The Adam Smith Institute has a new friend. After years of languishing in post-Thatcher torpor, everyone’s favourite free-marketeers have finally found a senior politician who is unafraid to take their theories seriously.
It is Michael Howard, newly-enthroned Tory leader, who has put the Adam Smith Institute’s idea of ˜tax freedom day” into the heart of his political campaigning. The idea is that for a certain period of the year, we work to pay taxes. After ˜tax freedom day” we work for ourselves.
It rests on the concept that paying taxes is a bad thing, and somehow we don’t get any benefit from the social good taxes pay for, such as roads, parks, ambulances and the police. It also rests on the idea that we should pay less tax, so that ˜tax freedom day” comes sooner.
So the Tories’ economic plans are clear: cut tax, spend less on services. The Adam Smith Institute must be rubbing their hands with glee.
The Fabian Society annual general meeting took place in November, with a debate about where Labour should head next. Clive Soley MP, former chair of the Parliamentary Labour Party, warned that Labour should not underestimate Michael Howard: ‘We did everything we could to keep IDS in office. We’ve moved the goalposts before but we moved whole football fields for him but he still couldn’t score. My message now would be: Don’t underestimate Michael Howard. You will still see a more rightwing agenda but he will be a more dangerous political opponent. The AGM saw Stephen Twigg elected as Fabian chair, the first person to have served as both chair and general secretary of the Society.
The Fabian Society’s new year conference, which usually attracts over 700 people, is called ˜The Way We Live Now” and takes place on Saturday 7 February in London. Invited speakers include Gordon Brown, Patricia Hewitt, Hazel Blears, Will Hutton, John Monks and many more. Get your tickets now from the Fabian Society.
Migration is a subject which has the tanks exercised in recent weeks.
The Fabians have published Exploding the Migration Myths jointly with Oxfam,
the Social Market Foundation hosted
a speech by Barbara Roche MP and seminar on ˜rethinking migration, and ippr’s Sarah Spencer has edited a Political Quarterly special on The politics of migration. So with luck a coherent left-of-centre analysis and response to migration is being constructed, and nasty old MigrationwatchUK can be kept off
The New Local Government Network has its second annual conference, to be held in central London on 22 January 2004. The conference, entitled ‘Decentralising government: choice, communities and the role of local authorities’ will see David Blunkett give the keynote address.
Civitas, the rightwing tank, has produced Does Marriage Matter? This argues that ‘families based on marriage are, on average, healthier, wealthier, and more stable than other family forms. Marriage is an important social good, associated with an impressively broad array of positive outcomes for children and adults alike.’ So convinced are Civitas that they are distributing thousands of copies to schools, colleges and young people in an effort to get the marriage rate up.
Don’t forget the biggest thinktank
of all, “the great British public. Labour’s Big Conversation has kicked off, with thousands of responses from people
across the UK. It may be gimmicky, it may be prone to hijack, it may be the opportunity for every racist loon in Britain to say what they think. Underneath all that is the real chance
for some good ideas to emerge, based
on the practical common sense of ‘ordinary’ people. Demos did a smaller version of the Big Conversation a few years ago, and all kinds of good ideas popped out of the nation’s heads. Let’s hope Labour’s Big Conversation leads
to some Big Ideas.
Progressive centre-ground Labour politics does not come for free.
Our work depends on you.