How Labour can change Britain

Anya Pearson


With the general election fast approaching, Labour’s attempt to set out an expansive and inspiring vision of Britain after 2015 is being challenged by widespread voter apathy and difficult spending choices.

The Fabian Society’s New Year Conference 2014 saw hundreds of delegates and a wide range of speakers come together to debate how the left can produce a compelling blueprint for power that will deliver lasting change where it is needed most.

Written by some of the conference’s key speakers, the articles in this collection continue this important conversation. They explore ideas including challenging the coalition’s narrative on education, building the homes we need for the future and creating a more authentic politics.

Inside this collection:

1. Can the left change Britain when money is tight? - Andrew Harrop

Any opposition needs three Ps to be ready for power: principles, pledges and plans. Ed Miliband’s Labour party has made real strides on the first two Ps, but the challenge for the next year is to prepare its blueprint for power.

2. The road to 2015 - Mark Ferguson

Labour needs to take on widespread voter apathy by combining community organising techniques with a compelling national vision for housing, unemployment, and wages.

3. Inequality and the state - Penny Young

High rates of in-work poverty combined with falling support for state safety nets has resulted in a complex equality challenge for Labour. However, it can win public backing for a new approach to collectivism.

4. A new partnership - Nicola Smith

An ambitious Labour government should aim to hardwire a rebalanced and sustainable direction for the UK economy, by making better regulation, higher investment, refreshed corporate governance rules and environmental sustainability part of its core strategy.

5. Education for 21st century Britain - Rushanara Ali MP

Education has a pivotal role in building a fairer society and a resilient, modern economy. Labour can change British education for the better by investing in teachers and breaking down the corrosive divide between vocational and academic pathways.

6. Competition and climate change - Nick Butler

Reducing emissions, maintaining competitiveness and ensuring energy security are not mutually incompatible, as long as the next government is able to carefully identify its priorities.

7. Building the homes we need - Grainia Long

Labour’s housebuilding ambitions are both achievable and necessary, but should be viewed as a stepping stone towards a longer-term ambition to house everyone affordably in balanced, environmentally sound communities.

8. Local delivery for the universal good - Sarah Hayward

To win power, Labour should pledge to give it away to local authorities. By decentralising public services, the party can put local people in control of design and delivery while still achieving nationally-defined universal outcomes.

9. Being human - Jessica Asato

The notion that politicians look and sound the same has become ingrained in the public’s consciousness, but Labour can make a claim for greater authenticity by embracing the community organising drive.

10. Generation why Labour? - James Hallwood

Young voters have good reason to be cynical, so Labour must be frank about what can be achieved with limited resources while reflecting young people’s aspirations for a better future.