Pamphlet I – July 2011

Pragmatic Radicalism: Ideas from Labour’s New Generation was published in July 2011 and was launched in the House of Commons.

Below are extracts. You can read the individual articles by rolling over the ‘Pamphlet I – Ideas from Labour’s New Generation’ button. You can also order yor copy here.


“I am delighted to be associated with this new collection of essays from some of Labour’s activists and writers. Pragmatic Radicalism is over-flowing with exciting, radical ideas from Labour’s New Generation. With Labour embarking on its Policy Review, as many members as possible should have an opportunity to have a say and do the thinking necessary to ensure that Labour remains the party with the ideas and solutions to meet the challenges of the future.  Pragmatic Radicalism is an important contribution to the process.  It is yet more proof for us in Westminster that future policy development must happen at the grassroots as much as the Shadow Cabinet table.   What these pithy and apposite essays demonstrate is that the Labour party is vibrant, and that the New Generation, defined not by age, but attitude, is ready to rise to the challenge set by our leader, Ed Miliband.”  Luciana Berger – Foreword

“The pamphlet is not meant as an insurrection against established channels.  It does not intend, nor would it be capable of duplicating the fine work of the Fabians, Progress, Compass, Demos, Left Foot Forward, LabourList, Labour Uncut, ippr and others. Pragmatic Radicalism is a new venture which it is hoped will in a small way stimulate debate within and beyond the left, in a spirit of fraternal endeavour with our more experienced counterparts. The Labour Party can only be fully successful again if it speaks and listens to people from beyond its own membership and intellectual comfort zone.  We hope these essays are sufficiently accessible, relevant and challenging as to engage with the widest possible audience.”  John Slinger – Introduction

“Building an alternative policy around community engagement, devolving real power to citizens, reforming the role of the state and developing public services which place users at their heart will be far more challenging than making fun of the ‘Big Society’. However, this is the right thing to do and it is about time that Labour took back control of this agenda.” James Allen – Building Labour’s big answer to Cameron’s ‘Big Society’ 

“The contributory principle chimes with our sense of fairness too. It simply isn’t fair that someone who has worked all his life and has fallen on tough times gets the same dole money as someone who has never worked.” Josie Cluer – Talking about public service reform: values first, the policies will follow

“In a matter of decades, British society has shifted from a post-war pyramid with a tiny elite at its point, a larger middle class and a vast working class, into a diamond, where the broad middle is fattest. These natural swing voters are neither rich nor poor and, faced with a choice of altruism or ego, small or big government, are not influenced by tribal or historical patterns to link them with any of the main political ideologies as writ.” Sam Dowling – Jungle Book politics

“Because it is the most vulnerable in our society who suffer when crises are mis-handled, everybody deserves the chance to improve their own resilience and that of their communities, businesses and public services. All must be better empowered to benefit from the opportunities thrown up by crises and to become more resilient citizens, of a more resilient nation…” Dan Fox – Appetite for optimism: progress, growth and a culture of resilience

“Placing liberty at the core of the Labour party is not just the right thing to do: but an electoral necessity… To rebuild, we need to take the work started by John Smith and Charter 88 seriously. We need a British Bill of Rights that doesn’t just entrench the Human Rights Act, but goes much further in specific areas… Britain could also do with a strengthened first amendment defence of free expression.”  Michael Harris – The re-birth of liberal Labour

“We have a choice – we can retreat into our shell or we can, with humility and respect, employ our soft and sometimes hard power to help make the world a better place. Getting our foreign and security policy right is made more urgent by a world whose surprising, courageous and potentially profound changes, particularly in North Africa and the Middle East, illustrate the power of Karl Marx’s dictum that sometimes “all that is solid melts into air.” The world won’t stand still and Labour needs robust policies to be credible in opposition and, maybe sooner than we think, in government. Solidarity must remain our watchword.”  Gary Kent – Iraq and liberal interventionism

“Capitalism, like any political force, will eventually get out of control if left unchecked. The challenge for Western governments in this era of powerful multinational corporations is to create environments in which businesses can prosper without becoming governments in their own right, taxing the people but accountable only to their shareholders.” Michael McCarthy – The feasibility of government regulation of big business: notes from across the pond

“Young people, from whatever social ‘class’ they are born into, need to feel that their education can provide dividends in real life and the real world. School has to be seen to be ‘worth it’, both to the pupil and to the parents…It is Labour’s challenge to make people believe that learning is equal and that it can lead to good things as well as being open to access at all times. Without a party arguing for fairness, futures, mobility and the harnessing of affirmative self-efficacy we face challenging, divided, disgruntled and economically flat times ahead.”  Dr Phil Miles – All must have value: how Labour can revitalise and reform educational status and equality of worth

“As part of a programme to provide economic stimulus, government could invest to build 100,000 new, affordable homes, estimated at creating up to 750,000 new jobs, directly in the construction industry and indirectly in the supply chain, including thousands of apprenticeships for young people. Even the Conservative-led Government moved hesitantly in this direction in the Budget, with £250 million of support for first-time buyers to purchase a new-build property paid for by the bank levy. If they can do this, we can and should be far bolder.”  Amanda Ramsay – Snubbing TINA: there is an Alternative

“What Labour can certainly do is offer to dull the impact of the VAT rise on overall inflation, at least until companies rebuild their profits to a reasonable level. Such a move could be delivered through simply cutting the tax, which would have the obvious effect of reducing high prices on goods which middle class consumers are currently facing. To ease pressure further, the party could also look to introduce a policy advocated by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) that would increase the threshold at which companies have to register for VAT. Under the FSB’s estimates, moving this threshold up from its current level of £73,000 would hand £900m back to small and medium-sized firms, many of which are owned by people on middle incomes.”  Larry Smith – Un-squeezing the middle

“Labour should invest in a portal allowing members and supporters up and down the country to submit policy ideas for consideration. These could then be voted up or down – as with the like and dislike buttons on Facebook – with those receiving the most support being debated and deliberated by the NPF and Shadow Cabinet to ensure consistency, legality and cost control. Those activists who proposed the original ideas could then become evangelists in their communities for the agreed policies.” Will Straw and Nick Anstead – Four big ideas to refound Labour

“The last Labour government won a decisive battle in stopping the banks from dragging us into the abyss. The next Labour government will win the peace by rebuilding British housing…Imagine local authorities were given three-quarters of the right to buy revenue, rather than central government. Not only could social housing be repaired, managed and maintained to a higher standard, but councils could also reinvest the difference back into new build. An increased asset pool would provide collateral for social investments in other areas, whilst allowing for more creative asset management, such as letting some properties for market rents to pay for acquisitions in other neighbourhoods, bucking the wealth-arranged geography. It would also take the pressure off council tax as local authorities’ main means of raising revenue, now heightened by the freeze in rates.” Tom Tàbori – Now starts the rebuilding: Labour and the new housing policy

“Part of this programme should involve a shift in the tax base to sharpen incentives towards hard work. This means less tax on income and more on wealth. A land tax could form part of this transition. It would do something to dampen the British tendencies towards property speculation and bubbles. It might also form part of a Labour drive towards tax simplification. Because taxation of land is simple it would be difficult to avoid. Labour could win friends from UK Uncut to the CBI with a considered drive towards tax simplification. UK Uncut should appreciate simplifications that make tax harder to avoid and the CBI should value simplifications that support economic growth.” Jonathan Todd – Addressing the challenges of rebalancing the economy 

“The electoral benefits of a closer relationship between Labour and the unions are shown in the Australian election in 2007 and in Obama’s election in 2008, and in best practice here in Britain. The Australian unions’ campaign — Your Rights at Work — began as soon as the 2004 election was over. Mass rallies and advertising campaigns were organised alongside marginal seat campaigns to mobilise local union members. The share of voters concerned about work issues grew from 31 per cent to 53 per cent in the two years to June 2006, with three fifths of voters backing Labor’s competency on the matter over the Liberal Party.” Dan Whittle – Labour and the unions: next steps

“Labour, and indeed the parties on the left in the rest of Europe, need to develop ideas of EU-wide employee-owned companies and even EU-wide state owned companies. Breaking national monopolies and fostering trade across borders is all very well, but transnational private sector near-monopolies are surely not any better than what we have currently.” Jon Worth – Changing the frame: Britain and Europe

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