Renewal

Renewal Volume 28 No.2

Renewal is a quarterly journal of politics and ideas, committed to exploring and expanding the emancipatory potential of social democracy, which has always been a complex and contested political tradition. Renewal offers a space in which its historic purposes – the expansion of equality, democratic governance, and social freedoms – can be debated, advanced and applied to contemporary politics.

Renewal has consistently contributed to the remaking and revitalisation of the centre-left. That is why it is essential reading for those who want to chart a future for progressive politics.’ Ed Miliband MP

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Time for basic income? (Renewal 2, Summer 2020)

July 1, 2020

By exposing the tight margins on which many UK households operate, the Covid crisis has given a major boost to the case for a universal basic income.

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‘Nature is healing’: the politics of enchantment (Renewal 2, Summer 2020)

July 1, 2020

The coronavirus crisis is demonstrating nature’s enduring power to enchant us. But we must move away from constructions of ‘nature’ as separate from – a threat to or victim of – humankind. After the crisis we must build more sustainable relationships between us and the natural world.

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Covid-19, the foundational economy and ‘rooted firms’ (Renewal 2, Summer 2020)

July 1, 2020

‘Rooted’ firms deliver much more than just goods and services: they give places meaning. After the crisis, rooted firms must be prioritised, by promoting local and regional economic strategies and developing social licensing regimes.

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Not the end of ideology (Renewal 2, Summer 2020)

July 1, 2020

The government response to the coronavirus crisis involves an unprecedented level of intervention in the peacetime British economy. But the rhetorical and ideological underpinnings of these new policies reveal that little has really changed in Conservative thinking.

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Lockdown Labour: lessons from mutual aid activism (Renewal 2, Summer 2020)

July 1, 2020

Labour is currently an organisation of the few – a small activist class. We must learn from the mutual aid activism of the coronavirus crisis and transform it into community Labour.

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Labour’s rural problem (Renewal 2, Summer 2020)

July 1, 2020

Labour’s identity is deeply tied to ideas about industry and the urban, but the party must now reconsider its engagement with rural issues. One first step in setting out a social democratic vision for the rural future is an evaluation of recent Labour policy.

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Boris Johnson, Thatcherism and the rhetoric of ‘wealth creators’ (Renewal 2, Summer 2020)

July 1, 2020

Johnson’s use of the rhetoric of ‘wealth creators’ demonstrates a continuing reliance on the Thatcherite idea of ‘trickle-down’ economics. But even in the 1980s, it required much political spinning of statistics to keep the trickle-down notion alive. Labour should now challenge it vigorously.

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Roads not travelled: Piketty’s history of inequality (Renewal 2, Summer 2020)

July 1, 2020

Building on, and revising, the best-selling Capital in the Twenty-First Century, Thomas Piketty’s new book offers a sweeping history of the ideas which justified inequality in the past. It poses uncomfortable questions to the British left in the present.

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Guest editorial: Shaping the ‘new normal’ (Renewal 2, Summer 2020)

July 1, 2020

In the face of the immediate threat of the coronavirus, the struggle to establish a ‘new normal’ has begun. The left must make the case for deep structural changes towards a more just political economy, and must do so in the light of the broader crisis of climate breakdown.

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The NHS takes control: consequences for health policy in England (Renewal 2, Summer 2020)

July 1, 2020

The public health response to the pandemic has been shaped by rapidly shifting strategies and many years of underfunding and austerity. But the NHS has stepped up to the task and taken control. Many of the changes in organisation and management style that have taken place as a result are likely to be difficult to reverse.

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Power and the pandemic: civil liberties in the age of coronavirus (Renewal 2, Summer 2020)

July 1, 2020

Faced with crises, governments take emergency powers. While the suspension of normality is often necessary, the radical change in the relationship between citizens and the state poses dangers to civil liberties. Without consideration and accountability, temporary powers can have long-term, permanent effects.

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The politics of climate crisis (Renewal 2, Summer 2020)

July 1, 2020

A Planet to Win: Why We Need a Green New Deal (Verso, 2019) seeks to reframe left politics for an age of climate crisis. Renewal spoke to one of the book’s co-authors about the political project of the Green New Deal.

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The fragile society (Renewal 2, Summer 2020)

July 1, 2020

The coronavirus crisis has intensified the inequalities in our already fragile and unequal society. Labour must address these problems, through supporting universalist and poverty-reducing policies in the face of an increasing rhetoric of deserving and undeserving poor and soaring unemployment.

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‘Redlining’ the British city (Renewal 2, Summer 2020)

July 1, 2020

The ‘redlining’ of urban space was one of the many ways in which the US New Deal excluded millions of black Americans from its benefits. The concept also helps us to better grasp the operation of racialised inequality in Britain, not just in the neoliberal era but also under the aegis of post-war social democracy.

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The long road back for Labour in Scotland (Renewal 1, Spring 2020)

April 1, 2020

The UK Labour Party has been gesturing at the need to ‘win back Scotland’ since 2015. Only uniting behind positive left-wing policies and adopting a radical stance on the constitution will enable it to do so.

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A Constitutional Convention for the Labour Party (Renewal 1, Spring 2020)

April 1, 2020

How can Labour claim to be able to transform Britain, if it cannot democratise its own opaque and moribund structures? A mass membership party should aspire to create new social, communicative and material capacities, and to do so at speed.

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Why we don’t need a ‘strong leader’ (Renewal 1, Spring 2020)

April 1, 2020

How can progressive parties develop forms of leadership that enable them to bring about transformative change in twenty-first century Britain? While media discourse largely focuses on ‘strength’ and entertainment value, academic research suggests that inclusiveness, flexibility and vision are the essential attributes.

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Technology and inequality: can we decolonise the digital world? (Renewal 1, Spring 2020)

April 1, 2020

Despite a dominant narrative that sees technology as a force for social progress, it is never neutral. Current ways of thinking about tech promote a coloniality of knowledge and create a new form of technoimperialism. Creating a fairer data economy requires us to think again about how we frame the debate.

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The Green New Deal and global justice (Renewal 1, Spring 2020)

April 1, 2020

Proposals for a ‘Green New Deal’ focus on the ability of nation states in the global north to drive radical, investment-led change in their own economies. How can these be embedded within a broader agenda for global justice – one that recognises the historic legacies of colonialism and fossil capitalism?

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Alex Niven’s New Model Island: reviewed by Nick Garland (Renewal 1, Spring 2020)

April 1, 2020

In the aftermath of December’s general election, Alex Niven’s latest book, though a welcome contribution to an often tedious debate, feels like a product of another time.

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Bhaskar Sunkara’s Socialist Manifesto and Aaron Bastani’s Fully Automated Luxury Communism: reviewed by Cain Shelley (Renewal 1, Spring 2020)

April 1, 2020

Popular new books by leading figures in the new left media landscape shine a revealing light on the potential – and limits – of the case for socialism in the twenty-first century.

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Where next for the Green New Deal? (Renewal 1, Spring 2020)

April 1, 2020

Keeping the Green New Deal alive in the face of opposition, and finding routes to develop it while out of power, will be a key task for the left in the coming years.

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The dog that didn’t bark: inflation and power in the contemporary capitalist state (Renewal 1, Spring 2020)

April 1, 2020

More than a decade after the global financial crisis, inflation in major capitalist economies remains very low. This tells us something important – and disturbing – about the weakness of social democracy in the twenty-first century.

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Editorial: The end of illusions (Renewal 1, Spring 2020)

April 1, 2020

Labour’s strong performance at the 2017 general election demonstrated that policy ambition need not be a barrier to electoral success for parties of the left. Yet it also allowed all of us – including this journal – to sidestep hard and necessary reflection about the work needed to build a social democratic majority in twenty-first century Britain. After last year’s electoral rout, the future is uncertain. We must face it without illusions.

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Getting the basics right (Renewal 1, Spring 2020)

April 1, 2020

Labour needs to win big in 2024. It’s time for the party to re-learn the art of professional leadership and communication, and to accept the limits of its existing electoral coalition.

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Hanging in the balance: the democratic economy after Corbyn (Renewal 1, Spring 2020)

April 1, 2020

Under Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell, a space was created for left thinkers and activists to advance a detailed and intellectually coherent alternative to our plutocratic, extractive and environmentally devastating economic model. After Labour’s defeat, we need to hold our nerve and build a broader, more durable movement for radical change.

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Editorial: Unequal times (Renewal 4, Winter 2020)

January 12, 2020

We have been talking for a long time about the politics of place. The seeming irreconcilability of deracinated citizens of nowhere, on the one hand, and the disempowered yet resurgent people of somewhere, on the other, has been the central preoccupation of post-2016 politics.

Yet perhaps this distinction between ‘somewheres’ and ‘nowheres’ has been overdone. As David Klemperer argues in this issue, David Lammy MP’s recent book, Tribes, demonstrates a more nuanced view of place and belonging that offers promise to a politics of the left. We must find ways, as he puts it, ‘to speak the language of community and belonging that cedes no ground to opponents of social progress and minority rights’. As this mention of progress suggests, at the root of these debates over the politics of place lies another about the politics of time. The latter has been rather more neglected. Until now..

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‘Time out!’: why we’re talking about time, all the time (Renewal 4, Winter 2020)

January 12, 2020

Time is not a metaphysical dimension independent of human struggle and agency, but a set of practices through which social and political life is organised. Brexit, the Covid-19 pandemic and protests against racism can all be understood as timing struggles – clashes over the organisation of dynamic structures, institutions and relationships – that are imbued with political power but also the potential for resistance.

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As you like it: the movement is the moment (Renewal 4, Winter 2020)

January 12, 2020

The current disruptions, suspensions and hiatuses of everyday life have forced us to think more carefully about time: both the specific moment we are experiencing – the coming together of Covid-19 and the urgent call for racial justice by the BLM movement – and the way moments operate together, contemporaneously and over longer historical time. The relationship between time – the moment – and the potential for actions within that time – the movement – opens up political possibilities.

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Timing the strike: The temporalities of industrial action (Renewal 4, Winter 2020)

January 12, 2020

The time of the picket line interrupts the busyness of our ordinary working lives, opening up time for fellowship, listening and solidarities. It forces us to face up to the misery and violence of the ways our lives are ordinarily timed and allows us to notice other temporalities. The production of social time is a collective endeavour that needs to be thought about politically and together.

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Nature and nation: the politics of rural/urban belonging (Renewal 4, Winter 2020)

January 12, 2020

Public debates about the whiteness of Britain’s rural areas highlight the racialised politics of belonging in Britain. For people of colour to feel at home in rural as well as urban spaces, there needs to be greater recognition of the countryside’s colonial past and its enduring legacy for the modern image of the nation.

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Time and race in history education (Renewal 4, Winter 2020)

January 12, 2020

Calls for histories of migration, Black British experience and colonialism to be taught in schools need to be heeded. However, it is not enough to add neglected topics and silenced voices to the curriculum. Rather, we need to teach schoolchildren how to question the dominant temporalities of the way we speak about history, and in particular to question the notion that there is a continuous and separate 'island story' that characterises British history.

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Covid-19 and the Child Trust Fund (Renewal 4, Winter 2020)

January 12, 2020

Young people are likely to bear much of the economic fall-out from Covid-19. There is a case for targeting special help towards them. This could be done through the Child Trust Fund infrastructure, as the first generation of funds began to mature in September 2020.

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Beyond factionalism to unity: Labour under Starmer (Renewal 4, Winter 2020)

January 12, 2020

The Labour leader has so far pursued a deliberately ambiguous approach to both party management and policy formation. But it would be more sustainable and electorally appealing to set out a substantive, inclusive and ambitious political platform, based on the democratic economy and Green New Deal – policies around which the party can unite both its own factions and a majority of the country.

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Two David Lammys? (Renewal 4, Winter 2020)

January 12, 2020

David Lammy’s new book shows that it is possible to combine the politics of community and belonging with a strong commitment to social progress and minority rights. This thoughtful take on some prickly themes has important lessons for Labour.

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‘Save the future’: lessons in practical utopianism from the School Strikes for Climate Crisis (Renewal 4, Winter 2020)

January 12, 2020

In the two years since Greta Thunberg’s solo protest, the School Strikes for Climate Crisis have become an influential global movement. Though driven by anxiety and a strong critique of present politics, they have avoided despair and instead model ways in which we might face an uncertain future with optimism and creativity.

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Climate restoration (Renewal 4, Winter 2020)

January 12, 2020

Holly Jean Buck’s new book is a crucial intervention into climate debates. Buck simultaneously seeks to update green discourse to take better account of the magnitude of the climate emergency, and to focus attention on the kinds of communities and subjectivities that might sustain technologies of climate repair.

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Editorial: Defending, restoring, transforming (Renewal 3, Autumn 2020)

January 10, 2020

As we absorb the shocks of the pandemic and prepare for the battles ahead, Labour needs to be creative, clear-sighted, and unafraid of complexity. We must defend liberal democracy against the rising tide of the far right, while also making the case for a transformative political economy that radically redistributes power and wealth. We must be a party of values, while still honouring our founding tradition as a party of labour. And we must focus on the local, while remaining true to our internationalist principles. 

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The NHS – from stalled bureaucracy to ‘Era 3’ (Renewal 3, Autumn 2020)

January 10, 2020

Central planning of services failed to modernise the NHS, but market mechanisms are failing too. A systemic shift is approaching. As the NHS enters the third era of its history, we have the chance to embed a new set of operational principles.

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Accidents will happen? Lessons from the Covid-19 pandemic (Renewal 3, Autumn 2020)

January 10, 2020

Underfunding and a decade of top-down reorganisations have made the NHS dangerously fragile. We need not only an increase in NHS funding, but also a new approach, replacing the top-down control paradigm with a new, more consultative and iterative, culture.

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Making pandemic politics transparent: lessons from Nigeria (Renewal 3, Autumn 2020)

January 10, 2020

As details of the government’s Covid-19 procurement contracts emerge, it seems we’ve been thinking about transparency all wrong. The UK could learn a great deal from debates in Nigeria, which focus on transparency in terms of people and their connections, rather than data.

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Liberal egalitarianism: what’s worth salvaging? (Renewal 3, Autumn 2020)

January 10, 2020

John Rawls’s theory of justice still looms large; but is the tradition of liberal egalitarianism it shaped useful to the left today?

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Vernacular social democracy and the politics of Labour (Renewal 3, Autumn 2020)

January 10, 2020

Social democracy has put down deep roots in British popular culture; this is why Johnson’s government has instinctively favoured social democratic responses to the Covid-19 crisis. This vernacular social democracy is a potent resource which Labour can use to proclaim its vision of the good society.

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Raymond Aron and the contested legacy of ‘Cold War Liberalism’ (Renewal 3, Autumn 2020)

January 10, 2020

Some see Cold War liberalism as offering lessons for the defenders of democracy today, while others view it a constriction of the liberal tradition which the left must reject. What’s worth saving from the liberal tradition?

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The fascist virus is back again (Renewal 3, Autumn 2020)

January 10, 2020

Across the world, the COVID-19 crisis is boosting the rise of the far right. This wave of ultra-nationalism recalls the fascist movements of the interwar era. But are we seeing the revival of early twentieth century fascism or the birth of new ideologies?

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Social democracy, party of values (Renewal 3, Autumn 2020)

January 10, 2020

In order to reinvigorate their electoral appeal, social-democratic parties should become parties of values. They should abandon the social compromise model, which is based on defining and pleasing a target audience. Value-based social-democratic parties, by contrast, emphasise their values and the policies that promote them.

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Labour Together’s election review (Renewal 3, Autumn 2020)

January 10, 2020

Labour’s loss in the 2019 general election was the result of long-term as well as short-term factors, and a continued failure to innovate and adapt. The way forward is to reject the Tory culture war, bring voters together around a shared vision for radical economic change, and revive the party’s connections to communities.

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Election 2019 and the newer left (Renewal 3, Autumn 2020)

January 10, 2020

The decline of the industrial working class, and the idea of ‘post-workerism’, do not mean that Labour should attempt to ditch its identity as the party of the working class. Starmer’s Labour must engage with the traditional working class and new oppositional class fractions.

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On urbanism and optimism (Renewal 3, Autumn 2020)

January 10, 2020

Guy Ortolano’s latest book turns Milton Keynes from ‘an object of scorn into an object of study’, examining how social democracy was planned, built, and partially displaced in Britain’s most notorious new town. We ask him what the book tells us about social democracy past and present.

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Looking for a fight (Renewal 3, Autumn 2020)

January 10, 2020

Dimitri Batrouni’s new book integrates the Miliband and Corbyn leaderships into the party’s intellectual history. But it gives little sense of the political battles behind the ideas.

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A new world in the making: community wealth building and the co-operative sector (Renewal 3, Autumn 2020)

January 10, 2020

Joe Guinan and Martin O’Neill, The Case for Community Wealth Building, Polity 2019

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Between ‘national liberalism’ and ‘progressive internationalism’: quo vadis globalisation? (Renewal 3, Autumn 2020)

January 10, 2020

Jeremy Green, Is Globalization Over? Polity 2019

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Nationalism, the mob and left dreams (Renewal 4, Winter 2019)

December 1, 2019

The left cannot and should not compete with the right’s nationalist politics; but the current ‘clamour for nationalism’ does also suggest a popular desire for a form of politics more ambitious than the inhibited technocracies of the 1990s/2000s. The left must construct a coherent anti-nationalist politics allied to a vision big enough to meet the scale of the current crisis.

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The unexpected return of alienation: job dissatisfaction, ‘burnout’ and work estrangement in the NHS (Renewal 4, Winter 2019)

December 1, 2019

The concept of alienation has made a comeback in debates about rising job dissatisfaction and burnout in the health service. A Labour government could address these issues by empowering health workers.

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Democratic employee ownership and challenging the ideology of ‘shareholder value’ (Renewal 4, Winter 2019)

December 1, 2019

Bernie Sanders has recently proposed mandatory employee ownership trusts for all large and all publicly-traded companies. This could help rebalance the distribution of wealth, and also has the potential to challenge the narrow ideology of ‘shareholder value’ that has dominated in the past four decades.

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Pitfalls and promises for workplace democracy (Renewal 4, Winter 2019)

December 1, 2019

If democracy in the firm were organised on the right principles, it could have profound consequences for corporate influence on politics as a whole.

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Inclusive Ownership Funds: a trade union perspective (Renewal 4, Winter 2019)

December 1, 2019

Inclusive Ownership Funds can play an important role in creating a corporate governance system that would support inclusive and sustainable companies, as part of a package of measures, including strengthening collective bargaining and putting workers on company boards.

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Public ownership and the socialisation of production in the German Revolution of 1918-19 (Renewal 4, Winter 2019)

December 1, 2019

Labour’s current discussion of ‘public ownership’ has much to learn from early twentieth-century debates about the ‘socialisation’ of production and the relationship between economic and political democracy.

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Editorial: If the tide goes out (Renewal 4, Winter 2019)

December 1, 2019

Regardless of the outcome of the election on 12 December, there can be no turning back the clock on Labour’s transformation into a party of thoroughgoing economic radicalism. 

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The international institutional turn: the missing ingredient in Labour’s new political economy (Renewal 4, Winter 2019)

December 1, 2019

Labour’s economic agenda combines radical redistribution with the construction of new institutions that hard-wire democracy and social justice into Britain’s political economy. But its ambition remains largely national in scope. What policies could bring about an ‘international institutional turn’?

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Editorial: If the tide goes out (Renewal 4, Winter 2019)

December 1, 2019

Regardless of the outcome of the election on 12 December, there can be no turning back the clock on Labour’s transformation into a party of thoroughgoing economic radicalism. 

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The international institutional turn: the missing ingredient in Labour’s new political economy (Renewal 4, Winter 2019)

December 1, 2019

Labour’s economic agenda combines radical redistribution with the construction of new institutions that hard-wire democracy and social justice into Britain’s political economy. But its ambition remains largely national in scope. What policies could bring about an ‘international institutional turn’?

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Why Labour must be the party of migration justice (Renewal 4, Winter 2019)

December 1, 2019

In a world where progressive and conservative governments alike are clamping down on migrants, Labour must prioritise a radical commitment to justice for migrants.

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Interview: Deliberative democracy and the devolution of power in Camden (Renewal 4, Winter 2019)

December 1, 2019

Deliberative democracy has the power to counteract division and lack of trust in politics, deliver more radical solutions to problems, and involve communities in tackling those problems. We talked to Georgia Gould, leader of Camden Council, about the transformative potential of deliberative democracy at a local level.

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Inclusive Ownership Funds: a transatlantic agenda for transformative change (Renewal 4, Winter 2019)

December 1, 2019

Bernie Sanders and the UK Labour Party have both committed to a radical new policy on worker share ownership: Inclusive Ownership Funds. By giving workers new rights over the wealth they create and the firms that they work for, IOFs can set us on the path to the democratic economy we need.

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People-powered democracy? (Renewal 27.3, Autumn 2019)

September 1, 2019

Alexandra Runswick reviews Tony Wright and Andrew Gamble (eds), Rethinking democracy, Wiley-Blackwell, London 2018.

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Labour and England, 1997-2010 (Renewal 27.3, Autumn 2019)

September 1, 2019

New Labour entered government in 1997 with a partly-formed agenda on devolution which sidestepped the West Lothian question; the party subsequently lost many working-class voters who saw themselves as more English than British. If the party is not to repeat the mistakes of the past, we must think about English identity and the expression of England’s interests within our constitution now.

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Actually existing Corbynism (Renewal 27.3, Autumn 2019)

September 1, 2019

Looking at the Corbyn movement beyond the shadow cast by the ‘long 1970s’ allows us to see it in the light of today’s ‘new times’.

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Labour women and local activism: gender and the foundation of the Labour Party (Renewal 27.3, Autumn 2019)

September 1, 2019

Ruth Davidson reviews Nan Sloane, The Women in the Room: Labour’s Forgotten History, IB Tauris, London, 2018.

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The institution’s not for turning? Inequality, taxes and anticapitalism (Renewal 27.3, Autumn 2019)

September 1, 2019

An Excessive Pay Levy can redistribute income while empowering workers. This could be one starting point for a broader roll-out of economic democracy.

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Editorial: The unspoken dilemmas of Corbynomics (Renewal 27.3, Autumn 2019)

September 1, 2019

Advocates of Corbynomics will need to decide on the place of decentralisation and democratisation within their overall vision of economic transformation. History shows just how difficult it is for the left to give up on the idea of manipulating the levers of the central state to bring about change. And if we are serious about decentralising power we must consider how we will also achieve the paradigmatic changes needed to decarbonise our economy and save our planet.

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Realignment on the right? (Renewal 27.3, Autumn 2019)

September 1, 2019

The fall of Theresa May has ushered in a new phase in the UK’s never-ending Brexit crisis. Energy is once again behind a hard-Brexit right led by Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson. Two members of Renewal’s Editorial Board explore this new political moment, and the fresh challenges it poses for the left.

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Interview: Power in the firm (Renewal 27.3, Autumn 2019)

September 1, 2019

Elizabeth Anderson interviewed by Daniel Chandler

In her 2017 book, Private Government: How Employers Rule Our Lives (and Why We Don’t Talk About It), Elizabeth Anderson argues that workplaces give employers authoritarian powers over workers. She shows how free market discourse has blinded us to the authoritarian nature of the workplace, and explores ways to democratise work.

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The left and the case for ‘progressive reglobalisation’ (Renewal 27.3, Autumn 2019)

September 1, 2019

Neoliberal globalisation is in crisis – but it’s an illusion to believe that we can turn back the clock on forty years of international economic integration. The left urgently needs to discover the ideas and agency necessary to resist the disaster capitalists of the right, and build a progressive reglobalisation.

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The Foundational Economy and strategic planning in Barcelona: reshaping the urban economy from the bottom up (Renewal 27.2, Summer 2019)

June 1, 2019

The new Barcelona Metropolitan Strategic Plan applies the concepts of the Foundational Economy, to use strategic planning to build a more resilient and prosperous local economy for all, regaining local sovereignty over foundational services.

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Moral economy, the Foundational Economy and decarbonisation (Renewal 27.2, Summer 2019)

June 1, 2019

Political economy has become divorced from normative political theory, resulting in an uncritical economic science and a political philosophy that has little critical purchase on actually existing economic practices. The Foundational Economy Collective works within a framework of moral economy and uses the concepts of capabilities and use-value to radically reorient our conception of how our economy – or economies – should work.

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Gender, peace and reproductive justice (Renewal 27.2, Summer 2019)

June 1, 2019

Northern Irish politics is in flux – and not just because of Brexit. At the time of writing, devolved government remains suspended. The shocking murder of the 29-year-old journalist Lyra McKee during rioting in Derry/Londonderry drew widespread attention to the continuing activities of dissident paramilitary groups. Demands for social and reproductive justice, sharpened by a decade of austerity, are still being sidelined by an ossified politics of communal identity. Renewal met Claire Pierson, an academic and trade-union researcher campaigning for the reform of Northern Ireland’s notoriously restrictive abortion law, to discuss the prospects for change.

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Riding three horses at once: Ireland’s EU membership as a national development strategy (Renewal 27.2, Summer 2019)

June 1, 2019

Simple fables about the Irish Republic’s oppression at the hands of the ‘Troika’ do little to explain its deep commitment to EU membership. This forms part of a decades-long strategy of national economic development, based on reaping the gains of simultaneous exposure to British, US and European capital.

 

 

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Degrowth: the realistic alternative for Labour (Renewal 27.2, Summer 2019)

June 1, 2019

Degrowth poses a fundamental challenge to a Labour Party that has yet to decide how far it wishes to transcend – and not merely reform – a growth oriented, capitalist political economy.

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Editorial: Debating the Foundational Economy (Renewal 27.2, Summer 2019)

June 1, 2019

The idea of the Foundational Economy has the potential to radically disrupt dysfunctional old assumptions about economic development strategy. It is already being used to do so in places like Barcelona and Swansea, where it works with trends to remunicipalise public services, build local wealth through anchor institutions, and promote mutualism. The Foundational Economy offers a new way of conceptualising the very purpose of economic development, and how it can improve the lives of the many, not just the few.

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Building foundational Britain: from paradigm shift to new political practice? (Renewal 27.2, Summer 2019)

June 1, 2019

We need a paradigm shift in economic thinking, rejecting the idea of a unified national economy and thinking in terms of different economic zones. Government should be less concerned with the tradeable, competitive economy, on which most government policy currently focuses, and should be centrally concerned with improving – and decarbonising – the foundational economy, which employs 45 per cent of the UK workforce providing goods and services essential to daily wellbeing.

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Coastal Housing Group: developing the Foundational Economy in South Wales (Renewal 27.2, Summer 2019)

June 1, 2019

In the context of austerity and increasing in-work poverty, it is increasingly important for anchor institutions to contribute to building stronger economies and communities. Coastal Housing Group, as an important anchor and intermediary organisation in South Wales, has turned to the Foundational Economy approach in its work in Morriston, Swansea, to provide a framework to do this. In doing so, lessons can be learnt about rethinking economic interventions from the bottom up and, in turn, the implications this has for government policy and practice.

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From stereotypes to solidarity: the British left and the Protestant working class (Renewal 27.2, Summer 2019)

June 1, 2019

The British left needs to start taking Ulster Unionism seriously, listening and engaging with its concerns, history, and political character.

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Learning lessons: the articulation of antisemitism on campus (Renewal 27.2, Summer 2019)

June 1, 2019

We need to understand the forms antisemitism takes, and the ways in which it exceeds, as well as intersects with, debates about Palestine and Israel. A failure to listen attentively to reports of antisemitism is partly produced by a polarised and moralised discourse, in which Palestinian activism becomes a focal point of anti-racist campaigns in general. An antagonistic approach to Jewish voices can mean that the pain of antisemitism becomes unhearable in certain spaces. This is not inevitable, and must be addressed by resisting the binaries this discourse produces, and working patiently to respond to and resist antisemitism.

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Social democracy and the Europe Question: lessons from Weimar? (Renewal 1, Spring 2019)

March 1, 2019

Confronted by the catastrophe of the First World War and the fractured Europe of the 1920s, German social democrats attempted to rethink the relationship between economic integration and international cooperation. They arrived at a complex synthesis between European federation, protectionism and free trade.

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Labour’s international development policy: internationalism, globalisation, and gender (Renewal 1, Spring 2019)

March 1, 2019

Kate Osamor, A world for the many not the few. The Labour Partyís vision for international development Labour Party 2018.

In March 2018, Kate Osamor, then Shadow Secretary of State for International Development, launched the Labour policy paper A world for the many not the few, setting out a future for Britain’s aid policy under a Corbynite government. The document is remarkable for a number of reasons: firstly, its conception of Britain’s role in the world; secondly, its framing of aid and development policies and the purpose of these policies; and thirdly, its repeated and explicit invocation of a feminist approach to aid and development. This explicit engagement with feminist politics in a field which has been so shaped by patriarchal structures is welcome; but Labour could do with a more critical engagement with the long legacies of imperialism in British policies and the complicated history of the party’s own role in this imperial history.

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Place-based policy and politics (Renewal 1, Spring 2019)

March 1, 2019

Neoliberal ‘space-blind’ policy-making has failed; place-based policy-making must give power to local communities and destabilise the status quo in order to allow communities to escape from under-development traps. Unorthodox thinking and lessons from Italy’s Inner Areas Strategy suggest how this can be done.

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Editorial: When do you have to lie? (Renewal 1, Spring 2019)

March 1, 2019

Conservative dishonesty over Brexit has put Labour in a dangerous position. By holding back from formulating a coherent and realistic Brexit policy, the party has left itself with many hostages to fortune. Democratic renewal is needed if the labour movement is to openly debate and resolve the real tensions between socialist internationalism and the drive to build a Britain for the many, not the few.

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The global financial crisis and its history: responses to Adam Tooze’s Crashed (Renewal 1, Spring 2019)

March 1, 2019

Adam Tooze’s Crashed: How a Decade of Financial Crises Changed the World (2018) is a hugely significant retrospective on the politics and economics of the past decade. Although written from a perspective sympathetic to the left, it centres on two areas –the daily operations of international finance, and the shifting configurations of global geopolitics – that still confuse and alienate socialist thinkers and movements. Crashed will already be familiar to many readers, and it has already attracted a huge range of reviews. Here, we gather three perspectives on the book’s central arguments, and how they differ from other dominant analyses of our current moment.

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Socialism, (neo)liberalism, and the Treaties of Rome (Renewal 1, Spring 2019)

March 1, 2019

Revisiting socialist debates on the Treaties of Rome (1957) opens a window onto early conceptions of the potential of a European common market and Labour’s capitulation to the sovereigntist dogmas of late-imperial Britain.

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The poor always pay more: financial access to address marginalisation (Renewal 1, Spring 2019)

March 1, 2019

Attempts to increase financial access for the poor have tended to create bifurcated banking systems, which systematically disadvantage those they are designed to include, and can exacerbate inequality. Institutional reforms are needed to make financial access more equal.

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Citizen’s wealth funds, a citizen’s dividend and basic income (Renewal 1, Spring 2019)

March 1, 2019

A citizen’s wealth fund built up via progressive taxation on wealth and the one-off issue of a long-term government bond has huge progressive potential. Owned by citizens, the fund would socialise a growing proportion of wealth, build a pro-equality force into the structure of the economy and provide an annual citizen’s dividend as a step towards a weekly Basic Income.

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What does a left-wing foreign policy look like? (Renewal 1, Spring 2019)

March 1, 2019

Review of Michael Walzer, A Foreign Policy for the Left, Yale University Press, New Haven 2018

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Energy democracy and public ownership: what can Britain learn from Latin America? (Renewal 4, Winter 2018)

November 1, 2018

Uruguay and Costa Rica are world leaders in clean, public, democratically accountable energy. Their success owes much to state-owned companies with the power to drive systemic change.

In the United Kingdom, ‘public ownership’ in the energy sector has become a major demand for the Labour Party. Its real meaning, however, remains ambiguous. Neither the format nor scale of public ownership in the energy sector have been clearly outlined. Many issues remain unresolved. How will public ownership be designed at the local, regional and national level? What functions will be owned publicly, and what will be left in control of the private sector? These are deep, vital questions for the Labour Party to answer in order to deliver lasting change.

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What can an institution do? Towards Public-Common partnerships and a new common-sense (Renewal 4, Winter 2018)

November 1, 2018

On 3 May 1981, the Sunday Times published an interview with Margaret Thatcher reflecting on the first two years of her Conservative government. Although the most aggressive elements of the privatisation programme occurred later in her premiership, these first years had already seen the Conservatives sell both British Aerospace and Cable & Wireless, and reducing the government’s shareholding in British Petroleum.1 As Guinan and O’Neill noted in their summer editorial for Renewal, this was a sign of things to come: between 1980 and 1996 Britain accounted for ‘forty per cent of the total value of all assets privatised across the OECD’.2 Given the speed and scale of the British experience of privatisation, it is understandable that it has come to be a central aspect of popular characterisations of neoliberalism: an ideological commitment to rolling back public ownership, the emergence and increasing primacy of the financial markets and mass deregulation.

Neoliberals wanted to transform the institutions of economic and social life so that they demand individuals behave as individualistic self-maximisers. The left now needs to commit to the commoning of our institutions so that they engender collective and solidaristic behaviour.

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Labour’s lost tribe: winning back the working class (Renewal 4, Winter 2018)

November 1, 2018

Labour’s working-class support rose at the 2017 election, but by far less than the increase in working-class support for the Conservatives. Amid some stunning victories in affluent areas like Canterbury, Reading, Leamington Spa and Sheffield Hallam, there were disheartening losses in predominantly working class seats in Mansfield, Middleborough, Cleveland and North-East Derbyshire. This is a rapid acceleration of a longer-run trend which Labour ignores at its peril. This article will focus on the deepening problem of working-class political disengagement, and what Labour can do to reverse the trend. The emerging Corbynite policy agenda has many worthwhile elements, but in terms of addressing class inequalities, and offering a route to working-class empowerment, it leaves much to be desired.

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Labour at the crossroads – yet again (Renewal 4, Winter 2018)

November 1, 2018

Simon Hannah, A Party with Socialists in It. A History of the Labour Left, Pluto Press, 2018
Richard Seymour, Corbyn. The Strange Rebirth of Radical Politics, Verso, 2017
Mark Perryman (ed.), The Corbyn Effect, Lawrence and Wishart, 2017
Tom Harris, Ten Years in the Death of the Labour Party, Politicos, 2018
Andrew Hindmoor, What’s Left Now? The History and Future of Social Democracy, Oxford University Press, 2018
Richard Jobson, Nostalgia and the Post-War Labour Party. Prisoners of the Past, Manchester University Press, 2018

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The present and future of techno-scepticism: two books on the dangers of technology (Renewal 4, Winter 2018)

November 1, 2018

James Bridle, New Dark Age. Technology and the End of the Future, Verso, 2018
James Williams, Stand Out of Our Light. Freedom and Resistance in the Attention Economy, Cambridge University Press, 2018

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Beyond Mont Pelerin: how does a movement prepare for power? (Renewal 4, Winter 2018)

November 1, 2018

Since the 2008 crisis there has been a revival of interest in the question: what does it take to achieve systemic change? With a Labour leadership committed to such change now within touching distance of power, these questions have suddenly become much more immediate and vital for the UK left. Over the past six months, Joe Guinan and Christine Berry have been looking at how radical governments of both the left and right have succeeded – and failed – in catalysing transformative shifts in the economy. They have been asking what lessons the Labour left in Britain today can draw from these precedents, and what this means for where the movement must go next. This work will be published in book form next year as People Get Ready. 

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The future of the Irish border (Renewal 4, Winter 2018)

November 1, 2018

We have discovered recently how little some politicians in Britain know about the island of Ireland. Their weighty pronouncements and momentous decisions about the future of the Irish border are unburdened by knowledge. They are free from the sense of responsibility or caution that even a cursory glance at Irish history and politics would surely encourage.

Marina Hyde has described British government ministers as moving from ‘posttruth’ to ‘post-shame’. This is an all too apt description when it comes to the Irish border issue. There is apparently no shame in seeking to exploit British ignorance about Northern Ireland. In fact, such ignorance is nurtured in order to secure implicit permission to play with the peace. 

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Power, Brexit, gender, tech (Renewal 4, Winter 2018)

November 1, 2018

The IPPR’s Commission on Economic Justice published its final report, Prosperity and Justice, on 5 September 2018. Based on two years of research, and led by a group of twenty-two Commissioners from across business, trade unions, activism, churches and academia, the report is a uniquely authoritative statement of an emerging new paradigm in British economic policy. The report sets out an analysis of the deep-seated problems with the UK’s economy, and offers a transformative plan to ‘hard-wire’ justice and sustainability into Britain’s economic model. Michael Jacobs was director of the Commission, and Carys Roberts one of its principal researchers. Renewal caught up with both of them to discuss the politics of the report: its scope, aims, omissions, and underlying sensibilities.

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The fragmentation of the electoral left since 2010 (Renewal 4, Winter 2018)

November 1, 2018

The shape of electoral politics in Britain has been changing over the past decade, with those with ‘left-wing’ economic values becoming fragmented by their positions on other issues. This article considers how the ‘left’ in British electoral politics has been changing, by considering the values, attitudes and socio-economic positions of those within the electorate who are positioned on the ‘left’ as defined by their economic core values. It draws on data from British Election Study face-to-face surveys between 1992 and 2017 in order to look at how the ‘left’ has evolved over the last 25 years.

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Ideas worth fighting for (Renewal 4, Winter 2018)

November 1, 2018

Labour’s new economic consensus is based on taking power away from capital and returning it to our communities.

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Editorial: Can Labour break free? (Renewal 3, Autumn 2018)

September 1, 2018

The left is developing a new socialist political economy built out of new institutions. But the centralisation or decentralisation written into those institutions will determine whether this ‘institutional turn’ will extend freedom and empower individuals and communities, or tend towards bureaucracy and paternalism. 

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Street-level climate politics (Renewal 3, Autumn 2018)

September 1, 2018

Labour currently governs most of Britain’s cities and large towns. How can it use this power to respond to the challenge of climate change? Jon Burke, Labour Cabinet Member for Energy and Sustainability on Hackney Borough Council, and Mika Minio-Paluello, an energy economist and activist, discuss climate transition, local government, and the potential for a geographical and ecological rebalancing of Britain’s economy.

 

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Rebuilding our institutions: Social security for the future (Renewal 3, Autumn 2018)

September 1, 2018

Three recent books engage with the challenges of building institutions that can deliver real social security and empower people as workers and citizens. Relationality and localism will be key to this, but we must not lose sight of the need for a strong central state too.

Chris Renwick, Bread for all: The origins of the welfare state, Allen Lane, 2017.

Hilary Cottam, Radical help: How we can remake the relationships between us and revolutionise the welfare state, Virago, 2018.

Virginia Doellgast, Nathan Lillie, and Valeria Pulignano, eds., Reconstructing solidarity: Labour unions, precarious work, and the politics of institutional change in Europe, Oxford University Press, 2018.

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Big politics, big organising, and internationalism: How the left can win (Renewal 3, Autumn 2018)

September 1, 2018

In political campaigns in the UK, US, Canada and elsewhere we are seeing the importance of big politics – ideas radical enough to tackle the vast challenges we face – and big organising – building social movements and empowering volunteers to drive campaigns at scale. The left must work together across national borders to combat the threat of the far right. An internationalist approach to movement building brings new ideas, new techniques, new solidarities and a new sense of optimism when times are tough.

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The Cosmopolitan Rejoinder: Professor Mary Kaldor in conversation with James Stafford and George Morris (Renewal 3, Autumn 2018)

September 1, 2018

Over a career spanning five decades, the peace activist and academic Mary Kaldor has argued for a cosmopolitan left: supportive of global governance, the European Union and the human rights movement, and sceptical of the nation-state’s ability to provide security or justice. Renewal met Kaldor to discuss her support for left campaigns against Brexit, and to ask what remains of projects for a left-liberal globalism in our current age of revived national power-politics.

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‘No jobs on a dead planet’: Energy democracy, public ownership, and union opposition to mega-energy projects (Renewal 3, Autumn 2018)

September 1, 2018

‘Energy democracy’ has emerged as a central concept in left debates over climate change and energy transition. This essay is an exploration of its provenance and potential, centred on the challenge posed by energy democracy to older varieties of ‘jobs-first’ trade-unionism.

 

 

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Public ownership: Two responses (Renewal 3, Autumn 2018)

September 1, 2018

In our last issue, we previewed Thomas Hanna’s book, Our Common Wealth: The return of public ownership in the United States.1 Here two activists and thinkers, Satoko Kishimoto of the Transnational Institute, Amsterdam, and Cat Hobbs, founder of We Own It, comment on Hanna’s work.

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Political economy and the need for a moral critique of capitalism (Renewal 3, Autumn 2018)

September 1, 2018

A review of Tim Rogan, The Moral Economists: R. H. Tawney, Karl Polanyi, E. P. Thompson, and the Critique of Capitalism, Princeton University Press, 2017.

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Turning against China (Renewal 3, Autumn 2018)

September 1, 2018

The Trump administration’s trade theatrics are drawing attention from a deeper shift in US foreign and trade policy. Washington is giving up on decades of attempts to integrate China within a US-led world order. The implications, from the future of the WTO to the control of advanced technologies, will long outlast the Trump presidency.

 

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Prevent, Muslim identity, and the normalisation of neoliberalism (Renewal 3, Autumn 2018)

September 1, 2018

The government’s Prevent strategy is failing: based on flawed studies, rather than tackling radicalisation it entrenches the idea that Islam is a ‘danger’ to British society, alienating Muslims and fracturing communities. At the root of this is a neoliberal conception of ‘normality’ which is individualistic, depoliticised and rigidly secular.

 

 

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Editorial: The institutional turn: Labour’s new political economy (Renewal 2, Summer 2018)

July 1, 2018

The Labour leadership is putting together the elements of a new twenty-first century socialist political economy with a direct focus on ownership, control, democracy, and participation. Rolled out across the entire economy, it could displace traditional corporate and financial power in Britain.

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The return of public ownership (Renewal 2, Summer 2018)

July 1, 2018

Public ownership is back. And, in fact, outside the UK it never really went away – as a forthcoming book amply demonstrates. Democratised and decentralised forms of public ownership can and should be a component of the left’s vision for a new economic settlement.

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‘The everyday economy’ and the next economic settlement (Renewal 2, Summer 2018)

July 1, 2018

A review of Rachel Reeves, The Everyday Economy, 2018. 
 

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Response: Labour and the varieties of feminism (Renewal 2, Summer 2018)

July 1, 2018

In our last issue, Charlotte Proudman offered a strongly critical account of the Labour leadership’s engagement with the feminist tradition. Here, two scholars of feminism and race offer their reflections on the arguments she raised.

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Greening the UK’s economic model (Renewal 2, Summer 2018)

July 1, 2018

A green industrial strategy and green quantitative easing could set us on the path towards an environmentally and socially sustainable political economy.

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Beyond extraction: The political power of community wealth building (Renewal 2, Summer 2018)

July 1, 2018

An interview with Ted Howard, Co-Founder and President of the Democracy Collaborative, a Washington, D.C.-based ‘think-do tank’ that develops and promotes ideas for a more democratic economy. Howard is now an adviser to the Labour Party’s new Community Wealth Building Unit.

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Spectacle, places and political change: 1968 and now (Renewal 2, Summer 2018)

July 1, 2018

Fifty years on from 1968, we can learn valuable lessons about how we use spectacle and space to effect political change. It also prompts us to think about the importance of intersectionality, as well as the need to move contemporary politics ‘beyond the fragments’.

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Brexit and the loss of meaning – impressions from Great Yarmouth (Renewal 2, Summer 2018)

July 1, 2018

Unlocking the meaning of the ‘Leave’ vote means understanding popular alienation from the logics of the British state.

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Healthcare on the brink? Assessing the crisis in General Practice (Renewal 2, Summer 2018)

July 1, 2018

In recent years, General Practice has become a major site of conflict over the condition of the National Health Service. This article offers a detailed account of what the ‘crisis’ in General Practice really consists of, and suggests some ways forward for a reforming Labour government.

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The not-so-neoliberal university (Renewal 2, Summer 2018)

July 1, 2018

Higher education in Britain is often described as increasingly neoliberal, driven by market imperatives and audit culture. But the neoliberalisation has been only partial. A resurgence of technocratic, corporatist ideas can also be detected in how government relates to the sector.

 

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Editorial: Work, autonomy and community (Renewal 1, Spring 2018)

April 1, 2018

Since we took on the co-editorship Renewal at the start of 2016, we have deliberately focused our efforts on filling in the conceptual gaps between academic analysis and specific policy proposals. The contributions we have sought – on Europe, inequality, community wealth, localism, democratisation and the social composition of the electorate – have been aimed at both raising the ambitions of Labour’s politics and ensuring their relevance to an age of multiple crises. With the left in a strengthened position and the Labour party enjoying something of an internal truce, this issue takes the opportunity to investigate the normative foundations for a twenty-first century social democracy. Beyond the reversal of the damage caused by state austerity and corporate excess, beyond even the construction of new institutions to guarantee economic justice and ecological stability, what kinds of emancipation, what forms of life, should the left promote? Our contributors, in various ways, explore the ultimate purposes of social democracy, alongside the tensions and choices that confront us on the way. Together, they raise fundamental questions about the meaning of ‘work’, the value of place and community, and the realisation of social justice in the fabric of everyday life.

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Improving the quality of work (Renewal 1, Spring 2018)

April 1, 2018

When Mary Shelley wrote the preface to Frankenstein in 1831, the industrial revolution was at its height and society was being transformed by scientific developments that were taking place at a dizzying pace. In Victor Frankenstein, Shelley created a character whose enthusiasm for technological advancement and messianic determination to push the boundaries of the possible embodied the spirit of the age. But the ‘uneasy, half-vital’ being that Victor’s experiment creates turns out to be a monster. Frankenstein is the most famous literary expression of the unease Shelley and her contemporaries felt about the threat scientific advances posed for traditional human society.

Today, a fear similar to the one articulated so powerfully by Shelley is rooted in the belief that ‘half-vital’ robots will invade the workforce, take our jobs and render us redundant in a more fundamental way than simply making many of us unemployed. What societal function will we fulfil when work is carried out by someone – or something – else? How can we prepare for the changes that technological revolution will bring? Can we harness this change in order to build a fairer and more equitable society in which good work pays and bad work – including work which is less well paid, routine or mundane – is taken care of by algorithms and artificial intelligence.

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Interview: Technology, capitalism, and the future of the left (Renewal 1, Spring 2018)

April 1, 2018

Nick Srnicek, a radical political economist based in London, has emerged as one of the major contemporary left theorists of technology and capitalism in the twenty-first century. A leading advocate of a Universal Basic Income (UBI), his two books, Inventing the Future (2015) (with Alex Williams) and Platform Capitalism (2017) have been broadly influential, including for the current Labour leadership. His perspective is at once optimistic and cautious: recognising the potential of automation to enable a ‘world without work’, while warning that the left has barely begun to challenge corporate power over new technologies.

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Narrating the economy (Renewal 1, Spring 2018)

April 1, 2018

These are the questions the Framing the Economy project – a partnership between the New Economy Organisers’ Network, the Public Interest Research Centre, the Frameworks Institute and the New Economics Foundation – set out to answer. We wanted to help civil society communicate and organise more effectively, to help bring about the changes needed to move to a sustainable, equitable and democratic economy.

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The Lost World of Peter Lee (Renewal 1, Spring 2018)

April 1, 2018

County Durham emerged as a Labour heartland in the period between the First and Second World Wars, but the origins of this hegemony are poorly understood today. Labour’s rise was hard-fought and by no means inevitable. Peter Lee (1864–1935) was a political colossus who, during the 1920s and 1930s, held the leading positions in both the Durham Miners’ Association (DMA) and Durham County Council. He presided over Labour’s rise, exercising extraordinary local political power. Today, his life and work is largely forgotten in the region he did so much to transform, albeit he is commemorated in the New Town which bears his name. But his life bears scrutiny for the light it sheds on how Labour won and used power in Durham, the strengths and limits of this politics, and its contemporary relevance.

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Peter Lee and Localism Today (Renewal 1, Spring 2018)

April 1, 2018

In recounting Peter Lee’s story, John Tomaney offers a powerful account of the source and character of Labour’s strength in one of its traditional heartlands. Many of these communities, especially in the North East and Midlands, detached from global growth and benefiting least from the knowledge and creative economies, have been drifting away from Labour since midway through the last decade, a process which continued – despite our success in Britain’s cities and university towns – in June 2017. All too often, in Tomaney’s evocative phrase, the party hangs on thanks to the ‘diminishing moral and physical capital accumulated’ by past generations.

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Speenhamland, automation, and Basic Income: A response (Renewal 1, Spring 2018)

April 1, 2018

In the final edition of Renewal for 2017 (issue 25.3-4), Frederick Pitts, Lorena Lombardozzi and Neil Warner suggest that the experience of the Speenhamland reforms of 1795 were ‘an experiment in a kind of basic income’.

It was not. It was an extension of poor relief to the working poor. The supplements paid out of the rates guaranteed a net income. They were definitely not a ‘Basic Income’. The difference is crucial. A guaranteed minimum income is a minimum income level below which a household’s income is not allowed to fall, and the payment made is designed to bring a household’s net income up to the specified level. The modern equivalents are Working Tax Credits and so-called Universal Credit. In Speenhamland the supplement paid out was designed to fill the gap between the worker’s earnings and a specified minimum income that was related to the size of the family and to the price of bread. The supplement was a means-tested benefit.

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Review: David Weil, The Disintegrated Firm (Renewal 1, Spring 2018)

April 1, 2018

Review of D. Weil, The Fissured Workplace, Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press, 2014

We are living through a transformation of work. Technology is changing the content of the jobs we do, as machines replace humans in some tasks while changing the nature of others, with important consequences for employment and inequality. But technology is also changing the organisation of work: the way that tasks are bundled into jobs, the way that jobs and workers are organised into firms, and the nature of the employment relationship between firms and workers. Changes in the organisation of work, and their implications for inequality, have risen up the political agenda in recent years, spurred by the rise of platforms like Uber and Deliveroo, and of the ‘gig economy’ more broadly. But these changes are best understood as the latest manifestation of a longer-term transformation which has been underway since the 1980s.

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Feminism and the Labour Left: a perfect political union? (Renewal 1, Spring 2018)

April 1, 2018

Socialist politics has sometimes had a difficult relationship with issues of gender inequality and feminism, but, since at least the 1980s, the Labour Party has committed itself to championing gender equality alongside issues of class and economic equality. This article examines the relationship between socialism, Labour, the Labour Left and feminism historically, before turning to key feminist policies and debates in the present, in order to suggest how gender should feature in Labour’s programme for 2018 and beyond.

Socialism and feminism have the potential to be reconciled. The theory of ‘intersectionality’, an idea coined by Kimberle Crenshaw in the 1980s, offers a way forward. Applying an intersectional approach involves identifying the different strands of people’s experiences and vectors of identity and oppression stemming from gender, race, class, disability, religion and immigration status. This has yet to become mainstream within political parties, but it is vital for Labour to take intersectionality seriously if we are to deal effectively with all the facets of inequality in twenty-first century Britain.

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Alternatives to State-Socialism in Britain: Other Worlds of Labour in the Twentieth Century (Renewal 1, Spring 2018)

April 1, 2018

In recent years, many on the left of Labour have called for the party to roll back what they see as New Labour’s accommodation with the legacy of Thatcherism. In policy terms – not least in the party’s highly successful 2017 manifesto – this has generally centred on reasserting the primacy of the state, to counter the sharper edges of an increasingly marketised society. However, the Corbyn-led Labour Party also aspires to be a social movement, emphasising decentralization, localism, grassroots campaigning and civil society.

‘Blue Labour’ thinkers, meanwhile, continue to advance an alternative viewpoint, arguing that the statism of not only Corbynism but also Blairism is representative of longer deficiencies in left thought. For example, in Maurice Glasman’s account, the post-1945 settlement’s emphasis on collective bargaining between the state and trade unions eroded older mutualist traditions of self-help. Civil society, it is held, holds the key to re-engaging with communities forgotten by the rarefied, technocratic modern left.

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Young and old meritocracy: from radical critique to neoliberal tool (Renewal 1, Spring 2018)

April 1, 2018

‘Meritocracy’ today is generally understood to involve the idea that a fair social system is one in which people can work hard, activate their talent and achieve social success. This credo has come to be ‘common sense’ within modern society. There is more-than-ample evidence, primarily through his own journalistic and social media output, that Toby Young believes that dramatic levels of inequality – the opposite of ‘a level playing field’ – are justifiable (he has often gone on record defending the aristocracy). It is also well known, to those with enough of the relevant cultural capital, that Michael Young’s 1958 bestseller The Rise of the Meritocracy critiqued the concept. The book was a satire, with the first half documenting the expansion of democracy in Britain, and the second imagining a sci-fi dystopia featuring a black market trade in brainy babies. The New Republic columnist Jeet Heer tweeted on 1 January: ‘Michael Young was the great theorist of meritocracy. Toby Young is the living refutation of meritocracy’

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The new economy, social change, and polarised places: A changed terrain for British politics (Renewal 3, 4, Autumn/Winter 2017)

December 1, 2017

Globalisation has changed British politics, but its new dynamics can’t be reduced to a battle between ‘cosmopolitans’ and ‘nativists’. If Labour is to take power, it needs to understand better the divergent attitudes prevalent in different parts of the country, promoting a radical agenda for economic change and political de-centralisation.

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Corbyn’s Labour and the populism question (Renewal 3, 4, Autumn/Winter 2017)

December 1, 2017

It’s now common to hear Corbynism described as ‘populist’. But if we examine the core characteristics of populism, we find Corbynism bears only a very superficial resemblance to populist movements. This framing often functions as an attempt to delegitimise any political view lying outside the centre-ground of politics, and should be resisted. 

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Labour’s Programme and EU Law (Renewal 3, 4, Autumn/Winter 2017)

December 1, 2017

It has been routinely asserted that Labour’s 2017 election programme is incompatible with ‘neoliberal’ European law. Here, two senior European competition lawyers take issue with this assessment. They offer a comprehensive legal analysis of the 2017 manifesto, grounded in a historical and political-economic argument that European rules are not hostile to nationalisation, and seek instead to promote the ‘social market’ economy favoured by German and Scandinavian social democrats.

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Conference conversations: Alex Sobel, Monique Charles, Li Andersson, and Mat Lawrence (Renewal 3, 4, Autumn/Winter 2017)

December 1, 2017

This year, several members of Renewal’s editorial team were lucky enough to attend a packed and vibrant Labour Party Conference. We recorded interviews with a range of people we met there, addressing topics ranging from Britain’s productivity crisis to the fate of the Finnish left and the role of grime music in the Corbyn surge.

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Tory ideology and social policy under Theresa May: Current and future directions (Renewal 3, 4, Autumn/Winter 2017)

December 1, 2017

Theresa May has sought to construct a distinctive social policy offering during her time as Prime Minister, but remains stymied by a toxic combination of triangulation and austerity. Labour must demonstrate the vacuity and incoherence at the heart of May’s project, and construct a credible, transformative alternative policy. 

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Tuition fees and the neoliberal university: Responding to the 2017 Higher Education and Research Act (Renewal 3, 4, Autumn/Winter 2017)

December 1, 2017

Labour’s manifesto commitment to abolish university tuition fees has sometimes been criticised as a ‘bribe’ to young voters and the middle classes. But the proposals are far more progressive than our existing fees system in England, and present a moral alternative to a narrowly neoliberal view of the value of learning.

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Platform co-operativism: review essay (Renewal 3, 4, Autumn/Winter 2017)

December 1, 2017

David Jacobs reviews Designing Reality: How to Survive and Thrive in the Third Digital Revolution by Neil Gershenfeld, Alan Gershenfled and Joel Cutcher-Gershenfeld, and Uberworked and Underpaid: How Workers Are Disrupting the Digital Economy by Trebor Scholz.

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Editorial: ready for government? (Renewal 3, 4, Autumn/Winter 2017)

December 1, 2017

Labour transformed the electoral map in June. Though the Conservatives form the largest party in the House of Commons, Labour has turned many safe Tory seats into marginals, loosening Theresa May’s grip on her own parliamentary party. Labour now needs a relatively small swing – just 3.57 per cent – to win a majority of one at the next election. With Jeremy Corbyn receiving deserved praise for an energetic and astute campaign, there are now spaces of possibility in contemporary British politics that are unique in the developed world. The prospects are exhilarating; but the volume of work needed to prepare the party for government remains formidable. In this issue, we offer our contribution, focusing on Labour’s new voters, European policy, the public sector, and the challenges posed by emergent forms of capitalism.

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The revolt of the ‘squeezed middle’: Why new cross-society coalitions in British politics are now possible (Renewal 3, 4, Autumn/Winter 2017)

December 1, 2017

Since the Brexit referendum, cultural and identity explanations for the polarisation of British society have saturated public debate. A comparison between students’ and Brexit voters’ attitudes to economic insecurity, however, reveals surprising similarities between these supposedly opposing groups. Reforms to higher education and the welfare state could be the key to winning a governing majority for Labour.

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All out war? Brexit, voting and the production of division (Renewal 3, 4, Autumn/Winter 2017)

December 1, 2017

It’s commonly assumed that the Brexit referendum exposed pre-existing faultlines in British society. But we need to take seriously the idea that voting produces divisions and identities, rather than simply measuring them. If we consider the sorts of subjects and identities our current modes of voting in elections and referendums produce, we might be prompted to embrace more reflective, and more deliberative, democratic practices, in order to bridge rather than entrench divisions in British society. 

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Hope amidst despair? Stuart Holland on Brexit, Europe and Labour’s new economics, in conversation with Martin O’Neill (Renewal 3, 4, Autumn/Winter 2017)

December 1, 2017

Few living figures can match Stuart Holland’s range of experience and insight into both British and continental European politics. As an advisor to Harold Wilson, Willy Brandt, Jacques Delors and António Guterres, Labour MP for Vauxhall 1979-89, and as a leading light behind Labour’s economic programmes in the 1970s and early 1980s, he has profoundly shaped the political economy of the Labour left and the case for a ‘Social Europe’. With the left now ascendant within Labour, the EU locked in permanent crisis, and the UK struggling to come to terms with Brexit, Renewal caught up with Stuart Holland in Coimbra, Portugal.

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Fragmentation and decline? The UK and the global trading system after Brexit (Renewal 3, 4, Autumn/Winter 2017)

December 1, 2017

The international political environment will inevitably affect the UK government’s ability to pursue its trade policy goals after Brexit. Global trade politics is marked by significant institutional fragmentation, creating a difficult environment for a ‘middle power’ like the UK. In order to safeguard progressive policy objectives, the UK should pass a Trade Bill that would bring trade policy under domestic public scrutiny.

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Protecting the legacy: developing a Labour vision for health and social care (Renewal 3, 4, Autumn/Winter 2017)

December 1, 2017

The NHS in its current form is good at keeping people alive but not at keeping them well. Labour should be championing a fundamental change to how we fund and provide health and care, with the aim of keeping people well, and supporting people with long term conditions

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Speenhamland, automation and the basic income: A warning from history? (Renewal 3, 4, Autumn/Winter 2017)

December 1, 2017

Basic income may not be the ideal response to automation and technological unemployment envisaged by its proponents. In fact, it risks embalming our current economy – defined by low-skilled, low-paid, and unrewarding work – for longer than would otherwise be the case.

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Equality in Historical Context (Renewal 2, Summer 2017)

June 1, 2017

Equality has long been a unifying rallying cry for the Left. But a series of important shifts in our economy, culture and society since 1945 demand new political strategies. In particular, deindustrialisation and the decline of deference are shifts that the left must take into account when developing policy. 

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Hard Bargains. A review of Anthony Atkinson, Inequality: What Can be Done? (Renewal 2, Summer 2017)

June 1, 2017

Anthony (Tony) Atkinson died in January of this year, leaving behind a rich professional legacy of economic analysis, particularly in the study of inequality and poverty. His final book, Inequality: What Can Be Done?, is a masterful summation of a life’s work on distributional issues, setting out a compelling case for reducing economic inequality from its current high levels and an economically credible path towards achieving that objective. At the heart of the book is a detailed set of costed policy proposals which, taken together, would amount to an egalitarian change of direction in almost every advanced indus-trial democracy, and would certainly constitute a fundamental rupture in the current direction of British public life. Atkinson’s proposals include relatively familiar elements such as more progressive income tax rates; the state acting as the employer of last resort; greater taxation of capital, especially inherited wealth and gifts inter vivos; a high universal child benefit; and a renewal of the social insurance components of the welfare state. 

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Voices from the movement: What can the Trade Union Act (2016) tell us about trade union organising? (Renewal 2, Summer 2017)

June 1, 2017

It is easy to think of the Trade Union Act (2016) as ‘Thatcher Round 2’: the economic strategy of austerity once again pits the haves against the have-nots, creating the potential for a re-invigorated trade union movement to return to its economically disruptive habits, which the government seeks to constrict. Thus, TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady condemned the Conservatives for ‘refighting the battles of the 1980s’ instead of taking a more constructive approach (O’Grady, 2016).

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The Party has a Life of its Own: Labour’s Doctrine and Ethos (Renewal 2, Summer 2017)

June 1, 2017

To understand the sources of division within the Labour party, we need to understand the importance of ‘ethos’ as well as of doctrine, ideology, or policy. In fact, the party is more divided by ethos than it is by doctrine. Many on both ‘left’ and ‘right’ of the party want doctrinal renewal. Such renewal, focused on ideas like community organising, offers many potential ways to bridge these divides in ‘ethos’.

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Platform Socialism? A review of Axel Honneth, The Idea of Socialism (Renewal 2, Summer 2017)

June 1, 2017

Reviewed book: Axel Honneth, The Idea of Socialism: Towards a Renewal, trans. J. Ganahl, Cambridge: Polity, 2017.

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Editorial: inequality and left politics (Renewal 2, Summer 2017)

June 1, 2017

Inequality is one of the most pressing issues of our time. It has long been the Labour Party’s lodestar. We need to take a clear-eyed look at its causes and consequences in the twenty-first century in order to put together coalitions and policies to tackle it effectively. The challenges are great, but there are new analyses and ideas on the left that should give us hope. 

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The Five Key Facts the Left Needs to Know about Inequality (Renewal 2, Summer 2017)

June 1, 2017

Income inequality may soon start to fall, but this isn’t a cause for great optimism. Inequality is at far higher levels in Britain than other large European countries, with hugely damaging effects for society and quality of life, as well as for politics: high inequality tends to go along with political disengagement and high levels of far-right voting. 

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Where Next for Progressive Politics: Reframing the Fight for Inequality (Renewal 2, Summer 2017)

June 1, 2017

The left has traditionally viewed the fight against inequality through the lens of the poorest in our society. But the stagnating real incomes of those in the middle of the income spectrum means we need to reframe it as a majoritarian issue, and tackle it with a comprehensive plan that attacks inequality from different angles. 

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The Shifting Politics of Inequality and the Class Ceiling (Renewal 2, Summer 2017)

June 1, 2017

Britain’s class landscape has changed: it is more polarised at the extremes and messier in the middle. The distinction between middle and working class is less clear-cut. The elite is able to set political agendas and entrench their own privilege. The left needs a clear narrative showing how privilege leads to gross unfairness – and effective policies to tackle the ‘class ceiling’ so entrenched in our society.

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Climate Change is a Class Issue (Renewal 2, Summer 2017)

June 1, 2017

Climate change will only break out of its eco bubble if we understand not only the impacts, but also the opportunities that tackling it effectively can open up for greater economic and social justice.

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French Socialism in crisis: The undoing of Hollande’s ‘anti-austerity’ programme (Renewal 1, Spring 2017)

March 1, 2017

With the failure of President Hollande’s anti-austerity programme and promise of ‘le changement’, ahead of this year’s elections in France, the Parti Socialiste finds itself severely weakened and perhaps even at breaking point.

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On taking (back) control: lessons from Community Action in 1970s Britain (Renewal 1, Spring 2017)

March 1, 2017

Community action transformed British politics in the 1960s and 1970s. Its successes suggest how a radically reformed social democracy – more participatory and flexible – might have been crafted out of the troubled Keynesian, corporatist model of the 1970s. We should not be nostalgic for the social democratic settlement of the postwar years; but we can learn from the ways that community activists wanted to transform it.

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Populism and grassroots politics: ‘New Left’ critiques of social democracy, 1968-1994 (Renewal 1, Spring 2017)

March 1, 2017

The new social movements of the New Left that transformed British politics from the late 1960s onwards are an important source of inspiration for the Labour party today. But we cannot simply go ‘back to the 70s’. Understanding the history of grassroots progressive activism – its strengths, weaknesses and stumbling blocks – can help us craft a renewed vision for Labour. 

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The NHS: not back to Era 1 but forward to Era 3 – policy challenges for Labour (Renewal 1, Spring 2017)

March 1, 2017

Labour is the creator and defender of the NHS. But the party should not be aiming to return the NHS to ‘Era 1’. Rather, we need to have a coherent plan for how to get healthcare from Era 2 into Era 3 – to a state that addresses the service’s current problems and is appropriate to the kind of culture and society we now live in. Don Berwick’s ideas, if translated properly, offer ways to do this.

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Owen Smith and Blue Labour’s Republicanism (Renewal 1, Spring 2017)

March 1, 2017

During the leadership contest, Owen Smith began to sketch out a new form of ‘Blue Labour’ vision for Labour – republican, federalist, not overly socially conservative, opposed to concentrations of wealth and power, and launching a patriotic assault on inequality. This vision holds out the prospect of reconnecting with some of Labour’s lost voters. The party would do well to build on it. 

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Polanyi against the whirlwind (Renewal 1, Spring 2017)

March 1, 2017

The left must quickly recover the capacity to offer a radically different political economy or reap the consequences.

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Syria: A Betrayal of Labour’s Internationalism and Solidarity (Renewal 1, Spring 2017)

March 1, 2017

For too long the Labour Party has failed Syria. But there are policy measures that Labour could promote which would contribute to a just peace in the country.

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The European left after Brexit (Renewal 1, Spring 2017)

March 1, 2017

Like that of Britain as a whole, Labour’s debate on Brexit has been strikingly insular. It has not recognised the impact of Brexit on European sister-parties, is not inter-ested in the nature of our neighbours’ varying commitments to the European project, and has consequently not even begun to reckon with likely responses to British negotiating positions. As we argued in our previous editorial, this represents a missed opportunity to resist the gathering forces of right-wing nationalism and steal a march on the farcical diplomacy of the Conservatives. Renewal has since sought to open a dialogue with younger left thinkers and activists from across the continent, regarding the future of Europe and Britain’s place within it. This is very much a work in progress.

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Who’s ‘Normal’? Class, Culture and Labour Politics in a Fragmented Britain (Renewal 1, Spring 2017)

March 1, 2017

In political discourse in recent decades, class has been repositioned as an essentially cultural historical phenomenon rather than a dynamic, lived reality connected to the changing temporalities of British capitalism. This is visible in SNP rhetoric as well as in Labour’s current ‘culture wars’. But Labour must reconnect with an economic analysis of class, for it is this that could in fact reunite the culturally polarised elements of a Labour electoral coalition.

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Strength in Division: Left-Right Antagonism and the Practice of ‘Split Leadership’ (Renewal 4, Autumn / Winter 2016)

December 1, 2016

Machiavelli’s insight is one that the Labour Party, in the midst of its current travails, would do well to remember. The history of the Labour Party is also one of antagon-ism between opposed forces. Simplifying somewhat, we can see the recent implosion as a recurrence of a tension that has structured the history of the party from its inception. This tension plays out between a Left that is focused on Labour as a transformative social movement, and a Right that is focused on the acquisition of parliamentary power (with plenty of folk in between). 

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Reorganising Labour: Constructing a New Politics (Renewal 4, Autumn / Winter 2016)

December 1, 2016

Corbyn has put deepening democracy within Labour at the heart of his project. But party re-organisation is never merely about process and structure. It is always about party culture and identity. Recognising this, and interrogating how ‘democracy’ within the party and within Britain as a whole should work, will be vital to making party reorganisation a success.

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Review of Militant by Michael Crick – lessons for Labour today? (Renewal 4, Autumn / Winter 2016)

December 1, 2016

In August 2015, days before Jeremy Corbyn was elected Labour leader, journalist Michael Crick argued that claims of large-scale hard-left entrism into the Labour Party were wide of the mark.1 Yet a few months later, Crick’s 1984 study of Militant, the clandestine Trotskyite organisation that successfully infiltrated the Labour Party in the 1980s, was updated and back on sale in British bookshops, emblazoned with a one-line review by Labour’s deputy leader Tom Watson: ‘A must-read for Labour activists’. What is behind Watson’s avid endorsement?

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Gender and the Labour Party in Historical Perspective: Review of Alice in Westminster by Rachel Reeves (Renewal 4, Autumn / Winter 2016)

December 1, 2016

In Attlee’s landslide victory of 1945, 24 women were elected as MPs. Of these, 21 were Labour Party MPs; fifteen of the women were new to the House of Commons. One of these newcomers was Alice Bacon, elected to Leeds North East with a swing of 22 per cent from the incumbent Conservative. Leeds underwent various boundary changes after 1945, but until 2010, when Rachel Reeves was elected to Leeds West, Alice Bacon was the only woman ever to represent a Leeds constituency. In introducing this biography, Reeves describes her interest in her predecessor, and poses some questions about Alice’s political and personal life: what did her family, her constituents, and the Labour Party think about Alice’s political aspirations and her long and successful career? How did she juggle political life with her personal life, and how did her gender affect her political approach and experience? 

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Review of The Alternative, edited by Lisa Nandy, Caroline Lucas and Chris Bowers – how realistic is the alternative? (Renewal 4, Autumn / Winter 2016)

December 1, 2016

Doctrine doesn’t win elections – resonant stories do.  Carys Afoko’s point, in the concluding chapter to this book, shouldn’t be surprising.  It wasn’t Chicago School economic models which worked well on the doorstep in 1979.  It’s not some wholesale popular conversion to this or that model of civic nationalism which accounts for the SNP’s recent joys.  It’s not Nigel Farage’s preferred philosophical framework (or whatever) which swung the EU referendum. The midwives of each of these successes are narratives that somehow won out.  A coherent enough story, hooking up and chiming enough with what enough people had enough reason to be thinking.  Simple stories can make for bad denouements, sometimes because of their simplicity – the Brexit vote may become a kind of mascot for this point.  Even so, they’re needed to get things moving.

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Labour can overcome its immigration problem (Renewal 4, Autumn / Winter 2016)

December 1, 2016

Immigration is the top issue of public concern – and Labour must win back confidence if it is to form the next government. The UK immigration system is flawed, but has significant strengths – most of which were introduced by Labour governments. Labour must build on this heritage to develop a socialist immigration policy. To do so, we must discuss immigration and citizenship together.

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Smallism: an approach for our time (Renewal 4, Autumn / Winter 2016)

December 1, 2016

It has been a long time coming, but in the summer of 2016 British politics – perhaps even Anglo-Saxon politics – entered a new phase. The referendum on leaving the European Union and Donald Trump’s ascendancy in the US presidential race have created a world in which certain types of facts no longer matter. These are the sorts of facts produced by experts: the economists, civil servants and academics whose views have defined public debate for several generations.

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After 2016 (Renewal 4, Autumn / Winter 2016)

December 1, 2016

It is rare to live through a year and to know, with some degree of certainty, that it will be a marker in scholarship and memory for generations. Rarer still, perhaps, to know this while also doubting whether coherent and truthful public reflection on politics will be possible for much longer. 

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Reforming the banks – the opportunity of Brexit (Renewal 4, Autumn / Winter 2016)

December 1, 2016

Brexit offers an unexpected opportunity: to use the taxpayer’s stake in RBS to begin to transform our banking sector into a locally-based, locally-focused system that works for small and medium-sized businesses in the real economy.

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Leaving Party: Theresa May’s Tories and Europe (Renewal 4, Autumn / Winter 2016)

December 1, 2016

The Conservative Party is now profoundly divided ideologically, into ‘hyperglobalisers’ and the more mercantilist pragmatists. Theresa May enjoyed a unique window of power when she first became PM to fashion a clear vision of the form of Brexit that 
‘reluctant’ Tory Remainers like herself would favour. But May chose ‘safety first’, trying to balance the Remain and Leave camps in her party, while focusing on wiping out UKIP as a threat to the Tory vote.

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Caught in the Headlights: Labour, Race and the Referendum (Renewal 4, Autumn / Winter 2016)

December 1, 2016

23 June 2016: the EU referendum result is one of those moments that will be forever etched in my memory. Like the death of Princess Diana, it is a marker in time. I was working for Stronger In, the official Remain campaign, when the result came through. The rejection felt personal. It was a rollercoaster ride. The Leave campaign won, by the slightest of margins, but with a stench of toxicity that was more keenly felt if one was off-white like me. 

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Basic income: a debate (Renewal 4, Autumn / Winter 2016)

December 1, 2016

Many see it as a ‘silver bullet’ policy innovation: the RSA is behind it, as is Compass, and support also comes from the Adam Smith Institute and Silicone Valley tech-utopians. Neal Lawson and Mat Lawrence debate Basic Income in theory and practice. 

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Morality and left-wing politics: a case study of Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party (Renewal 3, Autumn 2016)

September 1, 2016

Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour leadership campaign was based on his moral authority, in turn said to be the key to renewing the party’s appeal in its traditional heartlands. But latest research on the psychological basis of morality, and its relationship to political views, suggests this was always misguided.

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Movement politics, the electoral machine, and the ‘masses’: lessons from the early Labour Party (Renewal 3, Autumn 2016)

September 1, 2016

There is nothing new about the problem of reconciling the idea of the left as a radical movement enacting new ways of living, and the idea of the left as a vote-winning machine, aiming to take power and enact gradual social reform. Labour needs to learn, now, from the ways in which that difficult balance was delicately achieved in the party’s early years. And activists must heed another warning from history made doubly relevant by the fall-out from the referendum: to have disdain for ‘the masses’ will always be fatal for our political project.

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Speaking to England (Renewal 3, Autumn 2016)

September 1, 2016

Englishness is a difficult subject for the Labour Party. Tom Barker reports on the ‘England and Labour’ seminars, Westminster and Huddersfield, February–April 2016, and the debates held over English identity, constitutional change and Labour Party organisation. Englishness doesn’t have to be bad for Labour, but the party must speak to rather than for England.

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Universal Credit, Ideology and the Politics of Poverty (Renewal 3, Autumn 2016)

September 1, 2016

Universal Credit was the centrepiece of Iain Duncan Smith’s reforms at the Department for Work and Pensions between 2010 and 2016. It has been widely criticized and its delivery beset by problems. To understand the policy, though, and how it might be reformed by a left-wing government, we must understand the Thatcherite thinking that shaped it.

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Feminist Resistance (Renewal 3, Autumn 2016)

September 1, 2016

The feminist movement is sometimes criticised as too middle class or too individualistic in orientation. None of these criticisms is fair. Feminist organising has important lessons for the left, showing how resistance to structural, cultural and economic gendered inequalities can be constructed in new and creative ways.

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Labour and the national question after Brexit (Renewal 4, Autumn / Winter 2016)

September 1, 2016

Labour’s electoral base has been torn apart by identity politics. Yet the leadership election over the summer showed a party unwilling to debate issues of national identity. Labour must face up to these questions, and to the fact that Labour will almost certainly have to win a majority in England if the party is to take power at Westminster again. 

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The present crisis and the questions we must ask (Renewal 3, Autumn 2016)

September 1, 2016

One of the most surprising things about the success of the Leave campaign is that so many are surprised by it. Could we really have expected any other result – after forty years of misrepresentation of the EU by politicians and media alike, and in the midst of a calculated intensification of hostility towards immigrants? Thirty years after the abandonment of coal, steel and fishing industries and communities – eight years into a brutal and unnecessary regime of fiscal austerity imposed to save the banks – we may be shocked but there are no grounds to be surprised by the size and intensity of public mistrust of politics and rejection of the status quo. A post-referendum review of the polls conducted during the campaign suggests that in fact Leave was always ahead. Of course it was.

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What is economic trust in politics? (Renewal 3, Autumn 2016)

September 1, 2016

Economic trust is key to election victories in Britain. But what does it mean, and how can Labour win it back? Three things are key to a successful strategy: telling an optimistic story about creating a more equal society with more opportunity for all, tackling the question of immigration, and owning the future, rather than harking back to a disappeared world.

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A new politics? The challenges of multi-speed party membership (Renewal 3, Autumn 2016)

September 1, 2016

Opening up leader selection to non-member supporters is a growing trend among political parties. Qualitative research on Labour’s new grassroots suggests that efforts to convert a larger selectorate into an organised activist base need to appreciate the full range of motivations for partisan commitment.

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Review of The Blair Supremacy: A study in the politics of Labour’s party management, by Lewis Minkin (Renewal 3, Autumn 2016)

September 1, 2016

Lewis Minkin’s research into New Labour’s party management offers indispensable lessons for those concerned with the party’s current managerial problems, showing the limits to the ‘Blair supremacy’ and its long-term effects in alienating some party members. A managerial philosophy and strategy which places less emphasis on obedience to the majority will and more on consultation, minority rights and the patient resolution of differences is the route to reuniting the party now.

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Silencing the critics: charities, lobbyists, and the government’s quiet war on dissent (Renewal 3, Autumn 2016)

September 1, 2016

For six years the Conservatives have been waging a covert war against institutions and organisations capable of holding the government to account, masked by rhetoric lauding their efforts to restrain lobbyists. In the process, they are undermining the very basis for social democratic politics. Charities, as well as academics and trade unions, need to be able to undertake lobbying and campaigning activities, and wealthy organisations must not be permitted to dominate the process of political decision-making.

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Anti-politics and the left (Renewal 2, Summer 2016)

June 1, 2016

Anti-politics is on the rise in contemporary Britain, and poses challenges – but also opportunities – for the left. New research suggests that participatory democracy isn’t the answer, but that Labour could think about changing recruitment, constitutional reform, progressive alliances, and new forms and styles of communication with the electorate.

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The new partisanship (Renewal 2, Summer 2016)

June 1, 2016

The re-emergence of the party as a site of mobilisation invites a broader interpretation of partisanship. A party is not just a collective that aims to win electoral power, but one that does so as part of a principled, long-term project.

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Hard left, soft left: Corbynism and beyond (Renewal 2, Summer 2016)

June 1, 2016

One of Renewal’s original editors examines the role of the soft left in the 1980s and asks what a soft left revival today might look like.

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Place-based health: why local accountability would lead to better quality and outcomes (Renewal 2, Summer 2016)

June 1, 2016

The NHS is one of our most treasured national institutions. But it is nearly broken. Only localism and the integration of clinical medicine, public health and social care can update Bevan’s settlement for the twenty-first century.

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Shaping a new deal for coastal communities (Renewal 2, Summer 2016)

June 1, 2016

The ‘Blue New Deal’ developed by the New Economics Foundation (NEF) offers a new model for sustainable development in coastal communities.

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Interview: On being a public intellectual, a Muslim and a multiculturalist (Renewal 2, Summer 2016)

June 1, 2016

Tariq Modood interviewed by Simon Thompson.

Multiculturalism is often criticised and misunderstood. But it still delivers better results than any alternative that’s been tried. Tariq Modood discusses empathy and commitment in academic life, and outlines a critically evolving multiculturalism.

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Editorial: Party, place and politics (Renewal 2, Summer 2016)

June 1, 2016

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Responses to ‘Anti-Politics and the left’ (Renewal 2, Summer 2016)

June 1, 2016

Response: Defending Political Democracy
Gavin Shuker MP

Response: Beyond anti-politics through democratic innovation
Oliver Escobar

Response: The limits of representation
Andrew Gamble

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Momentum: a new kind of politics (Renewal 2, Summer 2016)

June 1, 2016

Momentum’s three national organisers set out their vision for Momentum: organisation building, movement politics, and changing society.

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Community wealth building: America’s emerging asset-based approach to city economic development (Renewal 2, Summer 2016)

June 1, 2016

Across the United States a growing number of communities are experimenting with innovative ways to create a more equal, democratic, and community based economy from the ground up.

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The road to socialist is the A59: The Preston model (Renewal 2, Summer 2016)

June 1, 2016

Martin O’Neill speaks to Councillor Matthew Brown about Community Wealth-Building and Alternative Economic Strategies in Preston.

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Editorial: Reorienting the left (Renewal 1, Spring 2016)

March 1, 2016

Labour, and the left, are in a mess, and there are no easy answers. Recognising this is a precondition for the renewal we need. Under our editorship, Renewal will interrogate the structures and contexts for a viable left politics, unearthing new ideas and initiatives that demonstrate the necessity and potential of a social democratic revival.

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A better politics – a more enlightened economics (Renewal 1, Spring 2016)

March 1, 2016

We know what makes people happier. Living in a country with higher levels of well-organised collective spending on health, social insurance and employment protection produces a happier population. In his new book A Better Politics, Danny Dorling asks what policies emerge when we take happiness as the priority for politics and economics. 

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The Osborne Supremacy: the unfolding Conservative hegemonic project and the left’s response (Renewal 1, Spring 2016)

March 1, 2016

Ken Spours, author of The Osborne supremacy: why progressives have to develop a hegemonic politics for the 21st century, debates the possibilities for such a hegemonic strategy with Patrick Diamond, co-author with Giles Radice of Can Labour win? The hard road to power. 

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The Labour Party under Ed Miliband: trying but failing to renew social democracy (Renewal 1, Spring 2016)

March 1, 2016

Ed Miliband had a serious diagnosis of the reforms needed to build a better society. Yet a series of compromises with forces within and outside the party watered down his overall narrative.

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Labour and the New Englishness (Renewal 1, Spring 2016)

March 1, 2016

Labour needs to find a way of connecting the complex politics of English identity politics to some of the knotty constitutional issues we face.

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What is the significance of the Paris Agreement? (Renewal 1, Spring 2016)

March 1, 2016

The Paris Agreement represents major progress in the struggle against climate change – but Conservative government policy is making fulfilment of the UK’s obligations increasingly unlikely. Labour councils and activists, alongside business and civil society, have a major role to play in compensating for Tory inaction.

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Against fantasy citizenship: the politics of migration and austerity (Renewal 1, Spring 2016)

March 1, 2016

Crises of debt and migration are being felt across the European Union, including in Britain. Right- wing politics has prospered in this environment by developing rhetorics of exclusion. These rely on a fantasy of equal national citizenship that obscures the state’s role in regulating access to labour and welfare regimes.

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Are we all entrepreneurs now? (Renewal 1, Spring 2016)

March 1, 2016

A consideration of the origin and significance in modern Britain of the figure of the ‘entrepreneur’, who has long enjoyed a privileged place in the ideological armoury of neoliberal capitalism, both as a heroic leader, and as a model for ordinary workers under flexibilised regimes of labour.

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Review (Renewal 1, Spring 2016)

March 1, 2016

The Predistribution Agenda: Tackling Inequality and Supporting Sustainable Growth

Claudia Chwalisz and Patrick Diamond Policy Network/IB Tauris 2015

Reviewed by Stewart Wood 

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Labour’s ideology: towards common ground (Renewal 23.4, Winter 2015)

December 1, 2015

Noisiness in political debate can be a virtue and a vice. Jeremy Corbyn’s incredible victory in the Labour leadership contest is testament to this: from one point of view he has shown the sheer mobilising power of a clear, polemical ideological vision, even when articulated in an unassuming, modest style. The electoral failure of the main body of the Parliamentary Labour Party was in large measure a failure to counter Corbyn’s appeal with an equivalently bold and non-technocratic set of political arguments capable of energising Labour members and supporters. But such intoxicating visions can also mislead, and drag parties and movements into fruitlessly relearning lessons that ought to have been internalised long ago. This at any rate has been the main concern voiced by Corbyn’s opponents in the debate over Labour’s current electoral strategy and tactics; but a parallel argument can be mounted in relation to the debate over Labour’s ideological orientation, a topic that deserves greater attention than it has so far received in the wake of the 2015 general election.

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Bring back the Institute for Workers’ Control (Renewal 23.4, Winter 2015)

December 1, 2015

McKenzie Wark, in Molecular Red, his recent book on theory for the Anthropocene, argues that we need new ancestors for our next civilisation. It’s an arresting suggestion, and one that stems from willed optimism in the face of mounting difficulties. The book opens with a parched vision of the Aral Sea in what used to be Soviet Central Asia, a stark signifier of our cataclysmic present. Its feeder river the Amu Darya diverted by Soviet engineers to irrigate a vast basin of mechanised cotton production following the Second World War, the Aral Sea has all but dried up, shrunk to a tenth of its former size, its fishing fleet grounded, one of the world’s worst environmental disasters, a man-made desert and monument to the Promethean productivity of industrial agriculture. […]

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Mondragon in five points (Renewal 23.4, Winter 2015)

December 1, 2015

Thinkers and politicians from across the political spectrum have proposed to realise a ‘Property-Owning Democracy’. Right-wing politicians like Margaret Thatcher (or more recently David Cameron) have a narrow conception of Property-Owning Democracy, simply involving less regulation of property and some access to minimal property (like a little house) for everyone. More left-wing thinkers, like the Nobel Prize winning economist James Meade (1964; see also O’Neill (2015)) or the philosopher John Rawls (2001), two of the most important supporters of such a system, have a more radical understanding of it. They argue for a society in which income, but also financial and human capital, would be more fairly distributed and inequalities greatly reduced. This would help to secure political equality, equality of opportunity, and provide everyone with the real means to pursue their goals. Realising such a society might require what Ed Miliband proposed in the UK 2015 general election under the catchword ‘predistribution’: actually helping people to buy houses, helping workers get stronger negotiating power, investing in early childhood education, and so on. But as Meade and more recently Martin O’Neill and Thad Williamson (2012b) or Thomas Piketty (2014) have underlined, this may also require exploring alternative property structures for firms, giving workers the opportunity to have a share in productive property.

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Labour and the pursuit of democracy (Renewal 23.4, Autumn 2015)

December 1, 2015

In Britain and Australia, Labour is on the backfoot. Under Ed Miliband’s leadership, British Labour tried to rebuild its policy agenda under the ‘One Nation’ label which simultaneously recognised but distanced itself from New Labour. In Australia, the fall of the Rudd-Gillard Governments (2007-2013) has led to further questioning about the Australian Labor Party’s (ALP) identity crisis. At the state level in Australia, from a high-point in the mid-2000s when the ALP held office in every Australian state and territory, the sole Labor State government is now based in South Australia (1). In both countries, there is an ongoing debate about how Labour can adapt and renew in these post neo-liberal times.

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Socialism through the lens of Alasdair MacIntyre (Renewal 23.4, Autumn 2015)

December 1, 2015

British socialism can, of course, be understood in a myriad of ways. One standard debate has been to contrast an emphasis on nationalisation and economic issues (one represented by the party’s 1918 Clause IV commitment) with a belief in equality. For some commentators, equality is the essence of socialism: Labour’s chief goal is to remove unjustifiable large inequalities in society; as such the party’s vision is dominated by one of an egalitarian society and socialist policies are justified by reference to a norm of fairness (Shaw, 2007, 21). In the decades since 1945, much less attention has been given within Labour to moral considerations.

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Corbyn, Sanders, and a transatlantic left (Renewal 23.4, Autumn 2015)

December 1, 2015

A fashionable way of understanding the contemporary left in the United States and Britain is to see them as a pair, rising and falling together. On this view, the election of Jeremy Corbyn as the Labour Party’s leader and Bernie Sanders’s recent surge in poll numbers are simply the latest in a series of developments that span the Atlantic. Reagan and Thatcher, Clinton and Blair, Sanders and Corbyn. The special relationship extends beyond diplomacy; it now comprises a common political fate, though the exact reasons for the symmetry have never been clearly stated.

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The democratic critique of neo-liberalism (Renewal 23.3, Autumn 2015)

November 1, 2015

Undoing the Demos: Neo-Liberalism’s Stealth Revolution
Wendy Brown, ZONE BOOKS, 2015

Since university tuition fees were first introduced in the UK by the Blair government in 1998, there has been an on-going debate as to whether the policy is more or less equitable than a graduate tax. The debate provided Gordon Brown’s camp with an opportunity to throw the occasional rock at Blairites throughout the early 2000s, and Ed Miliband (formerly of said camp) was still proposing a graduate tax when he became leader in 2010. Now that the original £1,000 annual fees have risen to a maximum £9,000, the capacity of a graduate tax to fund higher education without saddling graduates with vast debts looks more compelling than ever. Yet Miliband fought the 2015 election promising only to reduce the cap on fees, to a maximum of £6,000.

What’s interesting about how this debate played out was the philosophical schism it revealed in the centre-left. Both sides had good reason to claim theirs was the more progressive policy. The argument in favour of tuition fees rested on two crucial claims. Firstly, that higher education creates economic benefits that accrue largely to the individual graduate. State funding of universities is therefore a regressive policy, in which society (including those on low incomes) pays for the middle classes to entrench their advantages. Secondly, tuition fees could be waived for those on low incomes, as indeed they have been. Meanwhile, graduates have to reach a certain income threshold before they start paying off their debts. Put these claims together, and tuition fees look not only fair, but positively redistributive.

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Factionalism in the Labour leadership contest (Renewal 23.3, Autumn 2015)

August 1, 2015

What do nominations for the posts of Labour leader and deputy leader tell us about the state of the party? Do they suggest the existence of different ideological and political groupings within Labour? Or is there a more general and diffuse distribution to endorsements? Under the Collins reforms to the party’s structure, voted on and passed by a special conference in March 2014, those wishing to be candidates for either leadership post need to be publicly nominated by 15 per cent of Labour Members of Parliament (MPs) in the House of Commons (Collins, 2014). Any viable contender for the post needed to mobilise sufficient support to meet that threshold. In the case of the two 2015 contests, with a Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) of 232 MPs, the threshold was 35. By the time nominations closed for the leadership at 12.00 noon on Monday 15 June 2015, four candidates had made the final ballot: Andy Burnham, Yvette Cooper, Jeremy Corbyn, and Liz Kendall. When nominations closed two days later for the deputy leadership, five aspirants had made it: Ben Bradshaw, Stella Creasy, Angela Eagle, Caroline Flint, and Tom Watson.

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Roundtable: After Miliband (Renewal 23.3, Autumn 2015)

August 1, 2015

Taking the full measure of the 2015 British general election result, and its implications for the politics of the left, will be a lengthy and difficult process. Renewal presents here some initial reflections on the campaign, the result, Ed Miliband’s leadership, and Labour’s future direction. The articles are based on talks delivered at a conference organised by the Political Studies Association Labour Movements Group at University College, Oxford on 5 June 2015.

Not a social democratic moment
Ivor Crewe, Master of University College, Oxford

An intense collision with the electorate
Jon Cruddas, Labour MP for Dagenham and Rainham

Fundamental questions
Marc Stears, Professor of Political Theory at Oxford University
and formerly chief speech-writer for Ed Miliband

Ed Miliband and the end of neo-liberalism
Gregg McClymont, formerly Labour MP for Cumbernauld,
Kilsyth and Kirkintilloch East, 2010-15

The spirit of ’97
Emily Robinson, Lecturer in Politics at Sussex University

 

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Why equality matters (Renewal 23.3, Autumn 2015)

August 1, 2015

‘Whatever is my right as a man is also the right of another; and it becomes my duty to guarantee as well as to possess.’ Tom Paine, Rights of Man, 1791

Labour’s devastating electoral defeat reveals that social democracy remains in crisis. The hope that economic crisis had changed politics has so far proven misplaced. Instead, flawed and limited neo-liberal assumptions about equality, freedom and power are more entrenched than ever. This is to be witnessed in Osborne’s frighteningly assured shrinking of the state. Yet, neo-liberalism is still not properly understood and, in its disarray, social democracy is struggling to mount a coherent response.

In the twentieth century, the New Deal and Attlee Labour Government succeeded by uniting progressive liberalism and social democracy around the ideal of a more equal society. Socialism was almost completely absent in the US. Despite its disproportionate totemic significance, Labour success owed little to clause IV. Rather, reformers convinced the public that they had the solutions to depression and the aftermath of war. Similarly, domestically at least, the Democratic Party and Labour Party in the 1960s briefly connected social and cultural change to the politics of hope.

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Rediscovering Rosa Luxemburg (Renewal 23.3, Autumn 2015)

August 1, 2015

‘I was, I am, I shall be!’

Rosa Luxemburg, ‘Order reigns in Berlin’, 1919. Her last written words.

Rosa Luxemburg’s name lives on among left-wingers – but while she is remembered as a hero, her ideas about the intrinsic unsustainability of capitalism have been consistently misunderstood and neglected. This has begun to change recently, with reappraisals of her thought seeing her as a forerunner of contemporary understandings of the role of credit in economic growth. This renewed understanding of her ideas makes her highly relevant to current debates about the role of credit in the financial crash of 2008 and ongoing stagnation which has followed in its wake. But these reappraisals can go further. So far they have focused on showing how, according to Luxemburg’s ideas, credit is required in order to make growth possible; what they have not focused on is how her ideas show that such growth cannot go on forever.

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A shortage of optimism (Renewal 23.1,2, Spring / Summer 2015)

March 1, 2015

Neither main party has a path to a stable parliamentary majority.

The article deals first with the fortunes of the Labour Party, and by extension the parties as a whole, during the period since the 2010 election, noting the relatively gradual changes that have taken place during the parliament leading to a surprisingly radical reconfiguration of the party system and the strategic opportunities for Labour and the other parties. It is unlikely that parties can form stable coalitions of support sufficient to win majorities of the sort that underpinned the Thatcher and Blair eras, and therefore probable that the politics of the 1970s – small majorities, frequent changes of government and heavy external constraints on policy – are more relevant to the current situation than the period between the consolidation of Thatcherism in 1982 and the financial crisis of 2008.

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Route-masters (Renewal 23.1,2, Spring / Summer 2015)

March 1, 2015

North East Combined Authority’s resolution in favour of re-regulation of local bus services offers a better deal for passengers and taxpayers. The consequences could have significant implications for the future of public services.

On 21 October 2014 the North East Combined Authority (NECA), representing the seven local authorities in the North East, unanimously resolved to press ahead with plans to give taxpayers a better deal from their local bus services (North East Combined Authority, 2014). The commitment by the NECA to pursue plans to re-regulate the industry through the proposed introduction of a London-style Quality Contract Scheme (QCS) represented a significant success for my four-year campaign for better bus services in the North East. I want to maintain the political momentum for the campaign ahead of the next step in the process – assessment of the proposals by an independent QCS board scheduled for next spring. We finally have a chance to bring about positive change in the provision of bus services in the North East – change that could have wider and lasting implications for industry across the entire country, and I am determined to see that objective achieved.

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Principles, not mechanisms: Interview with Lisa Nandy MP (Renewal 23.1,2, Spring / Summer 2015)

March 1, 2015

Since her election as MP for Wigan in 2010, Lisa Nandy has become a prominent advocate for an emerging strain of pluralist, communitarian Labour politics. Alongside recent contributions on feminism and public service reform (Nandy, 2014a, Nandy, 2014b), Nandy has made a lengthy and distinctive intervention into the party’s ongoing debate on policies and values in her 2014 Compass Lecture (Nandy, 2014c). This tried to reclaim the idea of ‘freedom’ from the neo-liberal right, via appeals to the republican political theory of Quentin Skinner and Phillip Pettit. As Shadow Minister for Civil Society, Nandy has had considerable scope to put some of this thinking into practice as one of Labour’s key advocates for social and political reform. James Stafford met Nandy at Westminster at the start of the year, to discuss Labour’s developing agenda and prospects for government in 2015.

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Labours new identity politics (Renewal 23.1,2, Spring / Summer 2015)

March 1, 2015

One Nation: Labour’s Political Renewal
Jon Cruddas and Jonathan Rutherford
ONE NATION REGISTER, 2014

Our Labour, Our Communities
Edited by Lisa Nandy
LABOURLIST, 2014

Laying the Foundations for a Labour Century
Edited by John Woodcock and Liz Kendall
POLICY NETWORK, 2014

Political parties are, it goes without saying, formed out of agreement between members. But to be really successful the extent and intensity of that agreement has to be just right. Too much and a party will have limited appeal; it will be cult-like, brittle and prone to splitting. Too little and a party will attract self-promoting people and pet causes, making things fractious and difficult to manage. 

 

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Inequality and what to do about it: Interview with Thomas Piketty (Renewal 21.2,3, Autumn / Winter 2014)

September 1, 2014

Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century (Piketty, 2014) is the most talked about work of political economy to have appeared in recent years, if not decades. Since its publication in French last year (Piketty, 2013), and the subsequent publication, earlier this year, of its limpid translation into English by Arthur Goldhammer (Piketty, 2014), Piketty’s book has received critical acclaim worldwide. Paul Krugman has described Piketty’s book as ‘magnificent, sweeping meditation on inequality’, which has wrought ‘a revolution in our understanding of long-term trends’ (Krugman, 2014). Branko Milanovic, former lead economist of the World Bank, describes Capital in the Twenty-First Century as ‘one of the watershed books in economic thinking’ (Milanovic, 2014), while Jacob Hacker, progenitor of the idea of ‘predistribution’ (see Hacker, Jackson & O’Neill, 2013), has described Piketty as ‘a Tocqueville for today’ (Hacker and Pierson, 2014; see also Paul Segal’s review essay in this issue of Renewal).

Piketty’s book has also begun to shape the way in which parties of the left think about the challenges they now face in creating a more just and equitable economic settlement. Shadow Cabinet member Stewart Wood, one of Ed Miliband’s most thoughtful advisers, has described Piketty’s work as ‘providing an intellectual foundation’ for many of the things that the next Labour government will hope to do in tackling inequality and falling living standards (Eaton and Wood, 2014; see also Pearce, 2014). Although Miliband has joked in interviews that he has read ‘only a few pages’ of Piketty’s Capital, the truth is that, as Miliband himself knows well (see e.g. Miliband, 2011, 2014; Eaton, 2014), social democratic politicians can only hope to triumph in the future if they get to grips with the full implications of Piketty’s meticulous diagnosis of our current malaise of extreme and worsening inequality, and if they are prepared to take political steps to fight inequality that are of a scope and scale to match the daunting dimensions of the problem of inequality itself.

Martin O’Neill of Renewal and Juncture’s Nick Pearce interviewed Professor Piketty on a recent visit to London.

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Modern money and the escape from austerity (Renewal 21.2,3, Autumn / Winter 2014)

September 1, 2014

Modern monetary theory destroys the intellectual basis for austerity but needs a more robust political economy.

On 2 January 1879 the United States returned to the gold standard. Specie payments had been quietly suspended in 1861 to meet the costs of the Civil War, with Congress authorising the issuance of $450 million in ‘greenbacks’ – legal tender treasury notes – that greatly increased commercial liquidity and triggered an economic boom. But with wartime exigencies over, banking interests demanded a return to financial propriety and redeemable hard money. ‘Though the Civil War had been fought with fifty-cent dollars’, historian Lawrence Goodwyn explained, ‘the cost would be paid in one-hundred-cent dollars. The nation’s taxpayers would pay the difference to the banking community holding the bonds’ (Goodwyn, 1978, 11). What followed was one of the most extraordinary and creative episodes in the history of popular democratic understanding of money.

The constriction of the US money supply caused a deflationary spiral; as population and production increased but the availability of money was held constant, prices fell. Farmers were hit particularly hard. The narrow organisation of capital markets around an inflexible gold-based currency meant annual panics during the financial squeeze prompted by the autumn harvest. The brutal crop-lien system delivered increasing numbers over to the furnishing merchants and chattel mortgage companies, as farmers were forced to take on ever more debt that would have to be paid off in an appreciating currency.

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Clement Attlee and the foundations of the British welfare state (Renewal 21.2,3, Autumn / Winter 2014)

September 1, 2014

The early career of Clement Attlee reminds us that the welfare state was never intended to stand alone as a set of institutions. Its stability depends upon a set of ethical, economic, and political foundations.

The name of Clement Attlee is indelibly associated with the great leap forward in the construction of Britain’s welfare state accomplished by the 1945-51 Labour government: the implementation of William Beveridge’s blueprint for National Insurance, a Family Allowance, improved old age pensions, and the National Health Service. For many this moment marks the historic birth of a British welfare consensus whose contours are still clearly recognisable today, even after seventy years of social and economic change, and political controversy that has raged ever since.

As the Labour Party looks to win office in 2015 so that it can build on this legacy, Clement Attlee’s government is still somewhere to go to for inspiration and guid- ance. But our focus here will not be the events of the 1940s. Rather, we argue that to fully understand that breakthrough and what made it possible, and also to gain true historical perspective on the debates and developments of today, we need to dig deeper, beneath the Acts of Parliament and civil service committees, to the social underpinnings of this administrative achievement, and look further back into Attlee’s own life, and his involvement in what we might call the Edwardian pre-his- tory of Britain’s welfare state.

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Independence after the crash (Renewal 22.1,2, Spring / Summer 2014)

June 1, 2014

Here is a useful test that watchers of the debate on Scotland’s independence might want to apply to the competing statements of the contending parties: ‘Could you have said that in 2007, or even 1999’? If the answer is ‘yes’, then the statement might not mean much. The global financial crisis, and its corollary in the eurozone, should by rights have transformed the terms of what is now a decades-long debate on the possibility of Scottish independence. But it is not immediately apparent that they have done so. Activists from both camps paint rosy pictures of possible futures within and without the UK. Scotland’s legion of cultural commentators ruminate on the politics of identity, much as they have done for decades. The Radical Independence Campaign and Common Weal excitedly speculate about deliberative democracy and economic justice. All participants have an interest in reducing the salience of the ‘crises of democratic capitalism’ (Streeck, 2011), since none are seriously dedicated to dispensing with it.

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The left and Scottish nationalism (Renewal 22.1,2, Spring / Summer 2014)

June 1, 2014

Disappointments, defeats and disillusion have been the left’s constant companions for many a year now. The electric shock therapy of Thatcherism followed by the various bitter pills administered by New Labour have led many principled socialists and social democrats to despair about what they see as a secular rightward drift in British politics. Faced with this seemingly gloomy outlook, the thoughts of the left naturally turn to escape routes: how to regain the initiative and recapture the idealism that was once the left’s home territory? An influential section of the left intelligentsia in Scotland, and a significant group of sympathisers elsewhere in the UK, argue that they have found an answer to this dilemma in the shape of Scottish independence. In the face of the wider retreat of the left in Europe and North America, and the local manifestations of this phenomenon in British public life, these advocates of a ‘radical independence’ propose a tactical retreat into the socialist bastion of Scotland in order to keep alive the values threatened by the global march of neo-liberalism.

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Scotlands future – really? (Renewal 22.1,2, Spring / Summer 2014)

June 1, 2014

Scotland’s Future: Your Guide to an Independent Scotland
THE SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT, 2013

If you are in need of a doorstop, look no further. At 675 pages, an inch and a quarter thick, and three pounds in weight, the SNP’s independence manifesto, Scotland’s Future, will do that job admirably. Whether it also meets its stated aim of being ‘Your Guide to an Independent Scotland’ is another matter entirely.

It’s hard to say what kind of beast this baggy monster is. It’s neither a measured government White Paper setting out policy detail, nor a political tract making an impassioned case for independence. Sometimes it describes options open to an independent Scotland, and sometimes (wrongly, for a government document, published at taxpayers’ expense) sets out SNP party policy on which option to choose. The SNP would have been wiser to have a dry civil service document setting out the mechanics of transition to independence, and party publications making the case for separation, and how they would run an independent country. As it stands, the White Paper does none of these well.

Where it does succeed is in showing that, where these different aims conflict, the SNP’s partisan advantage trumps everything else.

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The nationalist interpretation of Scottish history (Renewal 22.1,2, Spring / Summer 2014)

June 1, 2014

The Invisible Spirit: A Life of Post-War Scotland 1945-75
Kenneth Roy
ICS, 2013

For social democrats, the post-war years are usually seen as halcyon days. Across the Western world, including the United Kingdom, societies became healthier, wealthier and more equal. Inequalities were compressed as the dynamism of industrial capitalism was harnessed by the state – both national and local – and by strong trade unions, in the interests of the many not the few. Political parties, while never enjoying a golden age of public approbation, enjoyed mass member- ships. Voter turnout was high. Trust in ‘official’ institutions and in the good intentions of public servants was maintained, although here too there was never a golden age. Political and social democracy co-existed for the first time. The Attlee Government’s promise of a revolution in social security and health-care won it first the votes and then the loyalty of a substantial urbanised and unionised working class employed in an economy characterised by the regionally concen- trated heavy industries that had suffered such brutal punishment during the inter-war period. ‘Never Again’ was the folk memory of the hungry 1930s, to which in the post-war period the working classes and sections of the middle classes subscribed.

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Sweden is better than this (Renewal 21.4, Winter 2013)

February 1, 2014

Everyone knows that it’s not what’s being said about the political issues that matters. It’s what can be said. Yes, politics is about ‘credibility’ and even more so about what is defined as ‘credibility’. Ed Miliband doesn’t look like a Prime Minister. He never will, unless the idea of what a Prime Minister is changes.

Ingvar Carlsson became the Prime Minister of Sweden under the worst possible circumstances. His predecessor, Olof Palme, was shot. On a cold night in February, 1986, at half past nine, walking home with his wife through the streets of Stockholm. We still don’t know who did it. Or why. The theories are as many as there are Swedish crime novels.

Five years later, Ingvar Carlsson, the new leader of the Social Democrats, lost the election. It was 1991 and Sweden was in the middle of a severe financial crisis. During the 1980s, Swedish policy-makers had initiated the deregulation of many markets. Between 1983 and 1990 several deregulations of the financial sector were undertaken, all under social democratic governments. The liberalisation of loan restrictions contributed to a very rapid increase in lending. The country saw an extensive and risky credit expansion, largely concentrated in the real estate sector. In the early 1990s a fully developed banking and financial services bubble burst and between the summers of 1990 and 1993 Sweden suffered three years of negative growth. In these years, public debt doubled, unemploy- ment tripled, and the budget deficit increased tenfold. At the time it was the largest of any OECD country – more than 10 per cent.

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Public policies for private corporations: the British corporate welfare state (Renewal 21.4, Winter 2013)

February 1, 2014

One of the biggest myths of the contemporary political age is that private businesses would be stronger, more competitive, and more profitable, without the state. In reality, private businesses depend extensively on public services and state benefits – in other words, on corporate welfare. Corporate welfare describes public policies that directly or indirectly meet the specific needs and/or preferences of private businesses. Such provi- sion assists corporations through their life-course. It makes possible the birth of corporations and helps to meet their evolving needs from ‘youth’ to maturity. It provides advice and protection and, more generally, socialises the costs and risks associated with private investment and profit-making. It keeps some companies on life-support and assists some companies in their death (Farnsworth, 2013). Despite the tendency to assume that citizens are the primary beneficiaries of public policies and the welfare state, there are very few examples of public policies that do not bring benefits to private busi- nesses. The opposite is also true, of course; many forms of corporate welfare also bring benefits to citizens.

There is a big difference, however, in the way that social and corporate welfare are discussed, scrutinised and delivered. Social welfare is debated constantly. The costs, benefits and impact of provision on individual behaviour is the subject of heavy media and political scrutiny. Provision is based upon legally constituted rights and (relatively) clear procedures. And these rights are underpinned by duties. Corporate welfare is different in almost all respects. Whereas social welfare claimants are pilloried and castigated in the media for their irresponsible behaviour, corporate welfare claimants are often celebrated. Whereas social welfare recipients face increasingly tough conditions when they make a claim on the state, business recipients face few conditions and no real sanctions, even when their actions, for instance, on tax avoidance or lobbying against the welfare state, undermine the very future of public policy. 

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Whos afraid of public ownership? (Renewal 21.4, Winter 2013)

February 1, 2014

Reclaiming Public Ownership: Making Space for Economic Democracy
Andrew Cumbers
ZED BOOKS, 2012

Return of the repressed

Of all the shibboleths of neo-liberalism, the most insistent – and insisted upon – has been the superiority of the private over the public. Never is this more the case than when it comes to the ownership of capital. The wave of nationalisation following the Second World War created citadels of public ownership outside the Soviet bloc that represented a standing affront to the New Right then emerging from the shadows into the era of mass politics. The road to serfdom was proclaimed, the great and the good assembled in Mont Pèlerin, and the sappers got to work as soon as they were able. Their opening came with the breakdown of the Keynesian equilibrium and onset of structural crisis in the 1970s. First imposed in Chile under the jackboot of the Pinochet dictatorship, then exported to Britain under Margaret Thatcher and out across the developing world via the IMF and World Bank, an aggressive programme of privatisation sought to reverse the post-war gains for public ownership in their entirety.

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Blue Labour, One Nation Labour, and the lessons of history (Renewal 21.2,3, Summer / Autumn 2013)

September 1, 2013

With the clock ticking down to the next election the Labour Party faces big questions about how to construct an attractive, plausible alternative to the politics of the Coalition. It needs a narrative which blames the economic crash of 2008-12 on unfet- tered capitalism rather than alleged Labour profligacy, but more than that it needs a vision of the future that can capture voters’ imagination and persuade them that Labour can make a difference in tough times. The debates of the past three years have thrown up many powerful ideas which seek to provide both narrative and vision. Maurice Glasman’s Blue Labour project began this process by declaring open season on many of the party’s sacred cows (Glasman, 2010; Glasman et al., 2011; Davis, 2011). Its style was avowedly controversial; it was a good way to gain attention for new ideas, but not a good way to ensure that they were taken seriously by the sceptical and unaligned. By 2011 many felt that the wheels had come off the Glasman wagon (Davis, 2012). But Blue Labour’s core propositions have not gone away; rather, over the past year they have fed into the debate about how the party might put flesh on Ed Miliband’s procla- mation of a new politics of ‘One Nation Labour’ (Cruddas, 2013).

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Beyond living with capitalism (Renewal 21.2,3, Summer / Autumn 2013)

September 1, 2013

In 1994 Dan Corry wrote an article in Renewal on the shape of Labour’s macroeconomic policy (Corry, 1994). After almost twenty years it is striking how relevant much of the article still feels. The original piece was entitled ‘Living with capitalism’ but today’s Labour economic policy appears to have moved beyond simply living with capitalism and is setting out an active agenda of how to change and shape it.

Labour’s macroeconomic policy has moved through several distinct stages over the past two decades and the very definition of what exactly constitutes a ‘macroeconomic policy’ has been contested. In the early 1990s traditional macroeconomic policy (defined as the use of fiscal and monetary policy to impact upon macroeconomic variables such as growth, inflation and unemployment) was downplayed in favour of an agenda of supply-side reforms. In the mid-1990s a brief flirtation occurred with a more rounded approach to ‘political economy’, as opposed to simple macroeconomics, focused on the concept of a stakeholder economy. But this eventually gave way to a macroeco- nomic framework of ‘constrained discretion’ for policy-makers (Bank of England independence and fiscal rules) and a renewed focus on straightforward supply-side reforms. The notion of fundamentally changing the UK’s national business model was quietly dropped.

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The politics of predistribution: Interview with Jacob Hacker (Renewal 21.2,3, Summer / Autumn 2013)

September 1, 2013

Jacob Hacker interviewed by Ben Jackson and Martin O’Neill

The American political scientist Jacob Hacker has been catapulted into the heart of British political debate as a result of Ed Miliband’s prominent endorsement of Hacker’s idea of ‘predistribution’. Hacker is a distinguished and influential scholar of public policy and American politics, who has also been closely involved in public debates in the United States on issues such as health-care reform and welfare policy. He is the author of numerous books and articles, including The Divided Welfare State (2002); The Great Risk Shift (2006); and Winner-Take-All Politics (2010) (co-authored with Paul Pierson). In this interview Hacker explores what he means by predistribution; its political and economic implications; and why he thinks it has struck a chord in today’s Labour Party.

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Trade unionism after the crash: Interview with Frances OGrady (Renewal 21.2,3, Summer / Autumn 2013)

September 1, 2013

Frances O’Grady interviewed by Sarah Hutchinson and Florence Sutcliffe Braithwaite

Frances O’Grady became General Secretary of the Trades Union Congress in January 2013 – the first woman ever to hold the post. Before that, she had been Deputy General Secretary, head of the TUC’s organisation department, and TUC Campaigns Officer, as well as working for the Transport and General Workers Union, and in a variety of jobs, from shop work to the voluntary sector. In April 2013 she delivered the Attlee Memorial Lecture at University College, Oxford (O’Grady, 2013). In this interview, she talks about the agenda she set out in her Attlee lecture; the role of trade unionism in Britain today; the new feminism; and the prospects for democratic socialism.

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Can One Nation Labour learn from the New Left? (Renewal 21.1, Spring 2013)

May 1, 2013

The early British New Left – a vibrant activist and intellectual current that flourished between 1956 and 1963 and whose brief lifespan encompassed the early careers of many of the most important British socialist intellectuals of the last half-century – has made an unexpected recent return to the political stage. In the ongoing discussion about ideological renewal within the British Labour Party, figures associated with the ‘Blue’ and latterly ‘One Nation’ Labour tendencies, particularly Jon Cruddas and his collaborator Jonathan Rutherford, have cited the ideas of prominent New Leftists, most often Edward Thompson and Raymond Williams, in support of their arguments for a politics that seeks to re-connect Labour traditions to English culture and society (Cruddas and Rutherford, 2010; Rutherford, 2011).

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The first New Left, Blue Labour and English modernity (Renewal 21.1, Spring 2013)

May 1, 2013

The first New Left, Blue Labour and English modernity.

This essay is about the first New Left and Blue Labour. They are both examples of emergent currents of thinking and action at times of political hiatus on the left. In this hiatus what counts is not policy but the energy of emerging political moods and intellectual currents. They begin to re-orientate thinking and action, reconfiguring existing political fault- lines, and once more connecting people with political agency. Policy follows.

The first New Left and Blue Labour are different in their politics, but they share a common historical thread. They mark the beginning and the closing of a specific historical period. It begins with the changes in economy and society in the 1950s, the social liberal revolution of the 1960s, and the historical defeat of the left in the neo-liberal economic revolution of Margaret Thatcher in 1979. It closes in 2008 with the self-destruction of this economic revolution and the subsequent unfolding revelations of deceit and corrupt behaviour in political, civic and commercial life.

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The political economy of the service transition (Renewal 21.1, Spring 2013)

May 1, 2013

Over the past thirty years the wealthiest OECD economies – in Europe, North America and Australasia – have experienced rapid de-industrialisation. A range of factors have contributed to the de-industrialisation process: some, like technological change and changes in the characteristics of consumer demand, are internal to the development process in the economies themselves; others, like increased competition from developing countries in the market for manufactured goods, are external. Whatever its roots, there is no doubt that the impact of de-industrialisation on labour markets has been profound: more than three quarters of employment in most OECD countries is now in services, while industrial sectors, on average, account for less than one fifth. This sectoral shift in the locus of economic activity has potentially radical implications for politics and society. In a new book on The Political Economy of the Service Transition (Wren, 2013; hereafter: PET), I have brought together a group of scholars from Europe and North America to assess the implications of the service transition for existing socio-economic regimes. We investigate how variations in the underlying institutional structures of alternative ‘varieties of capitalism’ have influenced their ability to manage the transition to services – in particular their capacity for creating new types of jobs in the face of declining opportunities in core manufacturing sectors, and the distributional outcomes with which new strategies for employment creation are associ- ated. We also analyse the implications of the transition for politics – and for the sustainability of existing socio-economic models. The central findings of this volume speak to the on-going debate on the pages of Renewal and elsewhere about the viability of alternative ‘varieties of capitalism’ in a post-crisis world.

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Ed Miliband’s Rubik Cube: One Nation Labour and Swedens peoples home (Renewal 20.4, Winter 2012)

January 1, 2013

Apparently Ed Miliband can do a Rubik’s Cube in one minute and thirty seconds. Impressive to many. Just another proof of the Labour leader’s geekiness to others. The original Rubik’s cube is a 3 x 3 x 3 array made up of 26 smaller cubes in six colours. It was invented by the Hungarian architect Ernö Rubik in 1974 and went on to become the world’s biggest-selling toy. Puzzles fascinate us because we know they have an answer. If they were random chaos with no discoverable pattern they wouldn’t be interesting – they would just be junk. You don’t create a solution to a puzzle, you discover its pattern. What you do create by solving it, though, are instructions on how that specific puzzle works.

Sometimes politics is like this too. There are patterns: things that have worked that might work again. With many political problems, just as with Rubik’s Cubes, the solution lies not in what to think but how to think.

During his conference speech in Manchester in October Ed Miliband said the words ‘One Nation’ 46 times. By using the phrase made famous by the Conservative Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli, Miliband was not only rolling his tanks onto the Conservatives’ lawn, he was also trying to claim the mantle of national unity for Labour.

To a Swede like myself the strategy seemed familiar. For 80 years the term ‘the people’s home’ (Folkhemmet) was the most powerful idea in Swedish politics. Just like ‘One Nation’, it was a concept first used by the right. But the Social Democrats claimed it as their own in the 1920s and it went on to become the foundation for decades of social democratic rule in Sweden.

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Social democracy in the age of austerity: the radical potential of democratising capital (Renewal 20.4, Winter 2012)

January 1, 2013

Social democracy at a crossroads

Historians joke that, no matter what the period, the middle class is always rising. In the same vein, social democracy seems perpetually at a crossroads. This may not be surprising, given the revisionist origins and protean political tendencies of a tradition whose leadership has always been prepared to hedge and trim and accommodate to the prevailing political winds. But today, more than a hundred years after the first of the parties affiliated to the Second International won a plurality in a parliamentary election (in Finland in 1907; Anderson, 1992, 307), social democracy may finally be running out of rope. All the main European social democratic parties are facing a crisis, registering at long last endlessly postponed questions about their fundamental purpose and programme. The strategic choices they make now and in the next few years could determine whether social democracy survives as the principal political force on the left or finally gives up the ghost, expiring not with a bang but a whimper and with scarcely a mourner at the funeral.

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Histories of debt (Renewal 20.4, Winter 2012)

January 1, 2013

Debt: The First 5000 Years
David Graeber
MELVILLE HOUSE, 2011

The Closed Commercial State: Perpetual Peace and Commercial Society From Rousseau to Fichte
Isaac Nakhimovsky
PRINCETON UNIVERSITY PRESS, 2011

Before the Deluge: Public Debt, Inequality, and the Intellectual Origins of the French Revolution
Michael Sonenscher
PRINCETON UNIVERSITY PRESS, 2007

The ubiquity of debt

Debt is everywhere in our political discourse; the single social relation that links the multiple, intersecting crises of the world economy, and one which imposes the most crippling restrictions on the political agendas of social democrats (Sen, 2011). Three recent works, each (in their way) representative of some lively streams in contemporary academic and political practice, might help us to understand what’s really at stake in our current condition, by building discussions of debt and money in to meditations on history and political theory.

Michael Sonenscher and Isaac Nakhimovsky are both involved in an ongoing effort to reappraise the eighteenth century discipline of political economy and its relationships with moral philosophy and constitutional theory, a field that has emerged in coincidence with a revival of political interest in Adam Smith and the retreat of classical Marxism from the academy (for example: Hont and Ignatieff, 1983; Rothschild, 1998; Hont, 2005; Robertson, 2005; Phillipson, 2010; Reinert, 2011). The intellectual history of debt is revealed to be indispensible to the understanding of the representative governments that we now take to be distinctively ‘modern’. 

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Editorial: Twenty years of Renewal – Labour, New Labour, social democracy (Renewal 20.2,3, Summer / Autumn 2012)

October 1, 2012

To leaf through the back issues of Renewal is a gripping but disquieting experience; it brings back the mixed political emotions of the last twenty years. The excitement, and relief, of the run-up to 1997, with the end of the long Conservative night and the emer- gence at last of a viable centre-left governing project. The awkward, but still hopeful, adjustment to the realities of government, as long overdue reforms moved from theoretical debate in publications such as Renewal to the official policy of the British state. And of course, as the issues flick past, there is also disillusionment, spreading like a stain until it obscures even the strong parts of Labour’s record in power.

As Renewal reaches its twentieth year of publication, it is salutary, in considering the journal’s future agenda, to remind ourselves of Renewal’s history.

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The identity crisis of Jon Cruddas (Renewal 21.2,3, Summer / Autumn 2012)

October 1, 2012

Jon Cruddas may have been asked to lead the Labour opposition’s policy review but the Dagenham MP is not, truth be told, especially interested in policy. ‘What interests me is not policy as such; rather the search for political sentiment, voice and language; of general definition within a national story. Less The Spirit Level, more what is England’, he said, speaking on ‘the good society’ at the University of East Anglia (Cruddas, 2012).

The public lecture series was entitled ‘Philosopher kings? How philosophy informs real politics today’, making contributions from Cruddas and Conservative David Willetts perhaps inevitable. But the utility of philosophy in political battle is not universally acknowl- edged. ‘Perhaps when they find out what is England they will let us all have the answer’, said Chancellor George Osborne, deploying this Cruddas passage for a little partisan polit- ical knockabout. The mockery will have chimed with Labour MPs who worry about whether their new policy chief leading Ed Miliband on an elusive quest for the essence of national identity will prove a particularly direct route to a winning agenda on the deficit, growth, jobs and housing.

Ed Miliband has placed a significant political bet on Cruddas as Labour’s philosopher king. It was not just a bet on the man himself, and his ability to somehow cajole the disparate actors within the byzantine, opaque, and dysfunctional Labour policy review and manifesto-making process into some sort of coherence. It was also a significant endorse- ment of the Cruddasite disposition about what matters most in politics, a view with which his leader has increasingly come to empathise.

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Obama and the prospects for American progressives: Interview with Robert Kuttner (Renewal 21.2,3, Summer / Autumn 2012)

October 1, 2012

As the US presidential election enters the home straight and the British political class over- indulges in the minutiae of Obama’s re-election battle, Robert Kuttner provides a more radical appraisal of the American political scene than is usually purveyed to a British audience. Kuttner has a distinguished track record as a progressive journalist, commentator, and editor: he has been the Washington editor of The Village Voice; a national staff writer on The Washington Post during the Watergate era; and economics editor of The New Republic. He was a long-standing columnist for Business Week, and continues to write columns for The Boston Globe. Along with Paul Starr and Robert Reich, Kuttner founded The American Prospect in 1990, and has since played a key role in building the new magazine into an important venue for American liberal debate. Alongside these journalistic commitments, Kuttner has written numerous books on economic policy and politics, including Everything for Sale: The Virtues and Limits of Markets (1997); The Squandering of America (2007); Obama’s Challenge (2008); and A Presidency in Peril: The Inside Story of Obama’s Promise, Wall Street’s Power and the Struggle to Control our Future (2010). Across this impressive body of work, Kuttner has offered sustained advocacy of a liberal politics that seeks to marry American economic dynamism with the pursuit of social justice and a deeper democracy. A trenchant critic of the right-ward trajectory of the Democrats over the last twenty years, Kuttner reflects in this interview on Obama’s first term in office; the ideological contours of the Democratic Party; the opportunities for a new political settlement presented by the financial crisis; and, of course, on the presidential campaign now hurtling towards its conclusion.

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Review: Ferdinand Mount, a conversion on the road from the Barbican (Renewal 21.2,3, Summer / Autumn 2012)

October 1, 2012

Ferdinand Mount, A conversion on the road from the Barbican
Reviewed by Danny Dorling 

Ferdinand Mount’s The New Few is fascinating. This is as much for who is writing the book as for what he has uncovered. Part national analysis, part personal revelation, The New Few charts how the excesses of the rich have become so gross that, by page 213, we learn that Mr Mount, in 2010, switched his current account from Barclays to the Co-op! It is these asides that kept my interest up and is why I would recommend this book. It contains some good suggestions but also a great many basic errors; but that is not the main reason it is worth reading. It is worth reading to understand that the elite are beginning to get it too. There is light on the horizon! Ferdinand isn’t any old polemist complaining about the bankers, the aristocracy, all those at the top. He’s from the top. Sir William Robert Ferdinand Mount, 3rd baronet, proclaimed (on his Wikipedia page) author of the 1983 Tory general election manifesto, former City Banker, and the cousin of Prime Minister David Cameron’s mother, is annoyed. He is very annoyed with how unequal we have all become, because that was not the plan or, at least, not his plan. 

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Democracy, collective action, and the state: an exchange (Renewal 19.3,4, Autumn / Winter 2011)

December 1, 2011

From: Marc Stears
To: Tim Horton

Dear Tim

I hope you share my sense that this is an exciting time to be thinking anew about Labour and the priorities of the British left. There is an energy about Labour at the moment which is both sorely needed and stimulating to see.

It didn’t necessarily seem as if it would be this way a year ago. The Labour leadership race did not really generate any great sense of debate or new direction in the Party. Perhaps it was just too muted because of the fact that the two leading candidates were brothers or perhaps it was because we were still all too stunned by the election defeat. But now I hope we will both agree that there is a sense that the Party is finding a direction again. Ed Miliband is also providing effective leadership both on short-term issues and on the long-term challenges facing Britain.

Where perhaps we might disagree is in the role that so-called ‘Blue Labour’ has played in this re-energising of the Party.

It seems to me that, for all of its faults, the debate that has surrounded ‘Blue Labour’, and that emerged from the e-book that launched that debate, The Labour Tradition and the Politics of Paradox, has contributed significantly (Glasman et al., 2011). It has helped the Party find a new agenda and re-connect with parts of the public that had become distanced and detached during the last years of the previous Labour government. 

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Review: Will Straw ed., Going for Growth (Renewal 19.3,4, Autumn / Winter 2011)

December 1, 2011

Going for Growth
Will Straw (ed.) ippr, 2011

Reviewed by Noel Thompson

‘In the long run we are all dead. Economists set themselves too easy a task if in tempestuous seasons they can only say that when the storm is long past the ocean will be flat once again’. Keynes’s challenge to economists in his Tract on Monetary Reform is as relevant today as it was in the 1920s. Iterated in a context where Great War public expenditure had significantly inflated the National Debt and contributed to the turbulence of the immediate post-war period, Keynes warned against any notion that fiscal retrenchment and the equilibrating properties of the market would be sufficient to move the economy back to full employment and sustained growth. The Tract itself proposed a more active and imaginative monetary policy but his later work emphasised the need for state intervention in the form of increased public expenditure, both to supplement private sector activity and to create the kind of infrastructure and confidence that would allow that sector to flourish. Again, there are powerful parallels with contemporary concerns; rendered even more powerful by recent events.

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