Make Labour politics your politics

Mary Southcott says read and respond to Labour’s new policy review. She highlights the area of local and regional government as a critical area for change

As you will know, Labour’s new Leader, Keir Starmer, has written to all Labour members to consult them on Labour’s policy. This is our opportunity to decide what of our previous manifestos we take into the future, which we draw upon and which we drop or explain.

His email invitation went out by email, and the deadline for submissions has now been extended to 20th July.

Helpfully, the policy consultations each have a paper with questions at the end to respond to. However, if you go online as a Labour member or register as a visitor you can contribute your own ideas and look at the ideas others are suggesting.  

The papers are on the following subjects and most of the new consultations relate to what we have been learning during this coronavirus pandemic. Each consultation relates to a Labour Commission drawn from the Shadow Cabinet, the Parliamentary Labour Party, the National Executive Committee and Members of the National Policy Forum.  

This is our golden opportunity to discover something positive in the sacrifice many have made and are still making, including their lives, livelihoods and certainly the work of key workers which have been crucial to our society as they have always been.  

There is a possibility that after coronavirus we will find ourselves with a stark choice, a new paradigm of recognition that we are always “all in it together”, something which has evaded many people in both the twin shock results in 2016 of the European Referendum and the Trump presidential election.  

From their different perspectives and without even knowing what was to happen in December 2019 or the coronavirus, both William Waldegrave and Billy Bragg have suggested changes we need to make when we pass through the “toxic ditch” of Brexit, whether we supported it in the referendum or not, whether there is a No Deal outcome or a flawed deal at the end of 2020.

Where were we going and what were we saying to the voters in our recent manifestos? What do we want to retain, add to, refresh, explain better, drop or find irrelevant? We need to move together as a party, find consensus and work together.  

Already the Conservatives have moved from their neoliberal rhetoric to another theme based more on saving lives and saving jobs, but below the surface are spending much of the public money on private providers. They are questioning the accountability of the European Court of Human Rights. They have had to work with Scotland and Wales but they are disregarding devolved structures in England, especially local government which has not been invested in and the elected mayors and combined authorities which they have supported but are not the whole answer to the English Question. They intend to row back on the political culture which insists that the Greater London Assembly is elected by Additional Member System, elected mayors and police and crime commissioners (elected on a Supplementary Vote system) that ensures the views of the majority, not of the largest minority, are reflected in the result of elections.   

Without being unthinkingly anti-Tory – there must be policies we agree with – where do we want to be in terms of forging a national narrative or consensus with policy overlap with other parties and agreement among ourselves by 2024?  

If you only respond to one issue, tell the Commissions you want a new voting system that allows us to seek consensus rather than elective dictatorship.  

We need of course to look at the divisions in our society, to recognise that black lives matter, that women are not play things, that domestic violence and poverty harms us all.  

We need to invest in our good institutions and make them better: the NHS, our criminal justice system and education service where inequality is not overcome however good the teachers and schools. We need to decide how we fund social care after so much equivocation.  

When even Boris Johnson is talking about consensus we need to be the party that will work together to get things done, seeing investment in people as our future whether that is in the NHS, local government, or alternative jobs for people who work in industries based on old assumptions of defence and energy requirements. Let’s think the impossible dream and then argue for it.  

Search for the various commission sites, read the papers, look at the questions in each, follow the discussion and most of all put in your ideas and argue for them. We need to have an overall philosophy of listening, learning from those who have different ideas, working with people where we agree, finding solutions and getting things done. Brexit will make it harder because we did not apply this political culture to our relationships abroad or internally.  

Housing, Local Government and Transport Policy Commission 

is consulting on:

Coronavirus and the future of local government (older consultation) 
Q. How to make local government funding appropriate for the work needed to be done at local level?

Local economic development (older consultation)

Economy, Business and Trade Policy Commission 

is consulting on:

Economic recovery and renewal after coronavirus 

Democratic Public Ownership (this is an older consultation) 
Q. Can we persuade the media to avoid using the word ‘nationalisation’?
Q. Can we advocate another model involving workers and users rather than top down ways nationalised industries worked in the past?


The future of social security after coronavirus 
Q. Will we be supporting a basic income some elements of which have emerged to deal with the coronavirus lockdown?
Q. Will we be supporting a basic income some elements of which have emerged to deal with the coronavirus lockdown?
Q. Should we look again at a four day week which would help parents of younger children but might not be relevant for some workers?

Rebuilding a just social security system (older consultation) 

Health and Social Care Policy Commission 

has two consultations: 

Rebuilding a Public NHS 
Q. Do we regrade key workers and their salaries?
Q. Do we recognise that health is a team effort?
Q. Do we bring general practitioners into the NHS?

The Health and Social Care System after Coronavirus 
Q. Do we set up a Health and Social Care Service and coordinate hospitals, local authorities, home care and homes which provide care?
Q. Do we pay for it through life long contributions or after we die?
Q. Is this a death tax or an inheritance tax?

Justice and Home Affairs Commission (also includes the remit of the Shadow Cabinet Office on Constitutional and Democratic Reform)

is consulting on:

Devolution and the Constitution after Coronavirus 
Q. Will we change the voting system which allows for elective dictatorship occasionally for Labour but for the last four elections the Tories?
Q. Is subsidiarity the right course because that way we involve people in the decisions which affect their lives?
Q. Do we look again at the English Regions which Dominic Cummings and Matthew Elliott saw off in 2004 in the North East referendum with no Education or Health devolved?
Q. What should we do with elected mayors and combined authorities?
Q. Do we need a written constitution?
Q. Are we going to risk having any more referendums without rules?

The Justice System 
Q. Can we find alternatives to prison for women with children for non violent crime?
Q. Can we expose some white collar crime such as unpaid income tax, tax havens, fraud, scams?
Q. Would statistics about black prisoners draw attention to faults in our policing and justice system?
Q. How many prisoners have learning difficulties, are illiterate, mental health issues, drugs and alcohol addiction and are there alternative ways of dealing with such people who end up in prison?

Environment, Energy and Culture Commission

is consulting on:

Protecting the natural environment after Coronavirus 
Q. Is this more than building trees?
Q. Will we speed up our response to the climate emergency and how?
Q. How do we get people back on public transport?
Q. Shouldn’t clean air and birdsong survive lockdown?
Q. Swords into ploughshares? Environmentally friendly jobs rather than our nuclear industry?
Q. Do we need to build more nuclear power stations forgetting all about the costs of decommissioning?

A sustainable food policy (earlier consultation) 

Early Years, Education and Skills 

is consulting on:

Local accountability within the National Education Service (older consultation)
Q. Where does Local government, school governors, parents, school children fit in?

The Education System after Coronavirus 
Q. Are we going to have citizenship education in schools?
Q. Who will teach the teachers?
Q. Is this where history of imperialism and slavery can be taught or in history lessons?
Q. Should we know about our statues, our street names and who lived in our citizens, towns and villages?
Q. Should class sizes stay lower?

The International Policy Commission 

is consulting on:

Brexit (older consultation) 
Q. How can we ensure a strong future relationship with Europe that protects jobs, rights and the economy?
Q. Will there come a time when it is worth reconsidering the Referendum vote of 2016?
Q. Will “rejoiners” sell a vision of our geography and the EU that can be sold for full membership and not a halfway house opt-out status?

Championing internationalism in the post-coronavirus world
Q. Is NATO anachronistic?
Q. What do we say about China?
Q. Does the UK need to be a UN Security Council Permanent Member?
Q. Are we happy linking environment and international development with foreign affairs or linking foreign affairs with defence?
Q. Is our nuclear deterrent independent or a deterrent?
Q. Do we want nuclear proliferation to continue?
Q. Are we willing to leave Palestinians stateless while understanding that antisemitism is rooted in racism and prejudice which should not continue?

Public Services Unit (older consultation)
Q. Do we want to continue advocating this policy for the Department for International Development?


  1. sadly starmer has not got the message that policy is irrelevant. The manifesto was popular and the policy line went down well. Labour got the worst result since 1935

    I shall ignore this waste of time and stress the key point that labour is unelectable. Unless people identify with the party, as they did in 1997 but Blair blew it then there is no point. On the resuts in 2019 there is no way there can be a labour government and as Nandy has said, no one is talking about how to win back bassetlaw.

    Or any other contstituencies lost since 2005

    This is a party which cannot win the next election. The first thing would be to repeal the FTPA and put the party on a war footing, since Johnson will not last.

    When there is an NEC election I will vote for anyone who promises to scrap policy discussion – I assume starmer is accepting the NPF is now dead Anyone join in on a bonfire of policy discussion?

    Trevor Fisher

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