The history and origin of the Labour Party is important, in that it came into being in the cause of an historically necessary class struggle. It became a movement to this end and made the major contribution towards the creation of a more balanced and civilised society. Part of our problem today is that the legacy of our distinguished history is still with us. It has left us short of being a national party in the complete sense of the word. We may be the party of the North; of Wales and Scotland; of the inner cities and the deprived; but we are not the natural party of the more prosperous and populated centre and south of England. This situation, so well identified by Giles Radice in his ”Southern Discomfort” series, is at the very heart of Labour’s problems for the future. Their solution provides the key to all of this.
It is necessary that Labour, out of power after years in government, engages in a process of self-analysis. Unless we demand the luxury of insisting that the electorate got it wrong, without trashing the enormous achievements of Labour in government, we have to look at what we didn’t get right. That process must ask us to look not just to policy but to our tradition and to align them with the present. Labour’s tradition, like that of most radical parties across the world, was clearly Utopian. Labour was a bold party holding out a vision of society, not as it was, but as it could be.
As some of you may know I have co-edited a book about the future of the Labour Party which is rather appropriately titled ‘What next for Labour? Ideas for a new generation’. The book has contributions from MPs, Peers and activists and includes contributions from those on the left and right of the Labour Party which is what is needed for a real debate. Each day an extract from each contribution from the book will feature on this blog. It will kick off today with the contribution from Labour MP for Manchester Central and Chairman of the Parliamentary Labour Party, Tony Lloyd. You can read his piece here. I hope you’ll consider buying the book! More information including quotes from the book can be found at www.whatnextforlabour.com
With rumours of a shadow cabinet reshuffle later this week this could be Ed Miliband’s moment to have a fully effective shadow cabinet of his choosing. Last month the Parliamentary Labour Party voted to scrap elections to the shadow cabinet whilst in opposition thus meaning the leader of the Labour Party can chose his or her own team. As I said when I blogged about this last month, if Ed Miliband really wanted to make party members feel ‘wanted’ then he should have changed the rules so that party members chose 50% of the shadow cabinet and the leader chooses the other 50%.
There are some excellent MPs and shadow ministers particularly amongst the 2010 intake. People I think we could expect to see booted out of the shadow cabinet include Ivan Lewis, Meg Hillier, Mary Creagh, Ann McKechin and Caroline Flint. So who could replace them? A favourite for promotion is newly elected Rachel Reeves who is a shadow minister and former economist; other names include Stella Creasy who is a newly elected backbencher, William Bain who replaced Speaker Michael Martin in the 2009 by-election and who is currently a shadow minister, David Hanson who is a shadow minister, former Minister and PPS to Tony Blair, Kate Green elected last year who has made a big impact and is chair of the Women’s PLP, and Tom Greatex who is a newly elected MP and shadow minister for Scotland as well previously being adviser to 3 Secretaries of State for Scotland.
I would very much like to see Vernon Coaker in the shadow cabinet as he has done an excellent job with his police portfolio – however I think if he is promoted then I don’t think his replacement could do as much as he has done as shadow minister for police. I would expect to see Dan Jarvis as shadow minister for defence and Debbie Abrahams as shadow minister for health. Perhaps Debbie may replace Dianne Abbot as shadow minister for public health.
One thing is clear, Ed Miliband needs to have a shadow cabinet who are familiar to the public. As Ann Black from the Labour Party’s NEC said in the book ‘What next for Labour?’ “The jury is still out on Ed Miliband, but few would recognise most of today’s shadow cabinet” and she is quite right – Ed needs a top team who people know and who people can name. His team needs to be a credible cabinet in waiting.
Just my thoughts!
The Transport Secretary Phillip Hammond has announced that the speed limit on motorways in Britain will increase from 70 miles per hour to 80 miles per hour in 2013. The announcement comes a day after the Department for Transport announced that the number of road accidents reported to the police is down 6% in 2010 compared to 2009. Additionally the number of people killed in 2010 was down 17% compared to 2009 and the number of people seriously injured in road accidents is down 8%.
However safety campaigners have warned that increasing the speed limit by 10 MPH could mean lives are put at risk particularly as crash barriers can only withstand a 70 MPH crash. There are also downsides to the proposal such as increased fuel consumption and the impact that could have on the climate.
Supporters of the move say it would mean faster journey times which is good for the economy. Perhaps one suggestion would be to increase the speed limit when the roads are quieter such as between 10PM and 6AM? Either way it could be hard to implement as a number of drivers already exceed the 70MPH speed limit on Britain’s motorways.