On Tuesday JB, SH and AP dropped into the House of Commons Gift Shop, via a hustings event organised by the Open Left project at Demos. Representatives for each of the five Labour leadership candidates were quizzed on where their candidate stands in relation to various policies raised by questions from the attendees, including 00:/.
Highlight / Hazel Blears: “The Conservatives have stolen our clothes!”
Quick Summary / Very few signs of where the centre-left of UK politics might be going. The terms of debate were a little tired and familiar, deficits, schools cuts, ‘big’ vs ‘small’ government, Trident… you might argue that the language being used by the centre-left is stil being shaped by the centre-right.
We would like to have heard a bit more about... / Labour’s alternative to the ‘Big Society’, climate change and energy security (still no-one talking about peak oil), a long term strategy for tackling the North/South divide, the future of the BBC, 21st century citizenship and what the centre-left’s approach to house price inflation and the housing crisis might be.
Interesting Afterthought / As we left, one of David Miliband’s supporters was handing out copies of his recent Keir Hardie speech, one notable section of which suggests that the ‘Big Society’ idea is here to stay, and that the debates to come are more about its authenticity and implementation, something 00:/ spend a lot of time thinking about: “I take the Big Society seriously. But it is a piece of doublethink – a small society maintained by voluntarism and charity alone. I want a bigger society, based on reciprocity not just kindness or charity, and I intend to make that a Labour issue.”
A video of the event can be viewed here.