England does mean something – and it’s in Labour’s interests to define it

English politicians can learn something from the Scottish example of devolution, writes Richard Carr

English ncrjSt George’s Day is a slightly odd moment for the English. Not so much a festival of Englishness, more a reminder – outside of bi-annual major international football tournaments or American TV confusing the terms – that England as an entity remains distinct from the UK.

Despite containing both an eponymous central bank and a Church, England rarely stands alone in either rhetoric or policy. Arguing over what England means, in this context, can seem purely academic. Read More »

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“I’m a great believer in social mobility” – Left Foot Forward talks to Tory MP Adam Afriyie

Rob Edwards caught up with the up-and-coming Tory MP about social mobility, coalition politics and UKIP

Adam AfriyiejFew politicians embody the social narrative of their party as surely as Adam Afriyie. In a relentless rise from Peckham council estate to Westminster village, the Windsor MP has emerged as the essence of social mobility, aspirational Conservativism and true-blue grit.

Elected in 2005, Afriyie has recently bolted out of obscurity – his backbench interventions often provocative, seemingly ambiguous in motive and occasionally at odds with the Tory upper crust. Read More »

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The coalition is slowly terminating the social contract

We need to talk about our rights as members of the public rather than letting corporations define them, writes Matt Hawkins

Clement Atlee ncrjWhat did Aristotle, Thomas Hobbes, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Thomas Paine, and Tony Benn all have in common? Queue the worst punchline ever: they all believed that government was bound by a ‘social contract’ to act for and in the interests of its citizens (you were warned).

Whilst pre-contract society was lawless and, according to Hobbes, “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short”, the social contract – signed between the public and the government – was meant to guarantee protection by the state and a decent standard of living for all. Read More »

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Behind the headlines: Is it really a ‘shock’ drop in violent crime?

Have we really witnessed a dramatic fall in violent crime because young people have stopped binge drinking? asks James Bloodworth

Police car ncpjThe Times leads today with the splash that there has been a “shock drop in violent crime” in the UK. The story is based on the news that, between 2012 and 2013, there was a 12 per cent drop in the number of victims of violent crime.

According to data from almost a third of emergency departments, 235,000 people were treated following a violent attack in 2013 – 32,800 fewer than in the previous year.

The drop has been attributed to falling alcohol consumption and a reduction in binge drinking – itself attributed to the rising cost of alcohol. Read More »

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The PM’s role in securing a probe into Sri Lanka’s human rights violations should extend to India’s massacre of Sikhs

The truth of what happened in India in 1984 deserves to be told, writes Hardeep Singh

David Cameron SikhsjRevelations about the Thatcher government’s ‘limited’ involvement in the 1984 Golden Temple massacre have led to calls on the coalition to support a UN resolution for investigating human rights violations by India.

Although an ambitious goal, recent developments at the UN Human Rights Council (UN HRC) indicate it’s not impossible. Read More »

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Combining road building and fracking is a toxic combination

Ministers have chosen to combine roadbuilding and fracking in a single toxic piece of legislation, writes Andrew Allen

George Osborne nc1jWhat should government do when faced with two highly contentious and unpopular policies that need primary legislation?

In the case of roadbuilding and fracking, ministers have apparently chosen to combine them in a single toxic piece of legislation. It’s a move that will unite green campaigners in opposition and could ferment a much broader frustration with the direction of government policy.

According to rumours in this morning’s papers, a new Infrastructure Bill will be introduced in the Queen’s Speech on 3 June. The mainstay of the innocent sounding Bill will be measures to allow energy companies to ‘frack’ for shale gas under private land without permission and to speed up the massive programme of road building by giving the Highways Agency more freedom over how to spend its increasingly gargantuan budget. Read More »

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Labour should never take ethnic minority voters for granted

If the Tories can shake off the nasty party image, there is ample evidence the party can build on the 16 per cent ethnic minority support they had in 2010, writes James Bloodworth

Conservative treej“The rising number of middle-class ethnic minority voters could help tip the election in favour of David Cameron,” the Telegraph proclaimed this morning, citing new research by Demos which suggests Labour risks losing ethnic minority voters as they become more middle class.

Second and third generation immigrants could lose their ‘reflex’ support for Labour, with those moving to traditionally white middle class areas adopting the voting patterns of their new neighbours, according to the study. Read More »

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We’re failing to win the argument on human rights

It’s not just that we’re denied space to make the argument, it’s that we’ve failed to make a convincing case for human rights, argues Andrew Noakes

Daily MailjNext week the Labour Campaign for Human Rights and the Society of Labour Lawyers will come together to co-host an event on how Labour can best defend its most important human rights achievement while in government – the Human Rights Act (HRA).

With the Tories threatening to repeal the HRA and withdraw from the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), which the HRA incorporates into UK law, and the media and public largely sceptical about human rights in general, we who desperately want to defend the HRA and ECHR face a difficult road ahead. Read More »

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Five ways Labour can give power to public service users

People want a greater say when it comes to public services, according to most polling. Cat Hobbs looks at how Ed Miliband can start to give it to them

Ed Miliband no copyrightjDavid Axelrod, Obama’s campaign manager and now Ed Miliband’s election advisor, has described his new client as someone who takes on “powerful interests” and speaks up for the majority. When it comes to public services, however, this has yet to be proven.

In his Hugo Young speech in February, Miliband gave an outline of Labour’s policy with a new call for “people-powered public services”. Mentioning schools, the NHS and local government, he called for individuals to have access to information held about them and the chance to link up with support networks. Read More »

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Voters in England want devolution too

With the Scottish independence argument hotting up, it’s important that the issue of devolution in England is not overlooked, writes Neil Foster

England mapjWith increased political attention in Scotland as the independence referendum looms nearer, it’s important that the issue of devolution of economic power in England is not overlooked. New polling published today shows that there is real interest and appetite for more decision-making to be taken from Whitehall and devolved to regional and local areas.

65 per cent of voters agree that ‘too much of England is run from London’, with just 13 per cent disagreeing and 19 per cent saying they ‘neither agree or disagree’. This view is strongest among Labour (78 per cent), Liberal Democrat (72 per cent) and UKIP supporters (71 per cent), reflecting a broad alliance of voters that believes the capital is too dominant. Read More »

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