The thought that went in to this
Here is some of our thinking that went into our Plan for Labour and how it should be put together.
A PLAN FOR LABOUR
VISION: WHAT IT IS, AND WHY IT MATTERS
1) All our policies should derive, and be seen to derive, from an integrated and coherent programme.
2) This programme should be clear, confident, inspiring, easy to understand, and entirely different from what the Tories have to offer.
3) It should strongly emphasise how our policies are going to transform the lives of individuals in this country, and not just speak about collectivities and economic abstractions. It should offer something that every individual can imagine and hope for.
4) We have great policies in the Manifesto. The problem is not the policies but the extent to which they are seen to form a coherent inspiring whole.
5) Generating an articulate vision of how a Labour government can transform people’s lives is not just a long-term project, it’s an absolute priority and an urgent necessity. Everyday that goes by without such a vision is a day lost.
6) Armed with such a programme, Labour politicians will speak with greater confidence and far greater impact and resonance. Our responses to events will no longer be short-term reactions: they will draw positively from our plan for the future. This will remove the “Oh god, what are we going to say about this?” factor, make our responses faster, improve how our statements are reported in the media, and speak more powerfully to our potential electors.
7) Once you have such a programme, you get more say in defining the political agenda, and you are more likely to be able to marginalise the Tories: people with an idea will be talking to people without an idea.
8) Such an approach would be easier to unite around and more difficult to oppose within the Party: it would be harder for anyone to disagree with.
WHAT THIS MEANS
The Party would benefit from a joined-up vision targeted on each individual in society being an active and important part of our whole community.
The plan would be to change and revitalise many of the things which make these things possible. Recent governments have been chipping away at many of these former facilities like youth clubs and education and job apprenticeships.
Yet all too often, when the government cuts back on benefits, say, we argue about the levels of cash rather than the whole issue. Similarly, when black on black knife crime soared this year, some of the argument concentrated on the reduction of police numbers. That police cut DOES have an effect, but our Party’s position should be that we will implement changes which will attempt to reduce these crimes happening in the first place by giving the perpetrators and victims much more of a chance of transitioning from childhood to adulthood with a sense that they ARE wanted and NEEDED in society through a variety of programmes, like apprenticeship schemes.
However the plan is not, and should not be solely about the millions of disadvantaged and forgotten families located largely out of sight in housing schemes often on the outskirts of our larger cities. No, it should be a plan for every individual in society, ensuring that from the cradle to the grave there will be facilities to enable them to learn, develop their personalities, help others and feel good about living in a modern Britain.
As we are moving towards shorter working weeks, we should reach out to people with increasingly more time on their hands. In the 1980s, Labour Weekly ran a piece on this issue, based on an interview with a futurologist who said that the Labour Party should prepare IN ADVANCE for this BEFORE it happened. They should provide adult education for people who want to learn things for their interest and satisfaction, and organise schemes for people with more time to do things in the community – like providing gardening maintenance for the elderly.
Sadly, as we know, nothing was done about this proposal for a future Britain.
That future is now about to happen, and Labour needs to be setting out a new plan for a new future ensuring that every single person, young or old is given the opportunity to live a complete and fulfilling life on all levels of experience.
WHAT THIS MIGHT LOOK LIKE
We propose a new vision of the future, not only an economic and technological leap towards better conditions for the many and not just the few, but a giant step towards a new kind of society in which every individual is entitled to a life worth living.
We see the greatest asset that we hold in common is our human potential: it is this we must value most and this we must invest in. We want to build a society in which every individual can discover and learn throughout life, sharing the pleasure of that with the others around them, and developing their mental, physical, aesthetic, emotional, and social lives to the full. Making people free doesn't just mean letting them vote for the government every few years: it means giving them the concrete resources to make real choices about their lives: it means giving people free time and access to social wealth and to education for life.
We want to build a different kind of society with opportunity for everyone. Many people are trapped in the current system, deprived of any breathing-space in which to make decisions about their lives, beset by one problem after another. We first need to lift the burden from their shoulders and open up that breathing-space for them. This means redistributing wealth, taxing the better-off, introducing rent controls, and raising minimal wages and benefits. But this is just the first step. We also need to open up their life opportunities by reducing the working week and building an education system that is available to everyone for life.
We are the fifth largest economy, yet many people - even those in work - are forced to use foodbanks to get by. Getting more money into people’s pockets is a start, but beyond the alleviation of grinding poverty lies the goal of making a society in which every individual can fulfil their potential. This is a true vision of opportunity. The Right have historically argued that they defend the interests of the individual against the encroachments of Labour’s collectivism. It is time for us to take back the individual. Opportunity for individuals can take many forms. We will build youth-clubs, open sports facilities, revitalise adult education, and vastly expand the availability of apprenticeships. Ours is a plan for every individual in society, ensuring that from the cradle to the grave there will be facilities to enable everyone to learn, develop their potentials, help others, and feel good about living in a modern Britain.
Today many people in this country are socially isolated by the sheer weight of daily problems pressing down on them. We say: give people a little time and a little space, and community will follow. Make young people feel that they are valued, that their potentials are as important as anyone elses. The current spike in knife-crime requires an increase in police numbers, yes, but if young people can see that they are valued future citizens, and that different pathways are open to them to transition to adulthood, we will be on the way to preventing those crimes from happening in the first place. Having a joined-up vision of the future encourages the development of joined-up solutions to immediate problems, and these are more likely to be effective and long-term solutions and not just short-term increases in spending.
We need to grasp the future and invest in automation to progressively reduce the working week. We want every individual to have time that is free from the need to work, time that is truly their own. We do not have to define exactly how the wealth producd by automation will be redistributed, perhaps by a re-structured wages system, perhaps by a universal basic income, but our political demand is for every individual to have the time and the resources to benefit from the opportunities offered by a new society.
We are an informal group of Labour Party members. The Labour Party has for the first time in many years a leadership that is principled and radical. The responsibility that we all share as members is to re-imagine what the Left can be and what the Left can hope to achieve. This is why explicitly claiming and defining a different future is so vital at this moment in time.
A concise statement could be put out within the Party with a time-limited invitation to comment from the membership. This statement could be presented as a tool for activism.