Young progressives column

Playing down the record

First published on Progressonline in the Young progressives column

Judging by David Cameron’s performance at PMQs, the union movement must be braced for a forthright attack if the Tories were to win the next general election.

Yesterday at the Unions 21 annual conference there was much debate about the last 13 years and the improvements for working people. A number of comrades at the Compass fringe were in full flow as they attacked Labour for doing too little and playing down the excellent advances that have been made for people at work.

Yesterday – the day of the conference – was the tenth anniversary of statutory recognition brought in by the government. We have also seen the UK sign up to the social chapter, four weeks’ paid holiday plus bank holidays, increased maternity and paternity rights, union recognition at GCHQ and tribunals strengthened. Not to mention the rafts of equality legislation and protection from victimisation for being a trade union member. (more…)

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Votes at 16 – an idea that made its case

First published on Progressonline in the Young progressives column

Following the UK Youth Parliament’s both historic and impressive performance in the House of Commons two weeks ago, the prime minister was asked if he supported lowering the voting age to 16. To my surprise, he pledged his support for the policy but said yet more consultation was needed.

Following the UK Youth Parliament’s both historic and impressive performance in the House of Commons two weeks ago, the prime minister was asked if he supported lowering the voting age to 16. To my surprise, he pledged his support for the policy but said yet more consultation was needed. (more…)

With spending cuts ahead Labour must be honest with the electorate and follow three guiding principles to set us apart from the Tories

First published on Progressonline in the Young progressives column

The result in Norwich North is yet further confirmation that Labour’s Mr 10% campaigns and the investment vs cuts message is going down like a lead balloon. It finally appears that Lord Mandelson and others are trying to manoeuvre a new message, so what should it be?

The public have a strong sense that the public finances are in bad way (whether we got there for good or bad reasons) and that someone will need to make the difficult choices to put them back on track. Cameron plays to the reality for most British families who have to live within their means and resonates with those who personally borrowed too much and feel punished as they desperately try and bring their personal debt into manageable and sustainable measures. Their view is that the government should do the same. (more…)

A new speaker for new times

First published on Progressonline in the Young progressives column

The public want to see parliament led by someone remarkably different from those who have gone before. Someone who can start afresh and develop a new parliamentary democracy without secrecy and complexity.

The prime minister described the Commons as working like an old gentleman’s club. This damning analysis of the status quo illustrates the need for the forum of the people to look and sound more like the British people and embrace openness and real transparency. It requires a modernity that the Scottish, Welsh and London devolved structures have enthused since their creation. It most of all demands a person of stature and standing who can symbolise the phoenix from the ashes. (more…)

Stop homophobic hatred: don’t let the Tories wreck Clause 58

First published on Progressonline in the Young progressives column

The third reading of the Justice and Coroners Bill is set for the Commons on Monday. Clause 58 will re-instate the incitement to homophobia legislation and remove the Lord Waddington amendment that give fanatics a legal protection to their bigotry

The bill will outlaw hate speech that calls for the raping and murder of lesbian, gay and bisexual people, it condemns rap lyrics that inspire violence and cuts off at the source those who encourage bullying of LGB children in our schools. The “incitement” context, like with race and religion, sets the bar very high. The legal threshold for a conviction has only been reached on the rarest of occasions. The public benefit must be strong and the attorney general must sign off on the CPS’ intervention. This will not mean jokes, or that bible quotes will be ruled out of order, but only the words of those who want to see hurt and destruction. (more…)

Top-up fees should be rebranded not reviewed

First published on Progressonline in the Young progressives column

Sarah Mullholland writing for the newest addition to the blogosphere, Labour List, initiated a debate on the future of our higher education sector. Due in 2009 is the government’s review of the controversial variable fees that were introduced in the last Higher Education Act that passed by a mere five votes.

While I still have huge reservations about fees – NUS have set out an excellent analysis of the current situation in their report “Broke and Broken” – I have never had a problem about a student contribution while free at the point of use. I think many other opponents of fees have been pleasantly surprised that still more students and fractionally more poorer students go to university. What I really wonder is how many more might have gone if the fear of massive debt had not been a prohibitive barrier? (more…)

Sex and relationship education will enable young people to make informed choices

First published on Progressonline in the Young progressives column

The government in its wisdom last week announced that sex and relationship education will be a compulsory part of the school curriculum. This is fantastic news for young people and Britain more widely.

The reviewed guidance and the addition of compulsion are welcome steps in their own right and will do lots to help combat unintended teenage pregnancies, the sexual health epidemic we are facing and the low esteem of particularly young women and gay men that means people feel they cannot say ‘no’. (more…)

Neighbourhood watch

First published on Progressonline in the Young progressives column

It is time for the Labour party to appoint a vice-chair to champion community involvement.

A year ago, Gordon Brown had his so-called ‘Clause IV moment’ with the unions, making radical changes to the Labour party’s constitution and decisively leading the party into a new era. Building on the creation of party vice-chairs, he sought to modernise our structures and get local parties consulting their communities. (more…)

Votes at 16 would allow young people to defend their public services at the ballot box

First published on Progressonline in the Young progressives column

The National Policy forum in its wisdom has voted to recommend to Labour party conference that reducing the voting age to 16 be in the next Labour manifesto. This has started a lively debate in the party and the country at large – one that we should all welcome and get on board with.

(more…)

The truth behind the Tories’ pro-gay rhetoric

First published on Progressonline in the Young progressives column

The Tories have been falling over themselves to demonstrate their new ‘pro-gay’ credentials as a symbol that they are no longer the nasty party. But it is on their more recent record that they should be judged.

Many gay people will never forget that Tory Hate made Section 28, but people cannot deny that the rhetoric at least has changed – Cameron will do interviews with Gay Times, Boris will attend Pride. Though their words have altered, the lobby door they walk through has not! (more…)