Posts Tagged ‘big ideas of 2014’

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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The big ideas of 2014 and what they mean for Labour: domestic policy

30/12/2013, 06:21:01 PM

by Jonathan Todd

Nothing says Christmas like the Prospect feature on the big ideas of the year ahead. At least in the bedrooms of geeks. Thinking about them, especially when there is turkey to be eaten and mulled wine to be drunk, is the preserve of the pointy-heads.

At the same time, nothing says unprepared like a Labour party that hasn’t thought through the implications of these ideas. Uncut is here to help. The turkey and mulled wine were untouched for long enough for us to identify and discuss the most important question raised for Labour by the pot pourri of ideas.

Prospect’s annual feature is a bit of lugubrious beast, so we deal with them in three posts looking first at domestic challenges, then international issues and finally drawing together the conclusions for Labour next year.

So, first up is domestic policy, where there are 9 big ideas:

1 Rejectionist politics

How will Labour react to UKIP’s likely strong performance in 2014’s European Parliament elections? And the election to this parliament of more nationalists than ever before?

The beltway consensus is that the anti-beltway chief, Farage, will be the big winner of the 2014 European elections. It’s virtually factored into the political stock prices of 2014. The bigger doubt is whether Farage’s stock price can remain high till May 2015.

While my suspicion is that UKIP will be back around 5% by May 2015, their strong performance in the European elections will put pressure on David Cameron, as his strategy for containing UKIP will seem to be failing. Labour should note, though, that Farage is part of a broader rejectionist trend uniting UKIP with both the Tea Party in the US and populist parties of the left and right across the EU.

This trend sees all politicians as being as bad as each other and is expected to result in more nationalists than ever before ending up in the European parliament. The only way for Labour MEPs to defeat them may be to align with Conservative and Liberal MEPs – potential validation of the UKIP charge that they are all the same.

Labour needs a strategy for the EU that is both far-sighted and imbued with popular resonance. What part may be played in this by supporting an EU referendum is a related debate.

2. Beginning of the end of QE

What’s Labour’s view on monetary policy?

Quantitative Easing (QE) is “the biggest monetary policy experiment in the history of the planet,” according to Richard Lambert, a former member of the Bank of England’s monetary policy committee. It’s an unfinished experiment of central banks in the US, UK and the rest of the EU. It seems to have averted depression. But if it is withdrawn too quickly, it may trigger recession or worse, while if it is withdrawn too slowly, it may sustain destructive inflation.


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