The party’s next manifesto, our first in opposition for nearly quarter of a century, has to achieve one thing: demonstrate that Labour retains an inspiring mission. It should be based on the principles of opportunity and fairness. Let’s be honest, many of the five million voters who left us at the last election felt we planted ourselves in a desert of pragmatism. Some felt we had lost a sense of our values.
Labour values, though enduring are currently under attack more than ever before. We need a strong and credible policy alternative if we are to take the fight to the Tories and fight these ideologically driven cuts. In recent months we have seen just how out of touch the Coalition Government are.
In two short years we’re seeing an NHS where profits are put before patients, Labour’s investment in the schools of the future has been slashed and long term youth unemployment has more than doubled in a single year.
If we are to win back the trust of the electorate then Labour must have a progressive and bold policy agenda in touch with the concerns of working people. I believe that local members through the National Policy Forum have a crucial role to play in this.
I think we will win the next general election. To do it though, we’re going to need a manifesto that it full of ideas and new thinking. The goal is simple: everyone who can work with a job, no child left behind, and an NHS with a restored reputation for being the envy of the world. We’re going to have to challenge a few powerful interests – particularly those in the City, not forgetting Rupert Murdoch. Yet I’m convinced ordinary people are ready to see Labour challenging the worst excesses of predatory capitalism.
As a History teacher, I see daily the devastating reality of this government’s policies, from the broken windows in my classroom to young people robbed of aspiration. As a member of the Education Policy Commission on the NPF, I have helped establish Labour Teachers – a grassroots network that aims to bring teachers together to influence education policy. It’s through these sorts of initiatives, use of new media and genuine member engagement that we will formulate a strong policy agenda.
Regional reps are the ones that need to make the case for party members’ views and ensure all ideas get listened to and included. That happens in lots of ways from organising regional policy events to visiting CLPs, reporting back and attending meetings of the NPF.
It’s important we have a radical, progressive, election-winning set of policies. If you have ideas for what our next manifesto should look like, then please share them with me at firstname.lastname@example.org and if you are a West Midlands member then I hope you will consider using one of your votes to support me.
Steph Peacock is Vice-Chair of Labour Teachers and a National Policy Forum Representative for the West Midlands (@Steph_Peacock)