Posts Tagged ‘Callum Anderson’

2018 must be the year Labour’s progressives set out their vision for Britain

21/01/2018, 09:47:18 PM

by Callum Anderson

Labour’s progressives would be forgiven for feeling weary from the way British political discourse has developed over the past few years.

Having been ejected from office in 2010, we have too often been forced onto the back foot – pre-occupied with defending the last Labour government’s record from opponents on both Left and Right.

Meanwhile, Conservative-led austerity – based on a failed economic theory – neither eliminated the deficit as promised nor restructured the economy such that it was not heavily reliant on financial services.

Instead, Britain has been subjected to a lost decade resulting in stagnant wages, a significant rise in the use of food banks, as well as homelessness, child poverty and insecure work.

Yet because progressives were too occupied with defending past actions, valuable time has been lost in addressing the long-term challenges facing Britain’s economy and society, and, with it, regaining the trust of the electorate.

Moreover, opposition and suspicion as to what the new influx of members into the Labour Party has meant has given the impression – fairly or unfairly – that progressives are against a whole host of things, but not in favour of very much.

This should change.

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Britain’s EU referendum must be fought on the future

02/02/2016, 10:45:36 PM

by Callum Anderson

As David Cameron edges closer to a final agreement with the European Commission and the other 27 Member States, both Leave and Remain campaigns struggle to wrest control and momentum ahead of a possible plebiscite this summer.

Whenever the referendum takes place, Britons will have to make their biggest decision for more than a generation. One that should be definitive and non-reversible. One that will ultimately decide Britain’s place in the twenty-first century.

Opinion polls – if we still trust them – have been highly volatile and are likely to remain so, with challenges such as terrorism and the migrant crisis looming large.

It, of course, goes without saying that Britain Stronger In Europe, backed by organisations such as British Influence and Labour’s In for Britain, must continue to make a positive case for Britain’s membership in the EU and call out the myths spread by the Eurosceptics.

The economic benefits – jobs, trade and investment – must be messages unceasingly repeated to citizens on the doorstep.

Equally, as Jim Murphy articulated superbly last summer, Britons must be reminded that the EU has not only been a free-trade area but also responsible for one of the great moral triumphs of our time: the establishment of democracy and the rule of law in the south and east of Europe.

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The battle for Britain’s place in the world starts now

22/06/2015, 10:47:41 PM

by Callum Anderson

The election has passed, the Labour (and Liberal Democrat) leadership contests are in full swing and the Queen has made her speech at the State Opening of Parliament.

And as has been well documented over the last month, amongst the Bills announced was the EU Referendum Bill – a commitment to giving the British people a vote on the UK’s EU membership by the end of 2017.

It was passed with an overwhelming majority of 544-53 last week.

Of course, in many ways, this is no surprise.

The tide has largely turned within the Labour camp on the concept of a referendum: the three frontrunners in the leadership contest having reversed Ed Miliband’s opposition to an EU referendum, acknowledging the inevitability that the British people wanted to have their say on whether Britain continues its membership in the EU.

A myriad of polls have shown either a decent poll for the retaining membership: YouGov poll revealing ‘record support’ among Britons for staying in the EU, while a British Future survey recently found, up to 46.8 per cent of Britons would vote to stay in the EU, as opposed to the 40.3 per cent on the contrary.

But, of course, one of the many things the 2015 General Election taught us was that we must not slavishly and unquestioningly believe opinion polls and so, therefore, we pro-Europeans must reject any notion of complacency towards the task that now stands before us.

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Labour must use the next five years to modernise

13/05/2015, 05:52:13 PM

by Callum Anderson

Labour’s defeat has undoubtedly kicked off the most significant period of soul-searching within the party for a generation.

The general election saw a clear and total rejection of ‘Prime Minister Miliband’ and a Labour government led by him. Indeed, the defeat was so clear that we have lost our would-be chancellor and foreign secretary.

But whilst the finger pointing and blame loading is, in some ways, the nature direction of a party that has suffered losses across all three parts of Great Britain, it is essential that rather than this, we, as a party, dust ourselves off and begin to consider how we modernise and rebuild for the years that lie immediately ahead.

The first step will be to truly come to terms with not only with the election defeat itself (particularly why swing voters ended up siding with the Conservatives), but, actually, with the entire period of 2008-2015.

By far the largest error of this time was allow the macroeconomic argument to be led and defined by the Conservatives (and, partly, by the Liberal Democrats). This ultimately resulted fixing the whole concept of ‘Labour spending too much’ as the public’s mainstream view, which reared its head in the final Leader’s Question Time on 30 April.

Thus, the most pressing and overwhelming challenge facing the next Labour leader and shadow chancellor will be in devising a compelling economic narrative of progressive fiscal responsibility, whilst resolutely holding on to our core principles of self-improvement, fairness and equality of opportunity.

Equally, the Labour mainstream must also face the reality that it has fallen entirely out of sync with voters north of the border, which has resulted in the SNP being the standard bearers of Scottish voters. With Cameron likely to further stir up English nationalism that will lead to more of the Scotland vs the rest that we saw too much of in the last Parliament, Labour must be the vehicle of fair and sensible constitutional change.

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A big argument on a big issue. Tony Blair showed Labour the way on Europe

08/04/2015, 10:28:09 AM

by Callum Anderson

As Labour’s most successful leader and prime minister, it has always struck me as odd (and rather self-defeating) that Tony Blair continues to be relatively unloved by the Labour mainstream.

Respected? Yes. But for a winner of three general elections, Mr Blair fails to stir the levels of positive emotions by the Labour faithful – in stark contrast to the cast majority of many Conservatives’ slavish adoration for Margaret Thatcher – even twenty five years after the end of her premiership.

In what could be a unique characteristic of the Left, too much analysis of Blair’s legacy focuses on the Iraq war and not enough on domestic successes (minimum wage, investment in schools and the NHS anyone?).

Yet, despite all this, as Steve Richards astutely observed, Mr Blair showed, once again, how he “remains the best communicator in British politics”.

As Mr Blair ventured, for the first time, into the 2015 general election campaign on Tuesday morning, we were reminded of the huge scope for a positive and patriotic argument regarding the UK’s position in Europe and, indeed, the world.

Not only did he make short, punchy jabs at Labour’s opponents – correctly asserting that the issue of the UK’s membership of the EU as “too important” to be treated as a “sop” to opponents, as David Cameron has done in response to the rise of UKIP; and UKIP’s nationalistic tendencies as “ugly” – but also made what was in all probability the most coherent case for Britain’s EU membership.

Indeed, with the Conservatives wheeling out clichés such as ‘Long Term Economic Plan’ and ‘securing a strong economy’, Mr Blair shrewdly highlighted that an EU referendum would cause chaos in the British economy. Any referendum would destabilise businesses, endangering inward investment into the UK, as Conservative MP Mark Garnier, JP Morgan and eight in ten small and medium sized businesses have all warned.

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UKIP and the Greens are united by one thing: voodoo economics

17/03/2015, 09:55:30 AM

by Callum Anderson

Just a few weeks remain of the 2010-2015 UK Parliament. On Wednesday, the coalition government rolls its dice one last time, in an attempt to woo undecided voters.

Meanwhile last weekend, Ed Miliband unveiled Labour’s election pledge card at Birmingham’s ICC. The first two pledges – building a strong economic foundation and raising the higher living standards for working families – have sought to serve as indicators of Labour’s simultaneous commitments to fiscal prudence and growing the economy.

Indeed, it is the economy that will decide this election, with Mr Miliband’s Labour set to ask the electorate that famous question: “are you better off than you were five years ago?”

Whilst much of the scrutiny has rightly been reserved for the main three Westminster parties, it is the economic policies of the two most significant ‘insurgent’ parties – UKIP and the Green Party – that serve as the most unknown factor of the election.

So, where do UKIP and the Greens stand on economic policy?

Traditionally, UKIP has positioned itself as a libertarian party. However over the last year, in pursuit of widening its appeal, the party has drifted leftwards on economics, if not in social affairs. The UKIP of 2010 offering a flat income tax is a distant memory. But the result has been the same: economic illiteracy.

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Labour must champion the expansion of the European single market

05/02/2015, 11:02:04 PM

by Callum Anderson

With a new set of European Commissioners, along with Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, having taken their posts in Brussels last November, the next five years could prove to be highly decisive Britain’s future within the European Union.

But, besides the ‘British question’, one of the biggest items on the Commission’s agenda will be how to effectively generate and sustain economic growth for its member states, so that they are all in a position to benefit from unimpeded export markets.

The single market has undoubtedly brought greater wealth and prosperity to its member states. Research has shown that the single market has increased EU GDP by at least two or three per cent since 1993, with exports and foreign direct investment receiving a particular boost in this time.

Indeed, lowering or completely removing trade barriers has created cost advantages compared to our international competitors, as well as intensifying competition within the single market itself.

Deutsche Bank has stated that reductions of barriers to intra-EU trade has also made the countries in the EU a more attractive place for investment by foreign firms. There are a whole host of UK-specific examples which illustrate this point.

More recently, the European Commission estimates that the EU’s Services Directive has already led to benefits of €100 billion (0.8 per cent of EU GDP).

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A British ‘Grand Coalition’ would be destined for failure

23/01/2015, 04:46:01 PM

by Callum Anderson

The 2015 general election campaign is now slowly in full swing. With four months to go, many of the electorate are already beginning to tire of the petty point-scoring between the party leaders about the leadership debates.

Yet, the answer to the question former prime minister Ted Heath famously asked: ‘Who governs Britain?’ could be rather inconclusive come 8th May.

The opinion polls suggest that this election will be too close to call, with some suggesting we are entering an era of four, five or maybe even six party politics – though Labour Uncut’s editor Atul Hatwal’s makes a set of very plausible predictions.

But whatever happens, the implications for our democracy could be enormous.

It is highly unlikely that either Labour or the Conservatives will gain quite enough seats to gain a majority in Parliament. Parliamentary arithmetic will determine whether either party is best placed to seek to form a minority administration or enter a coalition, or confidence-and-supply arrangement with someone such as the Liberal Democrats or Scottish.

Yet there are some such as Ian Birrell and Mary Dejevsky who claim that a UK Grand Coalition – that is a coalition between Labour and the Conservatives – should not be fled out. They argue that the fact that both parties are currently marooned in the low 30s in terms of share of the vote, the two main parties would put their differences aside to govern in the national interest.

Does such an arrangement have a post-war precedent elsewhere? Yes.

Will it happen in Britain in 2015. No.

In Germany, a so-called ‘Grand Coalition’ (or, colloquially, GroKo) has been the principal form of government in the twenty-first century. Between 2005 and 2009, followed by the current administration since 2013, Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) have shared power alongside the Social Democrats (SDP).

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Ed’s aides failed him on anti-Ukip strategy

17/12/2014, 06:13:51 PM

by Callum Anderson

Whilst Nigel Farage was throwing back pints of lager and glasses of wine and champagne on Channel 4, Ed Miliband and his closest aides were reeling from yet another awkward episode on immigration.

On a day that was supposed to represent an opportunity for the leader of the opposition to portray himself as the prime minister in-waiting, what instead occurred was a series of deflections by Miliband about that document, culminating in him entirely distancing himself from it.

In short, Miliband’s closest aides failed him.

Yet it wasn’t through actually leaking the 33-page private strategy document that failed him. It was the contents of that document which did.

Whilst the document correctly identifies immigration as the issue people most often cite when explaining support for UKIP, it makes several mistakes insofar as stating that any messaging around immigration should always be done in conjunction with other policy areas, such as health and housing. Doing this, the theory goes, will enable activists and candidates to tilt conversation away from uncomfortable, but frankly needed, exchanges about immigration, in favour of ‘comfort-zone’ topics of conversation.

Or, in other words, activists and candidates should do their best to entirely avoid the concerns of voters, and talk about traditional, safe Labour issues.

This is a dangerous game to play.

It is clear that Labour will always be facing an uphill struggle on immigration. The ultimately flawed policy of allowing the so-called A8 (i.e. the Eastern European countries which joined the EU in 2004) to arrive without any initial border controls has tarnished Labour’s credibility on migration issues.

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Will the Pro-European Labourites please stand up?

29/10/2014, 09:28:14 AM

by Callum Anderson

Just when you thought that the subject of the EU would, at least, momentarily take a place on the back-burner, it came screaming back onto Twitter, our newspapers and television screens.

First, there’s been the case of the EU budget and the UK’s prospective £1.7 billion surcharge, an additional contribution to the EU budget – whilst the likes of France and Germany are set to gain rebates of £801 million and £614 million respectively. The prospect of the UK coughing up more money to the EU, when it is already one of the biggest contributors already, as well as effectively handing over money to equally rich Member States is undoubtedly a difficult one.

The prime minister has taken the opportunity to appear as morally outraged as possible, taking a progressively harder line, stating in the House of Commons that Britain would pay ’no way near’ what the European Commission wants them to.

But the emerging facts are yet again highlighting David Cameron’s school boy approach to EU diplomacy. It is beginning to become clear that the prime minster, the chancellor and HM Treasury knew of the likely additional payment that would be required of them. Furthermore, not only did it appear that the Dutch government, who are also required to contribute an extra £506 million to the EU budget, would pay their own surcharge, but that they had also made contingency plans in preparation for their likely additional contributions.

Second, the topic of immigration was brought into the limelight, with the Defence Secretary Michael Fallon stating that he UK could be “swamped” by EU migrants – ignoring the fact that Kent, where Mr Fallon’s constituency lies, was according to the 2011 census 89.1 per cent White British. Not exactly swamped.

Yet it has become clear that there is little appetite among other European Member States for the significant treaty change required to restrict the freedom of movement, with that ever important player Angela Merkel stating that she was wholly against restricting this freedom.

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