Posts Tagged ‘equality’

Uncut Review: New Labour’s Old Roots, edited by Patrick Diamond

10/02/2015, 08:36:13 AM

by Jonathan Todd

“This is the culmination of a long period in which the voice of moderate opinion in the Labour Party has been drowned by the clamour of an active and articulate minority”. Reading Atul Hatwal recently on Uncut on the monstering of Blairites and humouring of leftists, this feels a commentary on our times. But it comes from the Campaign for Democratic Socialism’s (CDS) 1962 manifesto.

As Patrick Diamond notes in the newly updated version of New Labour’s Old Roots, which he edits, CDS was “formed in response to the need for a more organised centre-right in the party at parliamentary and constituency level”. This paints CDS as a proto Progress. But I was intrigued to discover from Diamond’s research that CDS was backed by an elderly R. H. Tawney, irreproachable Labour royalty.

If Tawney, who did as much as anyone to have Labour dance to the equality beat, supported CDS then it cannot have been akin to the insubstantial, narrow caste that Progress is sometimes characterised as. Involved with this is the implication, which Diamond challenges, that New Labour has only shallow roots in the party.

“The key argument of the collection,” he writes, “is that New Labour is less of an historical aberration than its critics alleged; rather it is possible to trace a ‘common heritage’ between New Labour and earlier modernising traditions in the party … There was a shared commitment to ‘conscience and reform’, underpinned by the ideal of national renewal and the creation of a ‘New Britain’ which animated Labour’s victories in 1929, 1945, 1964 and 1997; as such, New Labour should be seen as, ‘part of a revisionist thread of British social democratic politics’ (Driver and Martell, 2006: 23).”


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Tenacious, principled, and effective, Jim Dobbin fought for the marginalised and forgotten

07/09/2014, 08:36:35 PM

by Kevin Meagher

Truly, Jim Dobbin was one of Parliament’s nice guys. A quiet and genial man, he was also a principled and effective Member of Parliament and tireless campaigner. His sad death today at 73, while on a Council of Europe trip to Poland, is a huge loss to a range of issues and causes that could always count on Jim as a reliable supporter.

A coal miner’s son from Fife, Jim was a committed Catholic and, as Ed Miliband has noted, his faith informed every aspect of his politics.

As chairman of the all-party pro-life group, Jim nailed his colours firmly to the mast on all the most contentious issues; abortion, euthanasia and same sex marriage. He pursued what he believed in tenaciously, but respectfully towards those he disagreed with.

The news section of his website tells its own tale: Gaza, better palliative care, audio-visual facilities on buses for blind and partially-sighted people, better cancer awareness, support for those with dementia, help for the disabled. Jim was pro-life is the very widest sense of the term.

Indeed, like all the best backbenchers, he was an active campaigner on overlooked issues. Whether it was championing better polio immunisation for children in Syria, or calling for an annual Windrush Day to remember the contribution of the first-generation Caribbean community, Jim Dobbin took an interest in the marginalised and forgotten.

As a lobbyist, I dealt with him on many occasions and my abiding impression of him was as a wise, kind and unfailing courteous man. But like all softly-spoken Scots in Labour politics, there was steel there too. Quiet and modest, but tough and wily with it.

I once sat in his constituency office trying to persuade Jim to back a controversial wind farm project. He smiled as he explained why there was no chance of him backing it, but helpfully went through how the scheme could be improved. His advice was gratefully received.


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As the government abandons women, where is Labour on equality?

09/04/2012, 12:00:38 PM

by Mike Eakins

The 27th April 2011 was a missed opportunity for the Labour party. On that day the debate surrounding gender inequality did, briefly, rear its head at the forefront of the British political agenda.

David Cameron’s quip advising Angela Eagle to “calm down, dear” brought two distinct reactions with many in the Labour party outraged at the prime minister’s remark. Those with profiles to enhance such as MP Heidi Alexander asserted that “people will rightly be asking how someone with such disgraceful views came to be selected as a Conservative candidate in the first place… David Cameron should apologise and make clear that there is no room for sexism in Britain today”. At the same time some commentators berated those on the left for overreacting to what they insisted was nothing more than a humorous remark.

Amidst all the posturing and prevaricating Yvette Cooper was the sole frontbench Labour voice to look deeper into the prime minister’s comments and question whether they were symbolic of a wider “blind spot” that this government has in relation to women.

In an interview with the New Statesman, the shadow home secretary described what she called a “toxic combination” between the traditional conservative view that the woman’s place is in the home, and the liberal objective to withdraw the state from family life.

The lack of analysis of what lay behind Cameron’s attitude towards women is an indication of how the world in which the equality debate now operates is one of tax policies centred on pasties, government ministers taking blame for individual stupidity, funding scandals, fuel panic and George Galloway MP.


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This Tory-Lib Dem government is particularly clobbering women

09/12/2010, 07:00:28 AM

by Sally Bercow

Women don’t matter to this government. This is not a sweeping, attention-grabbing, rhetorical assertion, but a shameful reality. The cold, hard truth is that women will bear the brunt of the cuts to benefits, jobs and services. The Tory-Lib Dem government’s policies will bring about a huge reduction in the standard of living and the financial independence of millions of women throughout the country.

As Yvette Cooper has highlighted time and again, the comprehensive spending review, combined with the measures announced in June’s “emergency” budget, mean that women will be clobbered much harder than men. Indeed, she went as far as to say “This is the worst attack on women in the entire history of the welfare state”.

In government, our party did much to advance the cause of women’s equality: increasing maternity pay, improving maternity rights, introducing the minimum wage, boosting women’s pensions, creating more flexible jobs and extending childcare and support. Doubtless, there was more we could (and should) have done – notably to close the gender pay gap – but nonetheless it is a record of which we can be proud. Now, however, the government’s policies and savage cuts to welfare benefits and public services will not only halt the progress made on gender equality but turn back the clock in the most frightening fashion. (more…)

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Full equality will only be achieved when civil partnerships are recognised as marriage, writes Waheed Alli

27/07/2010, 09:30:58 AM

As our party makes the transition from government to opposition, it seems that everyone is suddenly ‘reflecting’: on the failures and successes of our time in government, on the choices now facing our movement, on the type of leader we want to elect. With the immediate responsibilities of power lifted, we’ve found a little more space in which to see the bigger picture.

Welcome to my world.

Despite a lifelong relationship with the Labour party, I have never worked in the front line of politics. Over the last thirteen years, I continued my work in television and in business. And when I contributed to debates in the Lords, it was only if I thought I had something unique to add to the discussion.

For me, then, it didn’t take an election defeat to see the bigger picture. With the day-to-day agony of Westminster always at one remove, I felt more aware of the bigger, longer journey that we were taking.


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