Posts Tagged ‘Liam Byrne’

Everybody is ignoring us, because we are weird

11/05/2011, 02:30:54 PM

by Anthony Painter

As Kevin Meagher noted on Uncut this morning, the canvas on which Labour is currently painting by numbers is wearing rather thin. A bit of blue, a bit of purple, some red, something of a strange colour called ‘new’, finish it off with a bit of a flourish. Stand back and marvel at the complete, er, mess.

In the meantime, the Conservatives emerge largely unscathed from their first electoral test since the general election. OK, they emerged completely unscathed. And Labour has spent the year talking to itself and in the seminar room (in fact, the last four years). Now the results of the experiment are about to be unleashed. There will be a deafening silence across the land.

There is a narrative of failure that has come to dominate: Labour became too statist, technocratic, detached, captured by the market; it lost its soul. All of this is true. But it’s not why Labour lost. The cause of defeat is much simpler than that. People didn’t trust Labour anymore. They’d seen enough and decided enough was enough. They wanted a new government and new prime minister. They just weren’t over-enamoured with the alternative.

But we are very educated people on the left. We read social history. We have consumed the political classics from Aristotle to Rawls and beyond. We have framed and conceptualised every single action of every human on this planet. We inhale public policy as if it were shisha. And you know what? We’re weird.


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Tuesday News Review

10/05/2011, 06:58:39 AM

It’s not about your A levels…

Wealthy parents could be allowed to ‘buy’ their children places at top universities by paying higher fees under plans being put together by the government. Extra places would be provided at the leading universities and could be filled by undergraduates rich enough, or whose parents were wealthy enough, to pay fees up front. The idea, which is expected to be contained in a white paper, is part of a package of suggestions designed to create extra places at universities without increasing costs to the taxpayer. David Willetts, the Universities Minister, is keen for businesses and even charities to sponsor more undergraduates and by enabling them to be counted as extra places – or “off-quota” places – they would allow more students to attend their first choice university. At present when businesses sponsor students they are counted as part of a university’s normal quota of places. However, he wants the forthcoming White Paper on universities to consider a whole range of options and as such he is also willing to consider allowing the wealthy to pay enhanced fees of at least £12,000 per year and in some cases more than £28,000. – the Independent

The proposals would allow universities to charge willing British students the same full–price fees as overseas undergraduates to ensure them a place. Teenagers who take up the places would not be eligible for publicly funded loans to help pay for tuition fees or any living costs, according to a report in The Guardian. It would mean that only students from the most privileged backgrounds would have the funds to take advantage of the scheme. Annual fees for overseas students range from £12,000 to £18,000 for arts and science courses respectively, rising to more than £28,000 for medicine at the best universities. The places would fall outside of the current government–dictated quotas of undergraduate places each English university is allowed to offer each year. – Daily Telegraph

Some policy at last

A demand for a return to a “responsibility society” has emerged as the dominant theme from submissions to Labour‘s policy review, the review’s co-ordinator Liam Byrne is due to reveal on Tuesday. Byrne’s speech can also be seen as a call for the party to respond to its failure to make a breakthrough against David Cameron in the south in last week’s elections. “Quite simply there is a sense that if we stop rewarding people for doing the wrong thing, we could do more to help the people doing the right thing,” Byrne will say. He will add that the public see “the renewal of the ‘responsibility society'” as the way through the challenges Labour now confronts. Summing up 20,000 submissions to the review, Byrne will say: “The public instinct is that we need a renewal of responsibility in the Treasury, in the City, in boardrooms, in parliament, on immigration and on welfare. “Labour is not ahead on trust on welfare reform right now,” he is expected to say, adding: “We can’t win back trust by simply sitting back and letting the government get it wrong. We have to be the party that stands for restoring a sense of a ‘something for something’ deal at the heart of the welfare state.” – the Guardian

How long has Lansley got?

Tory MPs last night urged David Cameron to refuse demands from the ‘double-dealing’ Nick Clegg to radically water down controversial NHS reforms. They are furious the Deputy Prime Minister appears to have been given free rein to trash the flagship health bill, to shore up his battered reputation with the Liberal Democrat grassroots. As speculation swirled about his future in the Cabinet, Health Secretary Andrew Lansley fought back – insisting critics must say who should be in charge of the NHS if not doctors, nurses and patients. Under legislation that has already been passed by the Commons, with Lib Dem support, power for commissioning NHS care will pass from bureaucrats to groups led by GPs. Mr Clegg suggested at the weekend that slamming the brakes on the plan was the price of continuing in coalition with the Conservatives. Both Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt and Transport Secretary Philip Hammond have been tipped as replacements for Mr Lansley if he refuses to make major concessions to his reforms, though Downing Street insists he is ‘going nowhere’. – Daily Mail

Mr Clegg is insisting that any changes to the health service should be evolutionary, a sentiment that resonates with many Tories as well as Lib-Dems. But criticisms of the reforms from doctors could still risk doing the Bill, and ministers, serious damage. The Royal College of General Practitioners is today just the latest body to express serious doubts about the direction of change. It is worried that “we are moving towards an insurance-type model of the NHS” and wants to re-examine those parts of the Health Bill that relate to increasing competition. Other critics, including the King’s Fund and the BMA, have voiced their own concerns. Many of us accept that reforms to the NHS are overdue; most people would also accept that the NHS must cut costs. But beyond that there is little agreement about the nature and pace of change. Indeed there are concerns that in the short term, restructuring of the health service will not cut costs but will increase them. The one-man enthusiast for the Bill, Health Secretary Andrew Lansley, may yet fall victim to Coalition in-fighting. What is needed is a salvage operation for those parts of the Bill that are useful and a period of reflection for the rest. Many GPs do not want the additional administrative burden that would fall on them if, as the Bill proposes, they were responsible for all healthcare commissioning. – Evening Standard

Any excuse

A Home Office minister reported to have had a ‘difficult’ relationship with her boss, Theresa May, resigned last night. Baroness Neville-Jones quit the post of Security and Counter-Terrorism Minister, which she had held since the Coalition was formed. She gave no reasons in her resignation letter to David Cameron. Downing Street said she had stepped down ‘at her own request’. The Security minister is said to have ‘had her fair share of fallings-out with the Home Secretary’, according to a Whitehall source. But sources suggested she had argued repeatedly with both Home Secretary Mrs May and Liberal Democrat ministers. ‘She was concerned about the influence of the Liberal Democrats,’ a source said. ‘It’s not great timing to lose a security minister given that Al Qaeda are threatening revenge attacks for the death of Bin Laden.’ Baroness Neville-Jones, 71, will take up a newly-created role in the Government as Special Representative to Business on Cyber Security. – Daily Mail

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We’ve had dissent and discipline, it’s time for debate and dialogue

05/11/2010, 03:00:08 PM

by Jessica Asato

This week I did something 99.9% of the population didn’t. I took part in a Labour party branch discussion about reform of partnership in power (PiP) – the party’s policy-making process introduced in 1997.

Liam Byrne has been put in charge of leading the review process which will conclude in June next year and changes to policy arrangements will be agreed by party conference. As Pat McFadden states at the start of the consultation document, “now, in opposition, the time is right to have a fundamental review of our policy making process”. Actually, I don’t quite agree with that. We should have reviewed and improved policy making when we knew the top of the party was failing to communicate with the membership and nipped it in the bud. If your footsoldiers are unhappy about the direction of the top brass they will be less willing to do their best in the fight on the ground.

In fact, a number of things about the document don’t quite make the grade. It states “Partnership in Power has in most people’s eyes been considered a success”. What, seriously? No one at my branch meeting seemed to think it had. Even its assertion that PiP helped to “deliver election winning manifestos in 2001 and 2005” is pushing it a bit far when a) most of the new policy in those manifestos were formulated in the Downing St policy unit and b) PiP also helped to procure an election losing manifesto in 2010. (more…)

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Shadow cabinet: vote for Liam

22/09/2010, 01:38:20 PM

Liam Byrne

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