For the sake of the Left, Corbyn must go

Like hundreds of thousands of Labour members and supporters, I voted for Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader a year ago.  I voted for Corbyn because I believed that he was the only candidate who would be willing to break out of the reactive, negative politics of his opponents and set out a real economic and […]

The choices before the Labour Party

Countless gallons of cyber-ink have been spilled over Labour’s unexpectedly disastrous performance in the 2015 General Election.  A leadership campaign is now under way – one that so far has produced, in my view, little that is positive.  Among much muttering about Blairism, aspiration and were we too left-wing, there is little suggestion that we […]

Rachel Reeves and social security – looking beyond the short term

Unlike a lot of people on the Left, I thought it worth waiting to read what Rachel Reeves actually said in her keynote speech on Labour’s social security policy before taking a view.  Indeed, it has been interesting to see large numbers of people who presumably are not among the Sun or the Telegraph’s most ardent […]

Deconstructing Rachel Reeves: how to reframe the social security debate

It didn’t last long. The cheering had barely died down after Liam Byrne’s removal as Labour DWP spokesman when along comes his successor, Rachel Reeves, apparently using much of the same rhetoric.  It wasn’t that she didn’t have important points to make – about the fact that Tory austerity has contributed massively to the overall […]

Coming home

There is a cynical view that party conferences are so much hot air – three weeks in which the party faithful essentially look inwards, with little that is relevant to the need of the wider world.  That may be true at times, but this years conference season – and the events that have immediately followed […]

Labour’s failure to grasp the essentials of youth unemployment

A piece in the New Statesman yesterday by Stephen Twigg and Liam Byrne seeks to summarise Labour’s Youth Jobs Taskforce, led by Alan Buckle, deputy chairman of KPMG: it’s interesting not for what it says but what it omits. Assuming this piece represents it correctly, the report concentrates entirely on supply-side issues.  Twigg and Byrne talk […]

Labour and benefits: a regressive policy

In the last few days, Labour has begun to clarify its policy on benefits.  It’s far from encouraging.  There is still little to suggest that the party has not broken out of its dangerous tendency of allowing the Tories and their media to set the agenda, and the implications of its  announcements are that many […]

Abolishing the universal state pension – the new Westminster consensus?

Over the weekend, Ian Duncan Smith made widely reported comments that wealthy pensioners should be prepared to return some of their benefits – notably winter fuel payments and free bus passes.  This morning on the BBC Today programme, Labour DWP spokesman Liam Byrne (unsurprisingly) refused to defend the principle of universality. Nick Clegg and his […]

Margaret Thatcher’s greatest achievement? One Nation Labour and the politics of fear

Notoriously, when asked what was her greatest achievement, Margaret Thatcher answered: “Tony Blair and New Labour”.  Margaret Thatcher was not known as a humorous woman, so one has to assume that she was not being facetious.  And the point remains; Labour was swept to power in 1997 and, despite some distinctly non-Thatcherite legislative achievements (the […]

The peculiar obsessions of Liam Byrne

Once again, the opinions of Labour’s DWP spokesman Liam Byrne are causing controversy – this time a short piece in the Observer that starts off surprisingly well with quite a cogent critique of the failings of Coalition welfare policy, before shooting himself spectacularly in the foot by proposing a raft of solutions demonstrating his acceptance […]