer and advances in medicine and assistive technology support people to live with chronic and long-term health issues, greater strain will be put on an already creaking system.

We know we cannot simply stand still as we will have a predicted gap of £3.5 billion to fill by 2025 to maintain our existing standards of care, which are frankly failing too many people. Age UK reports that 1.5 million people living in the UK have an unmet care need and if current trends continue, this could grow to 2.1 million. Furthermore , the government have offered  short-term bungs over the years to paper over the cracks. Relying on a council tax precept and business rates cannot possibly be a sustainable funding model for an infrastructure that is so vital to a healthy society. It also creates inequity in local authorities that will be living with greater health inequalities and higher levels of poverty. Current provisions are  truly a postcode lottery.

Johnson’s statement to the House of Commons last week has done nothing to reassure those of us who live and breathe social care that reform is coming anytime soon. The  majority of the income generated by a regressive national insurance rise will not really go towards funding social care. For three years, all of the money will go towards easing the NHS backlog; in fact, only £5.4 billion of the £36 billion will head in the direction of social care. Councils may well be forced to raise council tax yet again in order to meet demand. Social care is in crisis right here, right now. The Tory Party’s talk of funding and reform are actually just warm words.

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Labour’s post-war greats, Attlee and Bevin, defined progressive patriotism. The party needs that spirit now

27/09/2021, 04:12:42 PM

by Mike Gapes

This piece is part of a new book “Labour’s reset: the path back to power” which Uncut will be launching at Labour conference . The book looks at the barriers for voters in picking Labour, what the party can do in opposition to tackle these issues and the type of policy platform that would attract switchers to Labour at the election.

In the eleven years since Labour was last in government, the UK and the world have seen a significant shift towards nationalist, inward looking policies.  There has been weakening of global multilateral institutions.  UK influence in the world and our “soft power” has been reduced principally by the self-harm of a hard Brexit and the acrimonious wrangling about the Northern Ireland Protocol.  But far more significant for the future of the world have been changes brought about by developments in the United States, as it moves erratically away from a global interventionist role; and by the continuing economic, and military rise of the Chinese Party/State with its authoritarian model and “Belt and Road” imperialism; by the turmoil in the Arab and Muslim world; the massive impact of the global Coronavirus pandemic, particularly in largely unvaccinated Latin America and Africa; and the accelerating and destructive impact of global warming.

Labour Prime Minister Clement Attlee and Foreign Secretary Ernest Bevin played a decisive role in creating the institutions of the modern era including the United Nations, with a permanent UK seat on the Security Council, and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, NATO. Those international institutions and others like the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, established after the Second World War, are now under severe challenge.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union thirty years ago and the ending of the Warsaw Pact, the Atlantic Alliance was successfully transformed from a Cold War defence institution into a political entity, now recognised as a regional security organisation by the United Nations. NATO enlarged to include the former GDR, Poland, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovenia, Croatia, Albania, North Macedonia and Montenegro. Many other countries worldwide including EU members Sweden, Finland, Austria, Malta and the Irish Republic have partnership arrangements with NATO.

NATO remains vital for peace and security in Europe. After the Trump shock, new US President Joe Biden claimed that “America is back’. His words provided reassurance but Biden’s betrayal of the women of Afghanistan has caused consternation amongst US allies worldwide.  Frontline NATO countries like Poland and the Baltic States face increasing cyber threats and aggressive behaviour by Putin’s Russia in Ukraine and elsewhere. It is no longer just France which questions whether Europe can depend upon the United States indefinitely for extended deterrence of Russian aggression.

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British moral strategic leadership: Previewing Rachel Reeves speech to Labour Conference 2021

26/09/2021, 10:35:22 PM

by Jonathan Todd

Economics is about storytelling as much as numbers. If the story persuades, the numbers do too. There is artistry to the dismal science.

Rachel Reeves knows the numbers. A former Bank of England economist, she knows how the economy works. A political realist, she knows what seats will sustain a Labour government.

The Labour sums need to add up. In a new book “Labour’s reset: the path back to power” that Uncut will be launching at Labour conference this week, we make a proposal for how Labour can finance a new set of spending commitments.

But the Shadow Chancellor’s conference speech is not an occasion for a forensic articulation of staying in the black. It is a time to tell the country a new story about itself.

This story might feature improved childcare, better homes, and a new relationship with business – potential building blocks of a Labour proposition that are articulated in the new Uncut book.

We do not pretend that all the ingredients that Reeves needs are in our book. There are two further that she might add: her own moral clarity and memorable phrases. Both of which Gordon Brown excelled in.

Tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime. Brown coined this resonate couplet from opposition.

The white heat of technology. With this phrase, Keir Starmer’s favourite Labour leader told a new national story from opposition.

Even if the levers of real change are exclusive to government, the language of politics can be shaped from opposition. But now our politics is dominated by government phrases: Levelling Up, Global Britain, Build Back Better.

Levelling Up. The intension and symbolism matter more politically than the outcomes. It is not about hard metrics like the Gini coefficient, it is about showing that the Tories care about the North and the Midlands, with this sentiment often embodied in shiny, new buildings.

Global Britain. In policy terms, even more vapid than Levelling Up. In political terms, it is about backing Britain. Who can be opposed to that?

Build Back Better. I think I heard Ed Miliband say this prior to it being a slogan of Joe Biden’s presidential campaign. Before it could really become Labour language, it was the title of the government’s growth plan. When the Tories aren’t shaping the language of politics, they are expropriating potential Labour terminology.

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Want Labour to be a ‘safe space for Jews’? Here are the three steps Labour must take

26/09/2021, 08:52:00 AM

by Emma Picken and Euan Philipps

This piece is part of a new book “Labour’s reset: the path back to power” which Uncut will be launching at Labour conference . The book looks at the barriers for voters in picking Labour, what the party can do in opposition to tackle these issues and the type of policy platform that would attract switchers to Labour at the election.

On October 29th, 2020, something took place that would have seemed inconceivable had it been 10 years earlier: the Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) found that the Labour Party had breached equalities law and had acted illegally in its treatment of Jews[1].

This outcome was in part due to the vicious culture that had been imported during the Corbyn years. More importantly, however, the party was already ripe for infestation with a culture that contained both antisemitic individuals and ideas. It had little or no defence against either.

The following piece will not rehash how appalling Jeremy Corbyn’s behaviour is or the depths of antisemitism  found within his fellow travellers. No one has plumbed these depths more than Labour Against Antisemitism  (LAAS), as our 20,000-page submission to the EHRC attests. Nor will we go over how Labour got itself into the position of being led by an antisemite; this has already been extensively and eloquently covered by David Hirsh in Contemporary Left Antisemitism , Dave Rich in The Left’s Jewish Problem, Alan Johnson and many others[2].

Rather, we will discuss the main areas Labour needs to address in the immediate present in order to make the party an environment where antisemitism  is no longer tolerated; how Labour can sincerely atone for the damage done to the Jewish community and its vocal allies; and how Labour can turn the ‘safe space for Jews’ soundbite into a truly secure environment for its Jewish members.

There are three elements that must all be put in place to finally rid the Labour Party of antisemitism .

The first is tackling antizionist antisemitism .

Following our extensive reporting of antisemitism , our observation in LAAS is that contemporary antisemitic discourse centres around those claiming only to be ‘antizionist’. However, antizionism is at the heart of the issue – and, in our experience, is without fail antisemitic. Thus, without tackling antizionist antisemitism , ‘tearing antisemitism  out by its roots’ is frankly doomed to failure. While internally within the Jewish community there will always be a small minority with antizionist views, the vast majority identify as Zionist, with 93% saying Israel plays a central part in their identity. Antizionist antisemitism  harms them deeply and multiple ways[3].

What must be done?

Firstly, the party must sever all ties with the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC). It is astonishing that a group so evidently steeped in antisemitism  is welcome within any antiracist movement; all the more so that this group is afforded so much influence within Labour policy on Israel that two out of the three leadership candidates in the last leadership elections backed the PSC pledges[4]. One of the candidates, Lisa Nandy, is now shadow Foreign Secretary[5].

There is extensive evidence of the extreme antisemitism  within the PSC[6], which stands opposed to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism  that Labour has adopted in full.

The unions, too, have not been aligned to such overt racism since the London dockers famously came out in support of Enoch Powell. The affiliation to the PSC of every single large union within Labour must be ended without delay. It is deeply ironic that Frances O’Grady feels bound to discuss ways in which the unions need to face up to their racist past, while ignoring the flourishing racism of today[7].

Secondly, Labour must firmly close its doors to the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement (BDS), whose banner of ‘social justice’ serves to disguise a darker aim: the eradication of Israel. BDS initiatives remove agency from Jewish business, students and academics in the diaspora. These have no impact on Israeli governmental policies, however they are a conduit for some of the most vicious antisemitic intimidation seen since the 1930s.

No right-minded Labour member would admit to supporting BDS if the above points were included in its discussion on racism, and especially not if the movement ever reached its goal – so why is this tolerated? Why is this antizionist antisemitism  treated differently to other kinds of racism? In our view, the party should not treat adherents to BDS any differently to any other racist.

What many miss is the fact that BDS is both bigoted and discriminatory. It holds Israel to standards not required by any other democratically elected sovereign state. It’s clarion call of ‘to the River and the sea’ is the call for the destruction of Israel – the claiming of the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea; the state of Israel. In fact, the logo on posters and T-shirts for the BDS and it’s sister organisation, The Palestine solidarity committee, clearly shows the entirety of Israel as being claimed for a Palestinian state. No two state solution or shared ownership, just the eradication of Israel.  The Labour Party must find a better way to legitimately support the cause of the Palestinian people without calling for the destruction of Israel and the alienation of the majority of Anglo Jewry.

The second element that the Labour Party needs to deal with is the appearance of its MPs and their tacit endorsement of antisemitism  at Israel/Palestine demonstrations.

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Labour is losing women. It could cost the party the next election. It doesn’t have to be this way

22/09/2021, 09:45:33 PM

by Nicole Lampert

This piece is part of a new book “Labour’s reset: the path back to power” which Uncut will be launching at Labour conference next week. The book looks at the barriers for voters in picking Labour, what the party can do in opposition to tackle these issues and the type of policy platform that would attract switchers to Labour at the election.

Labour is losing women. It is losing its female activists, its putative politicians, its core voters. And the trans debate could even see it lose the country at large. Again.

There’s a female MP, Rosie Duffield, who is too frightened to appear at Labour conference because so many trans rights activists – whipped up into a fury by people within the party – have threatened violence against her.

A long-awaited statement yesterday by Keir Starmer was the usual fence sitting – asserting the Party supports the Equality Act which legislates for single sex spaces but adding that trans people should mainly be allowed in them – while also reasserting plans for self-identification. They leadership must have hoped that this would dampen down the row but, in fact, it served to only add fuel to the fire. Did they learn nothing from the Brexit fudge which managed to infuriate both sides and lost them votes from Brexiters and Remainers?

Women’s rights are being removed all over the world; in the last few weeks we’ve seen it from America to Afghanistan. And that is why women will not take this lying down, even from a party that they have always supported.

Sara, whose parents and grandparents were Labour councillors, and has campaigned on doorsteps for the party since she was a child, calls it: ‘The toxic nail in the coffin of my support for Labour. I cannot support Labour because of this.’

Joan, who with her partner made up the only gay couple in her CLP, says: ‘When I asked for help from our Labour candidate in keeping hospital wards single sex, I was told that I was, ‘irrationally prejudiced against trans people.’ I’d rather spoil my ballot than vote for Labour.’

Nicola, a Labour veteran, is almost in tears when she tells me: ‘The Tories are not competent. They are pushing more people into poverty. But I can’t vote for a party that prioritises the interests – political, economic, social – of males over the reality of women’s experiences.’

While Sally, a trans woman, says the debate feels equally poisonous for the trans community. ‘Self ID is a long-term negative for trans people because the barrier to a protected characteristic is too low and Labour needs to recognise that,’ she says. ‘Look at things like Wi Spa in America [when a self-identifying trans woman with a history of sex offences exposed their penis in a room full of naked women and girls]. People are beginning to think we’re all perverts and someone needs to talk about this sensibly.’

I haven’t given any of them their real names because this is the most toxic row that Labour is involved in today. Women don’t feel just ignored but demonised. They are being pushed out of the party and, in the wider world, losing their jobs. A writer friend lost work solely because she followed a gender critical feminist on Twitter. Aside from a brave few, Labour MPs are terrified about speaking up, because they know trans rights activists will then demand they are sacked and the leadership will do nothing to stop the bullying. Even the trans people who speak up against the activism orthodoxy are labelled transphobes.

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Revealed: New poll shows 1 in 4 non-Labour voters considering backing Starmer but they want a decisive break from the Corbyn era – 60% say expel Corbyn if he doesn’t apologise over anti-Semitism

19/09/2021, 09:24:00 PM

by Atul Hatwal

New research conducted for Labour Uncut by pollster Yonder (the new name for Populus) reveals that just over 1 in 4 non-Labour voters (26%) would consider voting Labour at the next election. But Jeremy Corbyn is still a huge negative with 66% of this group worried about the continued influence of Corbynites in Labour and 60% saying his expulsion from Labour, if he doesn’t apologise over anti-Semitism, would make them more likely to vote Labour.

The polling, conducted by Yonder between the 13th and 14th September with 2,010 respondents, revealed that 1 in 7 Conservative voters (14%), over half of Lib Dems (53%) and 1 in 4 SNP (26%) are considering voting Labour. Based on Labour’s current standing in the polls, attracting even half of those thinking about backing Keir Starmer and Labour would send the party into government with a vote share in the mid-forties.

However, Labour’s potential voters want a clear break from the Corbyn era.  A series of statements articulating potential reasons for not voting Labour, drawn from previous research, were put to this group and despite a clear appetite for policies such as higher spending on public services and a higher minimum wage, Jeremy Corbyn and his legacy remain toxic.

A net +39% agreed with the statement “I didn’t want Jeremy Corbyn to be Prime Minister and worry that people like him are still too influential in Labour”

Next week, at Labour conference Jeremy Corbyn will once again be in the spotlight and much of the debate about Labour will be defined through the prism of the former leader.

He’s currently suspended from the parliamentary party for saying that the extent of anti-Semitism in the party was “dramatically over-stated” following the publication of the EHRC report into Labour and anti-Semitism, but he had already been readmitted to the party at the point the report was published and so, as a party member not a Labour MP, will be speaking at various Labour conference fringe events. He’ll have a political and media retinue trailing along after him, distracting from the main conference, in the manner that Boris Johnson used to at Conservative conference in the early to mid-2010s.

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This was a self-serving reshuffle designed only to level up Boris Johnson’s standing in the Tory party

16/09/2021, 10:32:38 PM

by David Talbot

For someone who supposedly dislikes upsetting people, the Prime Minister has a unique way of showing it. During his twenty six months in power, Johnson has sacked twenty seven Cabinet Ministers – an attrition rate worse than Donald Trump’s tumultuous administration.

The long-mooted reshuffle was previewed as “uniting and levelling up the whole country”. The reshuffle confirmed, though, if nothing else, that the only levelling up the Prime Minister is preoccupied with is with himself. Johnson has never sought to assemble the strongest possible Cabinet to the benefit of the country. He is perpetually afraid of being outshone, which has directly led to the lack of clarity on the central purpose of his government. Despite most of the media gushing that the Prime Minister was ‘ruthless’ he has still surrounded himself with Brexit and personal loyalists.

The Prime Minister fell back on his oldest tried and tested trick; to please the party faithful. Nadine Dorries may well have been an effective and diligent Health Minister during the pandemic, but her views on cultural issues are well-known and demonstrably offensive to many. Indeed, if her promotion was based on the success of her book sales, as the Defence Secretary has suggested, then – to use a Johnsonian turn of phrase – one can object purely on literary grounds alone.

This is a government which, having taken credit for the successful vaccination rollout that the NHS devised and then implemented, is bereft of ideas and purpose. If, as reports suggest, the Prime Minister truly is intent on fighting the next general election on Brexit – and supposedly how the dastardly EU would scupper ‘freeports’, for instance – then this repeat will be much like the digital ABBA concerts for once popular concepts which should have long since been retired. Leave won the argument, many years ago, it needs to own it, and start delivering on its promise to voters which either backed it in 2016 or wanted rid of the ongoing trauma of it in 2019.

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The west is dead, long live the west!

23/08/2021, 10:32:16 PM

by Jonathan Todd

“The ground under the German town of Erftstadt is torn apart like tissue paper by flood waters; Lytton in British Columbia is burned from the map just a day after setting a freakishly high temperature record; cars float like dead fish through the streets-turned-canals in the Chinese city of Zhengzhou.

“The most terrible thing,” according to a Leader in The Economist a month ago, “about the spectacular scenes of destruction that have played out around the world over the past weeks is that there is no safe place from which to observe them.”

In the intervening period, safety has deteriorated, for different reasons, in Afghanistan. The US could have acted to prevent this. Other NATO members could have better supported the US toward this end.

But even if Taliban recapture of the country had been prevented (or, at least, delayed), we would still be awaiting a durable settlement between Afghanistan’s warring factions. In the world we are in, we hope for the same.

In both scenarios, we wait for a reconciliation that has been illusive for decades. One comes with more deaths for NATO soldiers. The other with more refugees for NATO countries. There are no perfect options.

We arrived with the option that we did because the US, the indispensable nation, decided that it is dispensable. Or, more precisely, American interests are less dispensable than non-American interests.

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Why is Keir Starmer playing the Orange card?

02/08/2021, 10:48:44 PM

by Kevin Meagher

You might have missed it because it didn’t really register in the British media (quelle surprise), but Keir Starmer’s trip to Belfast last month caused something of a stir.

While Starmer used the trip to meet victims of the Troubles and to voice his support for the controversial Northern Ireland Protocol – chiding Boris Johnson for not being ‘straight’ with voters in the process – he also dismissed any prospect of Irish unity and indicated that he strongly backs Northern Ireland remaining part of the United Kingdom.

In a tough interview with the BBC’s new Northern Ireland political editor, Enda McLafferty, the Labour leader was quizzed about how support for holding a border poll – the colloquial term for a referendum in Irish unification – might be measured, perhaps by the performance of pro or anti unity parties in an assembly election?

Starmer replied: ‘I don’t think that’s a particularly accurate way of measuring it.’

Really? Surely, it’s the most accurate way of accessing whether there is support for a change in Northern Ireland’s constitutional position? Each of the party’s views on the matter are well-established, so it offers a pretty good measure of the state of the debate. Notwithstanding the fact we have an assembly election next May.

McLafferty pressed Starmer for further clarification. ‘I think there have to be conditions,’ before any vote could be held, he said. ‘I think there have to be lots of discussions. Look, I don’t think [a border poll] is in sight and this is a very hypothetical discussion.’

Asked whether he would campaign with unionists in the event of a vote, Starmer replied: ‘I personally, as leader of the Labour Party, believe in the United Kingdom, strongly, and want to make the case for the United Kingdom, strongly, and will be doing that.’

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In the most important union election in decades, Coyne is the only choice to rehabilitate Unite and Labour

10/07/2021, 09:28:41 PM

by Rob Marchant

This is not an idle claim. In the 1980s, the unions were still largely regarded as centrist ballast against the worst excesses of a hard left spearheaded by figures such as Derek Hatton, Ted Knight, Eric Heffer, and Tony Benn. But they are so no longer: over the last decade, unions have been way to the left of the party, and that has had a major impact on its political direction.

And never, prior to Corbynism, has the party been so much under the thumb of a single union leader. Len McCluskey’s place-people sat for five years at the heart of power in the party.

Admittedly, it is less so now – scandal-hit McCluskey is now a busted flush and Unite in an interregnum until the new leader is chosen – but that could easily turn out to be a temporary state of affairs. Choose the wrong leader and, doubt it not, there will be a return to the bad old days.

At this point there is the clearest of choices: forward into a world where corruption, far-left politics and what can only be described as political blackmail become a thing of the past in the party; or backwards, Unite once again dragging Labour towards an electoral abyss and providing a rallying-point – and, most importantly, deep pockets – for the far left.

Its propaganda. Its vexatious prosecutions. Its expensive-yet-futile legal defences of its chosen sons and daughters and its vanity projects. All areas on which it openly squanders its members’ subs.

Gerard Coyne has not only shown himself an honourable candidate, looking to wipe out corruption in the face of terrible attacks on him personally and professionally (you may recall he was sacked by McCluskey in 2017, on apparently trumped-up charges). But he is self-evidently the only candidate interested in prioritising the labour rights of Unite’s members over far-left politicking.

Yes, it is a relief that McCluskey’s most obviously-annointed successor, the tainted Howard Beckett – currently suspended from Labour after a race-tinged tweet about Priti Patel and previously embroiled in a miners’ compensation fund scandal every bit as dodgy as that of another Corbynite, Ian Lavery MP – has withdrawn.

But the two remaining candidates, Steve Turner and Sharon Graham, despite seeming marginally less combative towards the Labour Party under Keir Starmer than Beckett, both have pretty much exactly the same far-left politics as him. Furthermore, after the deal Turner did with him to drop out, it seems a reasonable bet that Beckett will have a significant role in any Unite led by him.

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