Progress Online

Articles by Richard Angell that appear on ProgressOnline

May in meltdown

First published on Progress Online for The Last Word

May’s weakness exposed, leadership in local government and an impressive start for Open Labour – Progress director Richard Angell has this week’s Last Word

The Tories in 2015 told Britain not to vote Labour because Ed Miliband would be a disaster for the economy and he would be pushed around by Nicola Sturgeon. If it was not for the fact that the National Health Service was in crisis and the government’s only idea for improving schools is to bring back grammars, you might have to pinch yourself to remember who won. 

The morning after Sturgeon ambushed the country and announced her intention to legislate for a second referendum on Scottish independence, the Times ran with a government source saying: ‘This timing is completely unacceptable … it would be irresponsible to agree to it and we won’t.’ If half of what the first minister said about being kept in the dark about how Brexit might proceed is true, the fault in many ways lies with Theresa May and her operation in No 10. 

May likes to maintain that her ‘thoughtful’ style is a strength and shows that she is considered. It is anything but. The weakness of No 10 and her inability to know her own mind is why so much of Brexit is still unclear and why she cannot show her own colleagues, let alone parliament or the devolved administrations, the respect and consideration they deserve.  (more…)

March to save the NHS

First published on Progress Online for The Last Word

Save our NHS, time to speak truth to power on Copeland, gongs gone wrong and thank Lord for the upper house – Progress director Richard Angell has this week’s Last Word

Tomorrow I, along with thousands of other Labour activists, will be taking to the street to defend our National Health Service. As shadow health secretary Jon Ashworth put it, ‘the NHS is going through the biggest financial squeeze in its history’ – and Saturday is our opportunity to call on the government to do something about it. A national social care crisis has brought social care to its knees, crippling local government, and forcing the Red Cross to describe the situation in Britain’s health service as a ‘humanitarian crisis’.

There are those that would seek to convince you that these pressures were inevitable – that, had Labour won the last election, these issues would have devilled Ed Miliband and Andy Burnham as they do Theresa May and Jeremy Hunt. They are wrong. Britain’s health and social care problems are a direct result of seven years of chronic underfunding – a political choice. Each of us has a duty to hold the Tories to account. However, Labour wanting to defend the NHS with every sinew did not save use in Copeland and it will not save us nationally. Hopefully, our actions can save it.

I hope you will be joining me this weekend. (more…)

Byelection battles

First published on Progressonline for ‘the Last Word’

The final furlong in Copeland and Stoke, the McDonnell amendment and a cutting Brexit intervention by Tony Blair – Richard Angell has this week’s Last Word

Theresa May cannot even back her own policies in Copeland and Paul Nuttall has a problem with the truth in Stoke-on-Trent Central. Labour is set to win both next Thursday. Taking nothing for granted, I will be out in the latter on Sunday and hope you can join me. It is not over until it is over. 

Last week I wrote ‘it seems more important to [Copeland] voters that they save the hospital rather than the Labour party’. If this was wishful thinking by Labour, May has given the choice a huge boost. Considering the prime minister has centuries-long conventions on her side – broken only by Gordon Brown in Glenrothes – the only reason for her to appear in Copeland is to stop the closure of maternity services or defend her cuts to the National Health Service. To stonewall a ITV interviewer is the worst of all worlds, but you will find no complaints here! Paul Waugh at the Huffington Post suggested if Labour wins it will be ‘Theresa what won it’. When voters read the front page of the local paper – the lady’s not for talking – they will not be lost for words. 

(more…)

Divisions over divisions

First published on Progressonline for ‘the Last Word’

Article 50 has plunged Labour into the thick of the controversy of leaving the European Union this week. The very issue Labour could once use to divide the Tory party leaves Labour looking like they are all over the place. The vacuum in leadership allows a three line whip – aimed to indicate understanding of how 17 million people voted – to be characterised as a blank check for Theresa May’s hard Brexit.

The leadership of the party, has for once, recognised the important of being in touch with majority opinion in Britain. Yet it is Jeremy Corbyn’s close allies – both in parliament and outside – that seem to understand his position least. In fact, many of those who berated the ‘coupists’ last summer are now the ones walking off Corbyn’s frontbench or leaving the party all together. Labour members of parliament – from all wings – have got to do right my their conscience and their constituents. We should respect how they each vote, despite our deep felt feeling about how we wish the voted had gone last June. (more…)

The class pay gap

First published on Progressonline for ‘the Last Word’

Alan Milburn leading the way on social mobility, Clive Lewis’ campaign team, May’s US speech and Holocaust Memorial Day  – Richard Angell has this week’s Last Word

Alan Milburn is doing the Labour party’s job for it … again. His work on social mobility continues to chart a path towards achieving Labour’s historic mission: breaking the link between the postcode you are born into and where you end up in life. In fact, few in Labour other than Milburn have looked seriously at how to tackle social mobility in the United Kingdom. The only exception I can think of is Tristram Hunt’s work on character education, that he commended back to the party in his recent letter resigning from the House of Commons. Based on a report commissioned by the all-party parliamentary group on social mobility and conducted by the Education Policy Institute. Ed Miliband, who never gave a speech on the issue or primary or secondary education in all the time her was leader of the opposition, had such low regard for the issue ‘there was more in Labour’s 2015 manifesto on handrails in old people’s homes than education’, an extremely frustrated Hunt told a post-general election Progress audience. (more…)

It’s ‘game on’

First published on Progressonline for ‘the Last Word’

Byelection dates confirmed in Copeland and Stoke, Trump confirmed as president, and Theresa May’s ‘hard Brexit’ speech – Richard Angell looks at the events of the week

The writ will be put down for both Copeland and Stoke-on-Trent Central on Monday for an byelection on 23 February 2017. My colleague Matthew Faulding has already been on the Labour doorstep in the former, I look forward to joining the Labour and Progress members that are out day-in-day-out very soon. (more…)

The wrong Jeremy

First published on Progressonline for ‘the Last Word’

The NHS crisis, progressive alliance ploys and Momentum purges – Progress director Richard Angell has this week’s Last Word

Toby Perkins’ speech to the House of Commons this week on the death of his father was not only a brave personal intervention, but also an important contribution to the debate around the National Health Service. That the story he tells comes from the summer of 2016 shows that the current winter crisis in the NHS is no one-off. It is the result of years of Tory mismanagement, of ill-thought through reorganisation and failure to deliver the funding it needs. (more…)

May’s muddled thinking

First published on Progressonline for ‘the Last Word’

Theresa May had a pretty bad start to the year with resignation of Sir Ivan Rogers as the United Kingdom’s ambassador to the European Union. It was unfortunate for her that his email to all staff was leaked to the media. His warning about ‘muddled thinking’ should be a theme that the Labour leader – were he to comment on such matters – should pick up on and repeat over and over. May has now made Tim Barrow pretty much unsackable as he takes up his new post in Brussels. The prime minister is due to make a big speech on Brexit in the coming weeks. The Guardian’s cartoonist Ben Jennings sums up her known position extremely well. (more…)