Posts Tagged ‘Hazel Blears’

‘Aspirational socialism.’ Again.

20/01/2020, 09:55:39 PM

The big mistake political campaigners often make when they come up with slogans for their candidates is hubris.

They assume that the pithy little phrase they have dreamt up to encapsulate their candidate’s credo is an original. A gem they have found in the rough which they will polish until it shines.

To her detractors, she’s the ‘continuity Corbyn’ candidate, but it seems Rebecca Long-Bailey might be drawing inspiration from more mainstream Labour figures.

On Saturday, during the leadership hustings in Liverpool, she referred to her beliefs as “aspirational socialism.”

It’s a neat little line, combining, as it does, the ‘S’ word, which pleases the grassroots, with something vague and modern sounding. Who could be against people having aspirations? Rather than levelling down – the traditional criticism of left-wing politicians – it implies levelling-up. ‘You can still do well, but we just want more people to do well.’

Well, for someone deeply committed to Labour’s Green Industrial Revolution, Long-Bailey clearly practices what she preaches when it comes to recycling.

‘Aspirational socialism’ was used by Andy Burnham in his 2010 leadership campaign. The one where he came fourth in a field of five.

Perhaps, though, there’s an older vintage?

Here’s Long-Bailey’s predecessor as MP for Salford, Hazel Blears, back in 2010: “New Labour is about aspiration and ambition, which is absolutely how I come to be doing what I do, because my parents were ambitious and aspirational for me.”

Continuity Corbyn or Version 3.0 New Labour?

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Complaints over shortlist in Salford

14/07/2014, 04:48:05 PM

The race to succeed Hazel Blears as the Labour candidate for Salford and Eccles has run into controversy following last weekend’s shortlisting meeting.

Complaints have been made to the party’s North West regional office after the unusual decision was made to shortlist just two candidates, despite other applicants having multiple branch nominations.

Yet, unsuccessful candidates have been told by local officials there is no appeals procedure and no feedback has been given about the decision to proceed with such a small shortlist.

Sarah Brookes, a senior manager for Manchester Airport Group, who was born and actually lives in the seat, had four branch nominations. This would normally ensure a place on the final shortlist.

Meanwhile Sara Hyde, who works as a mentor for young women in the prison system, received two branch nominations.

Under Labour’s internal system of preferential voting, it is usual that at least three candidates are shortlisted for a parliamentary selection.

Instead, members now face a choice at next month’s hustings meeting of either Cheshire solicitor Rebecca Long-Bailey or Salford City Councillor Sue Pugh, chair of the party’s North West regional board and partner of NEC member Peter Wheeler.

At the 2010 General Election, Hazel Blears had a majority of 5,725.

Update: 10:05 15/07/14

Sophie Taylor has also been shortlisted. However we understand she only had a single nomination, raising questions about how Brookes and Hyde could possibly be left off the shortlist.

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Time to make the old school tie work for the majority

02/07/2012, 01:43:47 PM

by Hazel Blears

Last week I co-sponsored a debate in Westminster Hall on the topic of social mobility. For those not familiar, Westminster Hall is the “parallel chamber” that the last Labour Government created in 1999 to extend the provision for debate in Parliament, and to give MPs opportunities to discuss a wider range of topics.

Social mobility, as Damian Hinds MP – chair of the all-party parliamentary group (APPG) on social mobility – rightly noted in his speech, can mean entirely different things to different people, and for that reason is often not easily quantified. However it is clear from the statistics that do exist that the United Kingdom is lagging behind other OECD counties when it comes to social mobility – in short, people from poorer backgrounds do not have the same opportunities to succeed.

This is a problem that is increasingly on the political agenda, and indeed has not been properly addressed by any government. Part of the reason for this failure is that too often politicians are afraid of innovative projects where success cannot be directly linked to the funding allocated. But at times when money is limited, it is crucial that politicians and decision makers think outside the box.

When in government, I was struck when told that seven out of ten people get their next job through somebody they know. Networks and contacts can offer people far more hope of employment than job centres, which means that there needs to be a far greater focus in helping people develop relationships and expand their contact books.


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Where have the working class MPs gone?

26/03/2012, 02:26:11 PM

by Hazel Blears

The 2010 General Election was notable for ending – at least temporarily – the era of one-party dominant governments in the UK, and ushering in a coalition. Less notable, but much more worrying, was the continued demise of that all too rare representative: the working class MP.

In 1983, a staggering 51% of MPs had been educated at private school. This began to gradually fall, dropping to a low of 30% in 1997. However since then the figure has begun to rise again, and the 2010 election saw constituencies return an intake of MPs of which 35% have been privately educated. By comparison, only 7% of the school age population are in private schools; politicians are drawn from a narrow social class.

Of the 2010 intake 91% of MPs have attended university. So cliquey is politics that just under 30% of our MPs come from two universities, Oxford and Cambridge. Just 13 schools produce a tenth of MPs. Politics is clearly becoming a graduate profession.

Whilst some MPs from working class backgrounds have made it to the top of politics – the likes of Alan Johnson and David Davis – the reality is that the social composition of our representatives is not representative of our country.

Good governance requires a range of views for effective policy making. If politicians are approaching issues from the same point of view and life experiences, they are likely to create group-think, and their narrow social experiences will be reflected in policy making. A case in point – would the current cabinet have been so quick to withdraw tax credits for working families if any of them had ever had to rely on them? Even the Labour party – the most diverse of all three main political parties – is hardly in a position to lecture about diversity.


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Don’t call her babe: Dan Hodges interviews Hazel Blears

30/11/2010, 02:04:17 PM

“Hazel Blears? Good luck mate. She’s the most on message politician I’ve ever met”.

“Hazel is a robot. ‘Tony good. Labour good. Tony good. Labour good’. Scratch the surface and you just find another surface underneath”.

"I was asked to go and defend the government in some circumstances when no one else wanted to"

Hmmm. Uncut arrives at our meeting with the woman described by one Labour MP as the bionic Blairite with some trepidation. We like discipline and loyalty – in moderation. But we also like a peek behind the curtain. Will we be able to uncover what makes the bionic Blairite tick?

Let’s kick off with Ed Miliband. She voted for him fourth, behind Andy, David and Ed. According to reports, he offered her a job and she turned it down, although Ed’s office officially denies this. Hazel confirms that she had a meeting with Ed and told him she wanted some time out on the back benches. So what does she think of the new leader?

“I would characterise Ed’s leadership as calm, measured, steady, and actually, a surprise to people. I don’t think you have to come out as a brand new leader with fireworks and pazzaz. When Ed won, a lot of people said ‘Ed’s a blank page’. Well in a lot of ways that’s not bad for us, because we need to reflect on why we got the worst result since 1983. I don’t mind a bit of reflection”.

No fireworks. No pazzaz. This could be a long haul.

“But, if we don’t defend our record nobody will. If you walk round my city, it’s not paradise, it’s not nirvana, but it’s a damn sight better than it was. This narrative the Tories are getting traction with, that it was all a disaster, we bust the bank, spent all the money; it’s at our peril that we let that just be the story. People may accuse me of wearing rose tinted glasses, being gung ho; well sorry I’m not going to be snivelling and apologising for what I think in many ways was a damn fine government”.

A flash of passion. Not synthesised. Real, “I’ll see you out side”, anger. (more…)

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The odd couple: Blears and Cruddas join forces to fight Cameron

29/11/2010, 09:00:20 AM

Hazel Blears and Jon Cruddas are joining forces to wrest the “big society” from the Tories. The two senior back benchers have established the “social action forum”, a committee of MPs and stakeholders tasked with taking the fight to David Cameron over his flagship policy.

The inaugural meeting will take place in the House of Commons this Wednesday, with Ms Blears expected to be elected chair of the new grouping. The Labour leadership has been consulted over the formation of the committee, and has given it the seal of approval, including authorisation to extend membership to representatives beyond the PLP.

Speaking at Saturday’s Labour policy forum, Ed Miliband urged the party to “take back” the big society from the government. “It sticks in our throat when David Cameron tries to claim he’s the man for the big society because he has an old fashioned view about the big society. His is essentially a view that says look, if government gets out of the way then society will prosper. None of us believe that”, he told delegates.

“We were slow off the mark in appreciating the dangers of the big society agenda”, Hazel Blears told Uncut.

“It’s more than just a cynical cover for cuts. It’s a much more fundamental realignment of public services, and of Tory politics. This is a very clever piece of rebranding. If you have a big society that says to your right wing ‘you can have a smaller state’, it’s nice blue meat to them. But it also says to the Liberals, “what we want is more people being involved. There is such a thing as society”. So what it does in one easy way, in just two words, is continue that detoxification of their brand which was a key foundation of them getting into power. And now is part of the realignment of politics. It’s a very big strategy”.

She concedes that Jon Cruddas and herself represent unlikely political soul mates, but believes this will add political ballast to the committee.

“One of the best bits of the last six months for me is discovering that Jon and I have got far more in common than a lot of people might have thought. We’ve always chatted and talked, but when you come to think about it we come from a similar background. Ordinary families, represent similar working class constituencies, he has a very strong family background, so do I, and were both Labour, Labour, Labour. It will confound some people, but we’ve increasingly discovered when we talked, and we talked at length, is that wherever you are on the party’s spectrum there are some issues that transcend where people would traditionally place themselves”.

Hazel Blears’ first major political interview since resigning from the Brown government will appear on Uncut tomorrow.

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