As Autumn begins, Labour’s difficult summer falls like last year’s leaves, allowing everyone to focus on the bare tree and ponder our future. What is the new English socialism needed to reshape the political landscape we can see on the 2030 horizon?
At the last general election, England shifted decisively blue. Today’s polls show us faring even worse, trailing by 17 per cent. The world is changing rapidly. And, whilst being true to our values, we need to change with it.
In an age of identity politics the loud shout of the English in voting “No” to the EU, is a call to be heard. To be listened to, to be taken seriously. We want to come out of Europe but we don’t want to lose out? How should Labour respond to this challenge? What is the Red Shift that puts Labour in the driving seat of these demanding and changing times?
Whilst trust in politics might be low, voters rightly have high expectations of us. They expect us to square the circle, to find a new way for England in the world which transforms our productivity and trade. Somewhere through the tangled devolution spaghetti of metro mayors, and other models, local Labour leaders must seize the opportunity to power and empower local communities.
In the next 15 years new technology and demographic shifts will transform the workplace. If Labour is to be the workers’ party it needs to be relevant to workers today and tomorrow. With the rise of the robots, and the return of the retired to the workplace, Labour needs to represent the interests and concerns of the new tech workers, the new English working class.
By 2020 more people will be self-employed than working in public services. What is Labour’s role in making their workplaces and working time safe and secure? What are the new factory Acts for the modern age? How do we ensure that the new public realm of 21 st century assets thrive to make England a better place? What will be the data Acts for the 21st century that ensure the governance of data is safe whilst allowing that data to drive the positive changes in healthcare, the environment and so on to improve our lives today and tomorrow?
We need new dynamic institutions to provide for us in old age, as we age longer and to deliver personal healthcare within a National Health Service. These are the known challenges: we also need to be ready for the unknown challenges!
In all of this Brand Labour needs to show how the “we” helps the “me”. There is no lack of appetite for collective, shared solutions. There are umpteen spontaneously spawned each day by citizens working together for their collective, common good. The challenge for Labour is to connect with these new forms of collaboration and cooperation.
Finally there is a confidence in England’s abilities to shape the world in a role outside the EU. An inner, Churchillian confidence that we can make things happen in a big-hearted way. Without arrogance we, Labour, must represent the best of that spirit to play our part, tackling the new risks rising on the world stage. The world is changing rapidly, England is changing rapidly. Labour must shift to meet these changes and these challenges, to win by finding the new solutions that better people’s lives.
Nic Dakin, along with fellow MPs Liam Byrne and Shabana Mahmood, and activist Caroline Badley, have written a third Red Shift report on Understanding England as it is – Inspiring England as it could be: England in 2030, A Report on New English Socialism.
Labour needs to change – call it a Red Shift – if it is to speak for the concerns of the new English working class. As Autumn begins, Labour’s difficult...
Nic Dakin MP heard about the importance of talking buses at the Labour Party Conference this week.
He heard about the experiences of a guide dog owner who had missed their stop and been left stranded on a bus because they were unable to know where on the route they were.
Sadly, this is not an isolated experience: 7 in 10 passengers with sight loss have been forgotten on a bus. Talking buses, which are buses that provide “next stop” and “final destination” announcements, are essential for people with sight loss to live independently. Worryingly, only one fifth of the UK’s buses are talking, 97% of which are in London. For a sighted person, missing a stop is an annoyance, but for someone with sight loss, it is potentially dangerous.
The MP for Scunthorpe supports Guide Dogs’ proposal to make buses accessible for everyone and will be writing to the Transport Secretary urging him to put a requirement for talking buses in the Bus Services Bill, which is going through Parliament at the moment.
Labour politicians have already made an amendment to the Bill in the House of Lords to put in a requirement for talking buses, saying it is the ideal opportunity to make buses accessible.
Nic Dakin MP commented:
“I was shocked to learn when speaking with the charity Guide Dogs how often people are left on buses because they do not know where they are. The Bus Services Bill is the biggest reform of buses since the 1980s so it is a unique opportunity to make sure that blind people can use buses safely too.”
James White, Senior Campaigns Manager at Guide Dogs, commented:
“Talking buses give independence to people with sight loss, enabling them to travel on their own and reducing stress and anxiety. They also help other travellers including tourists and infrequent bus users to reach their destination safely.
“To ensure talking buses become the norm across the UK, we are asking politicians like Nic Dakin to use the Bus Services Bill to make sure all new buses are talking buses.”
Nic Dakin MP heard about the importance of talking buses at the Labour Party Conference this week. He heard about the experiences of a guide dog owner who had...
Nic Dakin has joined forces with some of the country’s biggest businesses in the fight against pregnancy and maternity discrimination that affects around 390,000 pregnant women and new mothers each year, by forming a new alliance to show employers how to attract, develop and retain women at work.
Major household names including Barclays, Royal Mail and BT Group are leading a coalition of businesses in the initiative ‘Working Forward – supporting pregnancy and maternity rights’, aiming to inspire other organisations to follow their example by working to eradicate discrimination from their businesses and make the best use of their female workforce.
The high-profile founding members will encourage businesses in their supply chains to sign up to the coalition and pledge to make their workplaces the best they can be for pregnant women and new mothers. The founders will share their knowledge, experience and good practice with businesses who sign up, as well as highlighting the economic benefits they get from retaining the talent and experience of their female employees.
The campaign also has the backing of influential business bodies such as the CBI, Institute of Directors (IOD), the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), and the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB).
With over 15 million women active in the UK labour market at any time, women make up half of the UK workforce. However, research shows more than two million women who are not working want to work and over one and half million women in work would like to do more hours. According to the Government’s own statistics, women's participation in the labour market increased to roughly the same as men’s, it would add 10% to the size of the economy by 2030.
’Working Forward’, set up by the Equality and Human Rights Commission, follows its recent landmark research, carried out in conjunction with the former Department from Business, Innovation and Skills which highlighted that while the majority of employers say they are firm supporters of female staff during and after pregnancy and find it easy to comply with the law, three in four (77%) mothers say they have had a negative or possibly discriminatory experience at work.
David Isaac, Chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission said;
“I am delighted that Nic has pledged his support to encourage businesses in the Scunthorpe constituency to sign up to this initiative to commit to delivering equality and ensure working environments benefit everyone. We can no longer accept women being unfairly treated at work because they are pregnant or on maternity leave.
“Attracting, developing and retaining talent, regardless of gender, is absolutely critical for the UK economy and for our businesses. Companies that show a real commitment to this are not only doing the right thing but can also gain a competitive edge.
The founding members are all recognised for leading the way in attracting, developing and retaining women in their workforces by adopting positive practice and progressive maternity policies.
Nic Dakin has joined forces with some of the country’s biggest businesses in the fight against pregnancy and maternity discrimination that affects around 390,000 pregnant women and new mothers each...
Well we live in very interesting times! Whoever would have guessed that the most successful Conservative Party leader would be out of office and out of parliament less than 18 months after an historic general election victory?
England gave a very clear message by voting for Brexit. People in my constituency voted two to one to leave.
It was a wake up call to the political mainstream and the establishment to go back to basics; listen and respond to the people we represent.
In its simplicity the referendum decision was also deeply complex. When the prime minister says ‘Brexit means Brexit’ she allows everyone to believe it means whatever they want it to mean.
So my most vocal constituents are confident that it means ‘taking back control’ and doing something about immigration.
As an MP with a significant rural area it’s important I listen to the voice of farmers and the food industry. The NFU understandably want the best possible access to markets inside and outside the EU as well as steps to ensure that British farmers are able to access the labour they need.
Lincolnshire and Peterborough Federation of Small Businesses gave me a similar plea. They want to retain access to the single market and have ease of access to EU labour.
Both organisations also asked for some confidence about the future of EU funded schemes. Helpfully the government has now confirmed that EU schemes in place before the Autumn Statement will go ahead.
But the questions around future schemes, the single market and access to labour remain unanswered.
They are big and complex – they will take some time to unravel.
So are those great membership organisations in denial about what Brexit means as they try to reflect their members’ views and do their best by them?
I don’t detect from people in my area any buyer’s remorse in voting for Brexit.
Or a willingness to accept this is complicated and will need care to navigate.
On the contrary my sense is that the majority of voters are happy with their choice. They want to come out but they don’t want to lose out. And they have a big hearted English confidence.
They believe in our ability to rise to the challenge. It’s the Dunkirk spirit or Drake at Plymouth Ho.
It seems there’s something incredibly Churchillian about the English that means we are at our best when things look most challenging.
Strangely, despite deep scepticism about politicians in general, there is a confidence that the country will find the political leadership it needs to take us through the choppy waters we are now in. And we will be the better for it.
So that’s the challenge to the MPs of Lincolnshire and beyond.
Take back control but don’t damage our access to the single market or our access to the labour we need to run our businesses.
It’s our job to square the circle!
Well we live in very interesting times! Whoever would have guessed that the most successful Conservative Party leader would be out of office and out of parliament less than 18...
To help prevent breast cancer, we need to look after our environment. The number of people who are currently living with cancer is in the region of 2.5 million. It is predicted that by 2030 over four million of us will be living with the disease.
This is a truly alarming number. The cost to the NHS alone is enormous – let alone the broader less quantifiable costs to society. There is no doubt about it, we all need to do more to help prevent people from getting this disease in the first place.
So what can we do to reverse this trend?
The recent NHS Cancer strategy (Achieving world-class cancer outcomes: a strategy for England 2015-2020) highlighted a number of priorities - including reducing the number of people who smoke, and a national action plan on obesity. These are all important and we think that by making these lifestyle changes a person can reduce the risk of getting breast cancer by around 30%.
According to the World Health Organisation, however, 19% of cancers worldwide could be attributable to our environments. Air pollution, in particular, exposes us to a wide range of carcinogenic and hazardous chemicals, and has been linked to respiratory infections, cardiovascular disease, and an increased risk of developing breast cancer. Those who live in deprived communities suffer disproportionately from the poorest air quality.
It is obvious that our health and the health of our environment are closely linked. An unhealthy, polluted environment makes it harder for us to live healthy lives.
However, how we tackle pollution and make our environment cleaner and healthier is a complex problem that reaches across government departments and policy areas. It links policies on public health, the environment, energy, business and transport. It requires measures to tackle immediate threats, such as a ban on plastic microbeads, but also requires a longer term strategy, that shapes future policies in a range of areas to ensure that our future will be cleaner, greener, and healthier.
Despite the complexity, significant progress has been made on improving our environment in recent decades, and there are opportunities for further gains. On air pollution, for example, we need a new Clean Air Act, to improve our air quality and ensure we don’t slip backwards once we leave the European Union.
If we are going to tackle the rising incidence of breast cancer, we must not only encourage people to live healthy lives, but also to ensure that they are living in a healthy environment. That is why I am supporting Breast Cancer UK’s breast cancer prevention week.
To help prevent breast cancer, we need to look after our environment. The number of people who are currently living with cancer is in the region of 2.5 million. It...