Comments on the National Policy Forum report 2018
There is a lot of criticism of the current system along with "meetings with", "submissions from" and "discussions about" but it would have been very helpful if the Forum had produced a few bullet point recommendations at the start.
Recommendations are not policies, they are not frozen in time and they can be changed.
There would be no harm in the Policy Forum making recommendations, after all, they have heard lots of evidence and had lots of discussions - so there must be things they think worth recommending.
Recommendations give the rest of us something to hang on to as we start discussions - referring back to the detailed evidence in the report as and when required. That's what one should expect in an organisation run in a business-like way.
Most LP members will not sit down to read a 146 page report, they have busy lives. They need bullet point recommendations or an "executive summary".
Not having recommendations makes the report a real pain.
You don't have to be an old lefty to ask: "what is to be done?" - what "specifically" do we intend to do to make things better in the interests of the many not the few.
Lots of the material is unobjectionable and well-meaning but that does not help to create policies.
One random unhelpful example
"Reform of domestic agricultural policy as (sic)a unique opportunity to put in place the foundations that will deliver a sustainable, profitable and progressive farming and horticulture sector.
Farming's future must be at the heart of a dynamic and resilient UK food chain, respected and rewarded both for the food we produce and the public goods we deliver for all parts of society."
Evidence from the National Farmers' Union (NFU)
Our immediate response is: " ... and ...?"
What, specifically, are they recommending the LP to do?
We don't understand why taxation is left out of the report since it is the only source of government income and determines what any future government can do. "How are you going to pay for it?" has always been the major criticism of Labour.
The way we tackle taxation has a profound effect on "For the many not the few" - leaving it out makes a fantasy of any other aspirations. We can only spend what we take in tax, what we borrow or what we print.
We have been through the report to bring out specific recommendations and we have included a few comments.
- National Education Service was what the (Conservative) 1944 Education Act was all about.
- A "Charter" is an aspiration (which is nice) - it is not an action plan.
- Commission proposed on curriculum and assessment.
- Improved early years provision. (How?)
- Parity between academic and vocational education.
- National negotiation of teacher pay and conditions.
- Opposition to more grammar schools - but no mention of secondary moderns or implementing a truly comprehensive system.
Economy, business and trade
- Worker representation on boards of large (how large?) companies.
- Public ownership of utilities, mail and transport infrastructure
- Support for cooperatives. Swann Morton (scalpels, Sheffield) is a good industrial example.
Providing help to set them up and advice on running them is fine but it should not result in subsidising one group of workers to the detriment of others.
- Action on late payment.
- Review of corporate governance.
- No mention of UK companies to be preferred in all contracts funded by taxpayers. Yes, it can be done under EU law - the Germans and French do it.
Environment, energy, culture
See our separate page on Labour in rural areas.
- Commitment to insulate low-income houses better.
- "Clarity to the renewables sector". (What clarity?)
- New Clean Air Act
Health and social care
- Return NHS contracts to the NHS.
- It's all about money - while reducing waste and improving the efficient use of resources.
Why do we still allow salaried NHS doctors to have private practices?
We need to train more doctors and nurses tied to the NHS to pay for their education. The BMA is sometimes a negative factor here.
We need an open attitude towards recruiting NHS staff from overseas.
Housing, Local Government and Transport
- "Affordable housing" and "affordable rent" - still to be defined.
- Plan to build 1,000,000 affordable houses over 10 years.
- Cap on rents.
- End "no fault" evictions.
- Safety fund for social housing for inspections, sprinklers etc.
- Task force on ending rough sleeping. 8,000 homes for those with a history of rough sleeping.
- Railways to be brought under public ownership.
- Free bus passes for those under 26.
- LAs to have more control over bus services.
- No mention of the positive effect LVT would have on housing.
- Proposal for a Global Equality Summit.
- Sustainable Development Goals at heart of aid policy.
- Brexit: still vague and aspirational.
- Still support for a two state solution in Israel/Palestine.
Has no one looked at a settlement map? A quick look shows that a two state solution is impossible because of "facts on the ground".
The only realistic solution is "a single state with freedom and justice for all" - to be called both Israel/Palestine and Palestine/Israel.
- Defence and shipbuilding contracts to go to UK companies.
Justice and Home Affairs
A blanket demand to return all private prisons to public control ignores the realities.
There are good and bad public prisons and good and bad private prisons.
There are some private prisons which are excellent and which could be an example to other prisons.
The history of prisons under public control has been a bad one and the POA does not have a good historical record.
- Return all probation work to the National Probation Service.
- Implement the recommendations of the Lammy report.
- Decriminalise abortion in Northern Ireland.
Work, Pensions and Equality
All a bit woolly or covered elsewhere.