Monday, December 01, 2008

Thoughts from the Progress Conference

Last Saturday I attended the Progress conference, it's an interesting one for me since my instincts tend to be a good deal to the left of Progress for most things. All in all though it was quite an interesting conference. Over the next couple of weeks I'll try to write some posts on the subjects covered.
A few initial thoughts:
  • Gordon's appearance was a pleasant surprise, his speech was it has to be said not the most astounding but the question and answer session was very much appreciated.
  • James Purnell suggested that a key part of New Labour was about ends and means, he suggested that the means be pragmatic and not be limited by ideology. A decent enough idea, but in my opinion open to more than a little criticism.
  • There seems to me to be a contradiction in the ideas of a "Rejection of Protectionism" and an "Activist State" both mentioned in Purnell's speech.
  • In the dicussion on immigration, I was immensely impressed by Fiona McTaggart MP, she has a very no nonsense attitude and also seems to have a preference for policies that work. She was also the only person on the panel to bring up the consequences of migration to the originating country.
  • I was once again impressed by David Lammy MP, I have heard him speak now on two occasions and he has come across both times as intelligent, passionate and articulate. I do believe that he is the closest thing we have to a British Obama.
  • From what was said Ed Milliband and Peter Mandelson have some kind of very impressive green industrial strategy in the pipeline, I do hope that it lives up to expectations.
  • I was unimpressed by the attitude towards the left expressed by Hazel Blears, particularly Compass. At a time where the Labour party is altogether feeling more unified and comfortable with itself I felt that this kind of attitude was uncalled for I get the impression that I wasn't alone in this opinion.
  • Some of the discussion also seemed a little too fluffy for my liking, I like both the ideas of greater community empowerment and co-operatives but find discussion on the subject a little pointless if it contains no clear idea as to how to encourage them.


Altogether New Labour seems to be pulling in a lot of different directions. Some (such as Hazel Blears) seem to sticking to New Labour circa 1997, others (such as David Lammy, Peter Mandelson, Charles Clarke and Ed Milliband) appear to be looking towards a genuine evolution in New Labour. An evolution where the state will take a far more active role. In my view, this can only be a good thing.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Peter Mandelson, friend of the Royals and the mega rich, pro hunting and altogether the epitome of New Labour. Awful.