Posts Tagged ‘Moises Naim’

Labour Digital: Welcome to the Brave New World

10/03/2014, 11:03:44 AM

by Jonathan Todd

The internet, claims the opening sentence of The New Digital Age, the bestseller by Google’s Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen, is among the few things that humans have built that they don’t truly understand. Labour has, however, resolved to learn and act accordingly.

That is the goal of Labour Digital, launched last week at Google Campus. The crossbencher Martha Lane Fox and Labour’s Parry Mitchell, the digital entrepreneurs of the upper house, spoke, as did John McTernan, who will gather digital policy ideas for the next Labour manifesto.

Lane Fox and Mitchell both focused on the digital divide – unequal access to digital technologies. Some are highly digitally literate, many are not, denying them tremendous benefits. As an egalitarian party, correcting this should be a Labour priority.

For 20 years, Labour spokespeople have stressed the need for adaptation to globalisation. Yet, in a seminal mid-1990s paper, Richard Freeman, a Harvard economist, attributed more importance to technological change in determining the wages of the low skilled than international trade. Labour spokespeople, however, have less frequently highlighted the importance of adaptation to technological change.


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The big ideas of 2014 and what they mean for Labour: summing up

01/01/2014, 07:16:21 PM

by Jonathan Todd

I might be perverse and deficient to have enjoyed finding time during Christmas week to assess what Prospect’s big ideas of 2014 mean for Labour. I worry, though, that this is all the time that anyone in Labour has spent on some of these ideas. Larry Summers may, for example, be asking big questions about monetary policy but Labour still has precious little to say on this economically central topic.

Labour not only needs to get our thinking caps on in 2014 but convince the electorate that we have solutions to the big challenges that will face the UK of May 2015. This is a divided electorate. Between the 99% and the 1%, global London and the provincial shires, and those that see government as the problem and those that see it as their safety net.

Another division emerges beyond some of Prospect’s ideas. Between the doers and the downers. The doers are collaboratively consuming, popping up everywhere and making new news. In other words, seizing for themselves the opportunities of our times. Public policy appears barely relevant to much of this, except perhaps to the extent that it has facilitated the digital revolution. Certainly, politics feels marginal to the doers, who are too busy doing to have much care for it.

In contrast, the downers – those fuelling the politics of rejection – are angry with politics. As they are angry with much else. As the doers grasp fresh possibilities, the downers feel all their possibilities have closed down.

Successful politicians must make themselves relevant to the doers, while pacifying the downers. These are very different people, best suited to very different messages. The doers are only interested in politicians if they can enable them to do more. Maybe extending access to devices of more measured lives, while tackling the new risks identified by cloud sceptics, are some means by which this might be done.


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