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Bridgit Phillipson MP, Paul Gilfillan

Spring / Summer 2015

North East Combined Authority’s resolution in favour of re-regulation of local bus services offers a better deal for passengers and taxpayers. The consequences could have significant implications for the future of public services.

Since her election as MP for Wigan in 2010, Lisa Nandy has become a prominent advocate for an emerging strain of pluralist, communitarian Labour politics. James Stafford met Nandy at Westminster at the start of the year, to discuss Labour’s developing agenda and prospects for government in 2015.

Political parties are, it goes without saying, formed out of agreement between members. But to be really successful the extent and intensity of that agreement has to be just right. Too much and a party will have limited appeal; it will be cult-like, brittle and prone to splitting. Too little and a party will attract self-promoting people and pet causes, making things fractious and difficult to manage.

Modern monetary theory destroys the intellectual basis for austerity but needs a more robust political economy.

The early career of Clement Attlee reminds us that the welfare state was never intended to stand alone as a set of institutions. Its stability depends upon a set of ethical, economic, and political foundations.

Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century (Piketty, 2014) is the most talked about work of political economy to have appeared in recent years, if not decades. Martin O’Neill of Renewal and Juncture’s Nick Pearce interviewed Professor Piketty on a recent visit to London.

The financial crisis has transformed the debate over Scottish independence – to the disadvantage of the SNP.

The origins and implications of the left’s dalliance with Scottish independence.

If you are in need of a doorstop, look no further. At 675 pages, an inch and a quarter thick, and three pounds in weight, the SNP’s independence manifesto, Scotland’s Future, will do that job admirably. Whether it also meets its stated aim of being ‘Your Guide to an Independent Scotland’ is another matter entirely.

For social democrats, the post-war years are usually seen as halcyon days. Across the Western world, including the United Kingdom, societies became healthier, wealthier and more equal. Inequalities were compressed as the dynamism of industrial capitalism was harnessed by the state – both national and local – and by strong trade unions, in the interests of the many not the few.

Everyone knows that it’s not what’s being said about the political issues that matters. It’s what can be said. Yes, politics is about ‘credibility’ and even more so about what is defined as ‘credibility’. Ed Miliband doesn’t look like a Prime Minister. He never will, unless the idea of what a Prime Minister is changes.

Public policies for private corporations: the British corporate welfare state

With the clock ticking down to the next election the Labour Party faces big questions about how to construct an attractive, plausible alternative to the politics of the Coalition. It needs a narrative which blames the economic crash of 2008-12 on unfet- tered capitalism rather than alleged Labour profligacy, but more than that it needs a vision of the future that can capture voters’ imagination and persuade them that Labour can make a difference in tough times.

In 1994 Dan Corry wrote an article in Renewal on the shape of Labour’s macroeconomic policy (Corry, 1994). After almost twenty years it is striking how relevant much of the article still feels. The original piece was entitled ‘Living with capitalism’ but today’s Labour economic policy appears to have moved beyond simply living with capitalism and is setting out an active agenda of how to change and shape it.

Jacob Hacker interviewed by Ben Jackson and Martin O’Neill. The American political scientist Jacob Hacker has been catapulted into the heart of British political debate as a result of Ed Miliband’s prominent endorsement of Hacker’s idea of 'predistribution'. Hacker is a distinguished and influential scholar of public policy and American politics, who has also been closely involved in public debates in the United States on issues such as health-care reform and welfare policy.


Frances O'Grady, Sarah Hutchinson, Florence Sutcliffe-Braithwaite

Summer / Autumn 2013

Frances O’Grady interviewed by Sarah Hutchinson and Florence Sutcliffe Braithwaite

The early British New Left – a vibrant activist and intellectual current that flourished between 1956 and 1963 and whose brief lifespan encompassed the early careers of many of the most important British socialist intellectuals of the last half-century – has made an unexpected recent return to the political stage.

This essay is about the first New Left and Blue Labour. They are both examples of emergent currents of thinking and action at times of political hiatus on the left. In this hiatus what counts is not policy but the energy of emerging political moods and intellectual currents. They begin to re-orientate thinking and action, reconfiguring existing political fault- lines, and once more connecting people with political agency.