Posts Tagged ‘Top of the Policies’

It may be big, but how should we use it? Data, elections, growth and 2015

21/06/2013, 10:12:07 AM

Last week Dan Fox’s proposal on data development loans was voted top f the policies for supporting entrepreneurship at the latest Pragmatic Radicalism event, chaired by Chuka Umunna MP the shadow secretary of state for business.

“Described by pollsters as a weather-vane constituency, it is contemporary information technologies making a difference this week. Jill tapped the side of her Google Glass display and began directing canvassers. “The Harrises. Last time we spoke to them, they complained about the daily commute. Can you get up that chart of rail fares and investment?” Swiping away at his iPad, Jack strolled off, armed with all he needed to connect, both electronically and emotionally, with the voters at number 23. On the opposite kerb, two of his colleagues were not having quite as much luck generating an augmented reality view of the lighting and paving repairs that had taken place on the street since Labour had taken over the local council in 2013.”

Election Sketch, The Times, 9 May 2015

For those who still feel that the biro and clipboard are unnecessary luxuries on the #labourdoorstep, the thought of handheld devices brimming with electronic data being at the centre of elections is at best bewildering. But data is now, as we all know, “Big”. It is all around us and has a permanence in our daily lives akin to a new way of communicating, helping us to understand what we and others are doing and will do. Campaigning is not insulated from this. Last year, Obama For America, set the standard for using Big Data in identifying, motivating and expanding the numbers of your voters. Labour looks set to reflect these techniques.

However, before we get too caught up in a vision of campaignbots traipsing around the marginals like canvassing Terminators, we should also consider the policy significance of Big Data. Although it has not been a great couple of weeks for data of any kind – in the news for all the wrong reasons as the full extent of the surveillance of the personal variety has been exposed – this must not distract us from the thousands of positive, world-changing uses of mass data collection and analysis.


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Time for a fully funded plan for jobs and growth

19/02/2013, 10:55:49 AM

Last week Phil McCauley won the Top Of The Policies for economic growth vote at the latest Pragmatic Radicalism event, chaired by Toby Perkins MP the shadow minister for small business.

Financial credibility is the most important facet required for Labour to be trusted at the 2015 general election. We cannot call for tax incentives without saying how they can be paid for otherwise we will not make our case.

With this in mind, I approached the Pragmatic Radicalism event on 12th of February with a view to presenting my suggestions for how this can be achieved without adding to the deficit. Toby Perkins MP was in the Chair and many excellent ideas were presented in the 90 second pitch format with 2 minutes of questions followed by the vote.

I suggest we change the covenant and fiduciary duties on pension trustees to invest 10% of our 2.5tn in pension assets in UK business. At present there is a requirement to invest for the best return irrespective of our national interests or ethics.

I am not merely suggesting the ownership of publicly traded stock, but direct equity investment in Labour’s proposed British investment bank. With over £200 bn to invest we could transform the UK economy within the next parliament. And what’s more, not add to the deficit in the process. This money can be invested for much better returns in housing and infrastructure and UK manufacturing and export. It’s immoral to think that our pension funds are invested in pay-day loan sharks and manufacturers of land mines.

Indeed, the entire pensions industry needs even more reform than the banking system. They are inextricably linked of course and the pension industry needs to align its duties with One Nation principles. It cannot be right that we are investing UK earnings in foreign competitors which destroy our job and growth at home. We have a national interest first.

One Nation investment will focus our finances upon the extraordinary entrepreneurial abilities within our country. It’s time for a fully funded plan for jobs and growth.

Cllr Phil McCauley serves on Gedling Council and is a member of LFIG (Labour Finance and Industry Group) Executive Board, serial and social entrepreneur

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Bristol needs a better deal for buses

30/01/2013, 03:57:42 PM

Last week Amanda Ramsay won the “top of the policies” vote at Pragmatic Radicalism’s top of the policies event in Bristol, chaired by Maria Eagle MP, shadow transport secretary. The winning proposal was for a “Better Deal on the Buses”, to bring buses under a new regulatory framework

People like me who live in Bristol would like to be able to leave our front doors, walk just a few minutes to a bus stop and easily reach work, meetings, job interviews, the main shopping areas, visit friends or just explore the outskirts of the city. That’s what Londoners enjoy, so why can’t we in Bristol?

I want to see cities like Bristol negotiating better deals with the likes of First Group, to deliver more routes, better reliability and lower prices.

It’s time to use the powers granted to metropolitan cities like Manchester, Sheffield, Glasgow and Bristol by the last Labour government, to regulate fares, routes, frequency of services and improve customer relations.

Private bus operators outside London enjoy a whopping £2 billion a year in tax payers’ money, but in Bristol it’s often cheaper when two or more people are travelling to take a taxi than to ride a bus. It causes traffic congestion, more dangers for cyclists and a weaker bus system itself, as customers vote with their feet and often only freedom pass users are passengers, meaning no income stream.


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Forcing the likes of Starbucks to Pay Where You Earn would help tackle tax avoidance

22/10/2012, 04:23:50 PM

Last week Phil McCauley won the “top of the policies” vote at Pragmatic Radicalism’s event on industrial policy. The winning proposal tackled the question of reducing corporate tax avoidance

I believe we must act to end tax avoidance. We have seen numerous examples of famous brands proudly paying very little tax; just last week it emerged that Starbucks have a grand total of £8.6m in corporation tax in this country over the last fourteen years.

Once again, as the spotlight has been shone on an embarrassed corporation, we’ve seen a litany of familiar excuses wheeled out to excuse not paying their fair share. This time, as well as the usual “we’ve done nothing illegal” line, part of Starbucks defence was that they paid their fair share of tax via national insurance contributions for their employees! This assumes away the entire basis of corporation tax (e.g. on companies’ profits) and sells every other tax payer short – company and individual alike.

Starbucks disgraceful tax avoidance will not be the last revelation of this type, and unless action is taken, we will continue see yet more billionaire entrepreneurs seeking plaudits whilst legally robbing the exchequer.

For years, all governments have failed to rebalance our taxation system. My proposal involves a new approach that requires legislation from the next Labour government and which represents a radical shift away from the failed approaches of the past.

It’s time for pay where you earn.


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LAPEL – a way forward for increasing the participation of local communities in the rehabilitation of ex-offenders

06/09/2012, 04:31:25 PM

Last week Json Keto Edwards won the “top of the policies” vote at Pragmatic Radicalism’s event on local government in Southwark. The winning proposal tackled the question of how to bes tsupport ex-offenders.

LAPEL stands for the Life After Prison Employment League. It is a policy proposal that offers a new way to re-integrate ex-offenders into the community, and, critically, prevent re-offending.

Punishments vary in degree when the courts assess punitive sanctions but in reality, a conviction is a conviction no matter how petty or serious the issue.

Finding employment is naturally not an easy task, but when an individual has a previous conviction be it spent or unspent it is an even taller order. We all now live in a world where most employers including professional bodies demand to know if a prospective employee has any convictions.

The irony about this question is that when such information is disclosed, chances are the individual does not make the shortlist. If not disclosed before employment it may form the basis of a later dispute or sacking following such appointment.

As an employer who has employed people with previous convictions, I have found these individuals worthy candidates with a strong desire to want to prove themselves deserving of the opportunity given them. I also believe that a legacy founded on employers supporting this group would only serve to reduce re-offending.

Based on this experience, my organisation Chainges Today is leading calls for a new approach to supporting ex-offenders. We believe LAPEL could be a vital tool in rehabilitating and re-settling ex-offenders.

The programme would involve an accreditation that can be displayed by employers showing their social responsibility in supporting the rehabilitation of ex-offenders.

Ex-offenders would be able to qualify for a parallel certification that would demonstrate their commitment to rehabilitation and could be presented to potential employers.


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Time for policy in the pub, Southwark style

01/09/2012, 08:00:37 AM

Hear ye, hear ye, good people of the London Borough of Southwark. What are you doing this afternoon?

Finish the shopping early, forget about the football results (it’s barely September, you know it means nothing) and get yourself along to the Roebuck pub (upstairs) on Great Dover street SE1 at 4pm for a world premiere.

Yes, it’s the first local government policy in the pub.

You know the format:- 90 seconds for folk to present a policy idea, in this case for the glorious Borough of Southwark, followed by 3 minutes Q&A. After all the ideas have been aired and discussed, you get to vote on the best.

But here’s the twist.

The event will be chaired by mayor Althea Smith and council leader Peter John will be on hand to respond to the best ideas.

You read  right. You’ll be able to speak the truth to power. Shake the hand of power. Maybe even hear a reasoned and cogent response from power to your ideas.

So what are you waiting for? Make the arrangements, sort the kids and get down to Roebuck  at 4.

And you can have a fully justified early pint into the bargain.

What’s not to like? See you in the pub.

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Towards a real housing revolution: reforming tenure in the private rented sector

17/08/2012, 06:08:47 PM

In May, Romin Sutherland was one of the winners in the” Top of the Policies” vote at Pragmatic Radicalism’s event on housing, with a proposal to reform assured shorthold tenancies

At a time of economic recession, when social house building is at an all-time low and cheap credit is no longer available for most first time buyers, those groups who in better days would have accessed social housing or benefited from more equitable house price to income ratios will increasingly find themselves locked into a cycle of private renting.  In order to ensure that the private rented sector (PRS) is up to the task of housing a growing and ageing population, I am advocating a reform of the current assured shorthold tenancy (AST), which would increase security of tenure beyond the present 6 month minimum, towards one where most private tenants who pay their rent on time and play by the rules are rewarded with long term sustainable tenancies.

If we were to ensure that the PRS was both an affordable and long term option, there would be fewer reasons for households to hold out for social housing.  This would lower waiting times and allow local authorities to focus their energies on the neediest without the resentment that often comes from those who feel excluded.

Anyone working within the advice or local government sectors will be aware of the dangers inherent within complaining about disrepair and maintenance issues.  Not only is this likely to receive little or no attention from the local environmental health authority, it is also likely to see an unscrupulous landlord claiming possession of the property; the so-called “retaliatory eviction”.

If tenants had increased security of tenure, they could enforce their rights without the fear of being evicted.  As time passed and the worst offenders would realise that they could no longer shirk their responsibilities; they may become more proactive about maintenance and emergency repairs, thus reducing the need for enforcement at all.

As tenants are provided with more of a stake in where they live, I would expect to see an increase in tenants’ rights groups acting as advocates and brokers, and taking the lead on community issues.  As tenant groups grow more powerful, this would increase their collective bargaining power and allow them an opportunity to inform decision making in a democratic way.

It would then be up to the tenants and landlords to decide amongst themselves what they most desired; new windows or cheaper rents.


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We need a better deal on the buses

20/06/2012, 01:39:07 PM

by Amanda Ramsay

Last week Amanda Ramsay won the “top of the policies” vote at Pragmatic Radicalism’s future of transport event, chaired by Maria Eagle MP, shadow transport secretary. The winning proposal was for a “Better Deal on the Buses”, to bring buses under a new regulatory framework.

Having worked in four UK cities: Bristol, Manchester, Plymouth and London; I have seen first-hand the huge differences in public transport available in different parts of the country. As a Bristol resident and campaigner, the contrast with London is nothing short of shameful.

Decent, affordable bus services are essential for any sense of social mobility and access to health care, jobs, leisure facilities, shops and family and friends, but too often are expensive and not efficient enough in terms of routes and regularity.

Bus route availability and costs in cities like Bristol and Glasgow could be overseen and controlled by the local authority and elected representatives, in a similar way Transport for London runs the capital’s bus system, where residents are well served across the whole city and pay just £1.35 a journey using Oyster, a pre-charged electronic swipe card. Prices are also capped.

In Bristol, it is often cheaper to get a taxi than to hop on a bus, for a family or group of friends. This is crazy, especially, for a city with bad air quality from high car usage with higher than average asthma rates, stemming from its basin-like geographical location. This is an environmental issue as well as a social policy imperative.

Looking forward to 2015, we need to demand a better deal on the buses; a better, cheaper, more efficient bus system that is all about social mobility and getting Britain working.


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Speed dating the great British public

28/09/2011, 08:41:30 AM

by Jonathan Todd

A political leaflet has the time it takes to pick it up at the doormat and dispose of it in the bin to make an impact. Speakers at the pragmatic radicalism fringe on Monday night had two minutes to make their cases for policies they’d like Labour to take forward. The party itself has half a week of more prominent headlines and news coverage to move beyond Tessa Jowell’s verdict that we’re not being listened to.

This fleeting opportunity for Labour amounts to a speed date with the British public – a chance to say who we are, what our interests are and what our idea of a good time is; a chance, if possible, to connect. The widely covered pictures of Ed Miliband travelling to conference with his wife and young children told us some of these things. He’s a family man. His idea of good time is spending time with his family. He “gets” family. It is a theme he developed in his speech yesterday.

He understands the concerns of families about rising energy bills, train fares and tuition fees. Of course, single people share these concerns. Ed is a family man, but this isn’t primarily about families. It’s about those who work hard but who struggle to get by and worry about their future and that of their friends, families and communities. The small people dwarfed by the big world.

The big world isn’t just formed by private companies whose prices only seem to go in one direction, but by the public bodies who, while taxing ever more, appear to care about the interests of anyone but people like them. If the small people messed up at work, they’d get the sack. They are sure of this. And it keeps them awake at night. They’d be no state subsidised bonuses for them, unlike the bankers. They wonder why they bother when plenty of people seem to live as they couldn’t afford on welfare payments.


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