Posts Tagged ‘NPF’

What does a Labour government do when there’s no money to spend? Constitutional and regulatory reform. It’s not perfect but the only answer that’s available

18/09/2023, 10:42:33 PM

by Atul Hatwal

What does a Labour government do when there’s no money to spend? That was the exam question for the draft policy document from the National Policy Forum (NPF), circulated last week. On first appraisal, it’s answer isn’t terribly clear, the NPF document is a hotch potch. The many hands of a committee are evident and reflected in the disparate media reports with a spray of different toplines, from spending discipline to changes on worker’s rights to removal of the commitment to allow EU nationals to vote at general elections.

But step back, look at it overall and a nascent direction of travel is present. One that’s familiar for those with memories stretching back to the 1990s.

Beyond the big economic pronouncements which are primarily about what Labour will not do – no rise in income tax, capital gains tax or new wealth or mansion taxes – the highest profile policies fall into two categories: discrete pledge card initiatives with specific benefits and funding identified and constitutional and regulatory reform.

The pledge card initiatives have been well-trailed, with funding raised from policies such as closing the loopholes in the windfall tax and ending non-dom tax status to pay for improvements like more NHS staff and breakfast clubs for schools. But it’s the second category, about which less has been written, that is more interesting.

When looking back at the 1997-2001 Labour government, what’s remembered is constitutional and regulatory reform. Yes, there were pledge card initiatives, like the New Deal for the young unemployed to move 250,000 under-25s off benefits and into work by using money from a windfall levy on the privatised utilities (I can still recite that in my sleep), but few talk about them today.

In the lists of achievements of the last Labour government, the highlights from the 1997-2001 administration usually include the minimum wage, devolution and independence for the Bank of England. None of these constitutional and regulatory changes needed substantive new funding from the Treasury but each has had a significant impact on life in Britain.

The National Policy Forum document includes some of these types of policies such as Lords reform, votes at 16 and a new body to enforce workplace rights. But what is lacking is an overarching narrative that explains why this kind of reform is important to renew Britain, how it means Labour can govern differently to the Tories without lavish funding, a clear focus to give the media topline that is currently missing.


Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon

We must reach out: An NEC member reports from Gillingham

28/11/2010, 05:03:32 PM

by Johanna Baxter

One of the main reasons I stood for the NEC was to try to ensure that members have a bigger voice in our policy making structures.  So, having taken up my seat after Oona’s elevation to the Lords, I was pleased that I hadn’t missed the first meeting of the National Policy Forum since conference.

I would have preferred the opportunity to have consulted members about the key topics for discussion prior to attending but, being a newcomer to the NEC, I didn’t receive my paperwork until Friday afternoon which left no meaningful opportunity for me to be able to do so.

Feeling somewhat underprepared I braved the freezing weather and headed out to Gillingham early yesterday morning.    My nerves were calmed slightly after bumping into the NEC’s Vice-Chair, Michael Cashman MEP, at Gillingham station who, even in our brief discussion, couldn’t have been more welcoming.

I had been struck by how little time was devoted in the agenda to debating policy – just two hours out of a seven hour day.  There were five workshops in all – constitutional reform, the economy, the funding of higher education, the NHS and welfare reform – with representatives invited to attend up to two.  I selected to attend the discussions on the economy and welfare reform.

The business plenary, introduced by NEC chair, Norma Stephenson, kicked off the day.  This short five minutes was devoted to the election of the NPF Chair (Peter Hain) and Vice Chairs (Affiliates; Billy Hayes, CLP & Regions; Simon Burgess, Elected Reps; Kate Green).

In his opening speech Peter said the agenda was more reflective of what representatives wanted: fewer plenary sessions and more workshops than in the past.  Peter also acknowledged that there needed to be more resources for NPF representatives (he was considering an NPF intranet on which information could be shared and policy positions discussed), and more information, and responsibility, for party members.  He announced that fellow NEC member, Ellie Reeves, had been appointed Vice Chair of the review into our policy making process, confirmed that there was no pre-set agenda for the review and that all contributions would be considered.

Next up Harriet Harman introduced Ed Miliband and spoke of the 45,803 new members who have joined the party since the general election. (more…)

Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon

We need to oppose, as well as to review

28/11/2010, 12:00:05 PM

by Tom Keeley

This weekend Ed Miliband launched a major policy review. Starting with a blank piece of paper, the big thinkers in the party will now take two years coordinating the biggest review of policy since 1994. The party needs it.

The 2010 general election showed a party which had stopped thinking, stopped improving and had little to say. If it had not been for the economic crisis, the dividing lines between us and the Tories would have been slight. When a Labour party can’t state a long list of differences with the Tories, you know there is trouble.

This review needs to put Labour back as the progressive party in this country. A party to ensure that liberty is not at the cost of security. To ensure the poor provision of housing never again fuels racial tensions. A party to champion schools that serve the poorest, health care that heals the sickest and social security that treats the most unfortunate in our society with respect and deference. This will serve the electorate well in two years time. They will have the choice to elect a truly progressive party.

However, the Labour party has a more immediate responsibility. Opposition. While Miliband described opposition as “crap” (and he might be right), it is the most important job in the country at the moment. This government is rolling out the most regressive series of policies and doing it early in the anticipation that the electorate will forget by 2015. Frontline police are being cut. The NHS is being turned upside down. And, soon, teachers will be let go, when the economic independence that came with the academies bill, turns out to be a noose around the necks of the schools.

The press will report numbers: the manpower lost, the waiting lists and the crime stats. But the Labour party should remember that this is about people’s lives. This is about another generation of children growing up in homes where no parent works and young people going to school in classrooms that are falling apart. It is about families breaking under the stress of mortgage repayments and lost incomes; about people dying on the waiting list for cancer treatments. The Labour party has a responsibility to stand up for these lives now, not in two years time. The most important job in the country is the opposition of this government’s policies.

While the policy review is vital for our party, a responsible, rigorous and careful opposition is vital for the country. If we fail to provide this now, the electorate will look back on these years and see an indulgent, introspective party. A party that failed them. Until the policy review is complete, our priority must be coherent and effective opposition.

Tom Keeley is a member of Birmingham Edgbaston CLP.

Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon

Saturday News Review

23/10/2010, 07:48:41 AM

It’s all gone Nick Clegg

One question swirling through the sea of British politics is this: how will Ed Miliband act towards the Lib Dems? The Labour leader certainly didn’t flinch from attacking the yellow brigade during the leadership contest, at one point calling them a “disgrace to the traditions of liberalism.” But surely he’ll have to soften that rhetoric in case the next election delivers another bout of frenzied coalition negotiations.

Which is why Andy Burnham’s article in the Guardian today is worth noting down. In making his point – that the Lib Dems haven’t won the pupil premium they sought – he does all he can to force a wedge between Nick Clegg and his party. In other words, it looks as though Ed Miliband’s campaign promise that he could only work with a Clegg-less Lib Dem party is now official Labour policy. – The Spectator

The political significance of Clegg’s failure to fund the pupil premium is huge. It goes to the heart of the politics of the coalition, and raises real questions about Clegg’s influence within it. The issue is politically charged because it was one of the points on which the Lib-Lab post-election talks foundered.

Taken all together, I don’t think this is an education policy that most Lib Dems can sign up to. We now have not one but two major Lib Dem broken promises on education. Ruthless Tory ministers have chewed up and spat out Mr Clegg. For a party proud of its principled approach to education policy down the years – and which famously promised a penny on income tax to fund it – these are bleak times indeed. – Andy Burnham, The Guardian

Nick Clegg faces criticism after attacking the Institute for Fiscal Studies’ (IFS) assessment of the spending review as “complete nonsense”.  The deputy prime minister’s comments came after the economics thinktank said the spending review’s approach to welfare and public services would have a regressive impact. The IFS’ acting director, Carl Emmerson, had said the Treasury’s own analysis showed the poorest would be hit hardest by cuts to both public services and welfare payments. –

Where the Axe Falls

Urban areas will bear the brunt of the spending cuts announced this week with every major English city facing a triple whammy of the biggest job losses, council cuts and benefit withdrawals, a Guardian analysis of the impact of the key decisions reveals.

Local authorities with dense populations face the deepest cuts, according to a breakdown of the measures by George Osborne to slash council spending, reduce child benefit and cut the educational maintenance allowance. The predicted 490,000 job losses in the public sector will fall most heavily on cities.

In public sector job losses, the biggest losers are Birmingham, Leeds, Manchester and Liverpool – all largely Labour strongholds, plus the Conservative Westminster and Sheffield Hallam, which is Nick Clegg’s constituency. – The Guardian

Wayne’s World

The opulence of Wayne’s world and his record-breaking deal stands in stark contrast to the other news which rocked the city this week. It is now estimated that 40,000 people in the Greater Manchester area will lose their jobs as a result of Chancellor George Osborne’s plans to cut £83bn from public spending to fight the deficit. Those cuts will translate into the loss of 30,000 public-sector posts and a further 10,000 job losses from private businesses. The majority of jobs will be lost either in the NHS or from the region’s 10 town halls, where 6,750 workers are expected to be added to the dole queue. – The Independent

Super Councils to the Rescue

A new generation of super-councils across the country is being backed by Conservative ministers as a means to slash costs and drive up efficiency standards. A cull of smaller councils would inevitably lead to sweeping job losses.

Three Conservative-controlled councils in the capital – Westminster, Kensington & Chelsea and Hammersmith & Fulham – yesterday announced moves to share services, although they would retain their separate identities. – The Independent

Council Cuts to Cause NHS Chaos

Hospital beds will be filled by the elderly and the vulnerable because of cuts to local government care, a senior health service figure has warned. Nigel Edwards, the head of the NHS Confederation, said the pressure on beds could mean that hospitals would be unable to admit patients “who badly need care”.

In a letter to The Daily Telegraph, Mr Edwards said the result could be that elderly patients would have to stay on in hospital for longer as there will be no after-care available in the community. “Less support from council services will quickly lead to increased pressure on emergency services and hospitals. Hospital beds will be blocked for those who badly need care because the support services the elderly require after discharge will not be available.” – Press Association

Patients will be left untreated as the NHS struggles to mop up the consequences of severe cuts in local authority funding, said Nigel Edwards, the head of the NHS Confederation. In a letter to The Daily Telegraph, Mr Edwards — whose organisation represents NHS trusts running hospitals and ambulance services — says the cuts in local authority budgets will force them to reduce care services for the elderly and vulnerable. – The Telegraph

Mandelson’s U-Turn

During the leadership campaign, Mandelson criticized Miliband at various points, blaming him for the platform Labour ran on in May’s election and warning Miliband could lead the party down “an electoral cul-de-sac.”

However, in a telephone interview with Dow Jones Newswires Friday, Mandelson said the new Labour leader had positioned himself well on the key political debate over how to handle the country’s fiscal challenges.

“Ed has done what the leader of the opposition needs to do, make a serious argument that has credibility and speaks for the views of many in the country,” Mandelson said. “He has done that successfully.” – The Wall Street Journal

The Rocky Road to NPF Reform

Labour‘s method of making policy has not achieved its objectives, has been far too distant from ordinary party members and has created a great deal of cynicism, Peter Hain says today.

Hain, the man chosen by Ed Miliband to lead Labour’s policy forum, says in a Guardian interview: “I defend the policy forum principle, but there is a great deal of cynicism amongst party members that we need to address. If you disempower your membership, you start down the road to losing, and that is what happened during our 13 years of power.

“I feel rejuvenating our national policy forum is a precondition to winning the next election, and that is very much Ed Miliband’s view.” – The Guardian

Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon