progress is not the elimination of struggle, but rather a change in its terms’ - Aneurin Bevan

misc & manifesto

The positive economic news coming out is accompanied by interesting opinion poll on the Tories, whose position on the economy is hopelessly confused. From regional development agencies to deficit-reduction, the Tory line keeps changing.

Yesterday there was another report on the co-operative content of Labour's next manifesto, this time in the Observer. The PM has hosted the launch of a new co-op grouping at 10 Downing St. (See: a report on the Future Co-operative 2010 conferences, and also the new social networking site Co-operative Hive.) The government is backing a new law that will see bosses of transport and utility firms will be obliged to attend public meetings to answer for failings. And there are moves towards electoral reform to be announced.

Forty Labour MPs have backed a statement calling for a radical manifesto, which I agree with, though I'd add a further paragraph on the need to promote co-ownership:

In order to mobilise the maximum number of Labour voters in preparation for the next election, we believe that Labour should now focus its campaigning around the following key principles:

A. The recession should be tackled not with cuts in essential public spending, but by massive public investment in house-building, infrastructure and the de-carbonisation of the economy.

B. Banks should be split up with their casino investment arms hived off. Publicly-owned retail banks should be required to meet new social and community objectives and support manufacturing, with lending to businesses and homeowners restored to 2007 levels. Pay and bonuses should be tightly regulated.

C. A clean break must be made with market fundamentalism – deregulation and privatisation. Public provision should be expanded – in health care, education, housing, pensions, energy and transport. Royal Mail must remain wholly in the public sector.

D. In the face of huge and unacceptable growth of inequality, a big redistribution programme must swing resources away from the rich to provide sizeable increases in pensions, the minimum wage, the lowest benefit levels, and to fund job creation and improved public services. Union rights must be restored – it is in economic crisis that workers are most in need of that protection.

E. To achieve the 80% carbon emission reduction target by 2050, renewable sources of energy should be promoted on a far bigger scale, industry (including airlines) should be required to reduce its climate change emissions by at least 3% per year, household carbon allowances should be introduced, and the UK targets should be fully met by domestic action and not by carbon offsetting abroad.

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