Welcome to the review of our year on Progress
Most progressives are glad to see the back of 2016. It has been a disastrous year in so many ways. Everyone will have their personal lows – the poor deal that David Cameron present to the public making Brexit more likely, Labour coming third in Scotland despite promises that Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership would turn it around, the United Kingdom voting to leave the European Union, watching Bernie Sanders and his team attack relentlessly the first woman to stand for US president, supporters of Donald Trump shouting ‘lock her up’ or Hillary Clinton losing to that demagogue.
For me it was the political assassination of Jo Cox. The pain of her husband, children, family and friends is still unimaginable. To be cut down in her prime is an injustice in itself. Jo was an exceptional member of parliament because her passion was so revealing. She showed public service at it best from a group so often derided as self serving. She was murdered doing what all of her colleagues do – serving their constituents in local surgeries and advice centres. Her particular brand of determination and passion means an act that of wickedness inspired an outpouring of love. Her family and friends will miss her companionship and generosity but those of us in politics know every day we miss the causes she would otherwise have championed. Labour is poorer for it but so too is the country. Our thoughts are still with Brendan and her two children.
The highlight of the year is undoubtedly Sadiq Khan becoming mayor of London. He worked hard and was well deserving of the post and every day he is in office he is showing the change that Labour can make when it wins things. He does us proud. Alongside this sit Zac Goldsmith being beaten twice in the same year – let us hope that Conservative Central Office and Tory candidates learn the right lessons: dog whistle politics has no place in UK elections.
Almost every other political party changed their leader in 2016, but not Labour. We continue to be led by someone who shows no interest in uniting the party, barely appears in public when not campaigning for himself and despite nearly 100 days into his second leadership has fleshed out no policy offer for the country. Being ‘anti-austerity’ remains empty rhetoric, his much trumpeted National Education Service campaign pledge has no more meat on the bones and the supposed ‘election footing’ the party is on has led to no organisers being recruited for marginal seats but motions by Momentum to deselect Labour MPs. The wheels have come off the project – and people are starting to realise. The clash between the Trotskyists (Laura Murray’s term) and the ‘alt-Stalinist’ (the Trotskyists’ term) within Jeremy Corbyn’s outrider group Momentum has come to an ugly crescendo – so much so the Labour leader has had to wade in on the side of the Jon Lansman/Stop the War faction over his friends in the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty, so-called Labour Representation Committee and the Fire Brigades Union. It’s all very messy.
Change will not be forthcoming, however, until we, the moderates and the modernisers, have something inspiring to say. This is where Progress and other groups on the left that care about ideas come in. We must be intellectually curious, ambitious for what our politics can achieve and find a way to align what the party believes, the country needs and the public wants. We must stop seeing this as compromising – being in opposition is what comprises our values – but as building a permission politics that will take Britain with us.
Finally, our work with our friends at Labour First is more important than ever. If you want be part of the solution we need two things – people to stay in Labour and get themselves or good comrades as delegates to Labour party conference. The hard-left are still intent on changing our party out of recognition – we cannot let them.
Fingers crossed that 2017 will be better. As my colleague Conor Pope argues the next 12 months ‘might not be the recovery progressives were hoping for but it could show a corner has been turned’.
Thank you for being a member, subscriber or friend of Progress and the work we do – I hope 2017 sees you get involved some more.
Richard Angell is director of Progress
NEWS, EVENTS AND CAMPAIGNS
PROGRESS STRATEGY BOARD ELECTION
This year the election to the Progress strategy board took place. Elected in the parliamentarians’ section were: Gloria De Piero MP, Peter Mandelson, Alison McGovern MP and Phil Wilson MP. Elected in the councillors’ section were: Theo Blackwell, Paul Brant, Joanne Harding and Rachael Saunders. Elected in the members’ section were: Christabel Cooper, Sheila Gilmore, Allen Simpson and Mary Wimbury. Elected in the 23 and under section were: Marian Craig and Samantha Jury-Dada.
This is our most diverse board to date and shows our politics at its best – living the politics we believe in and focused on the future.
PROGRESS FOR SADIQ
Progress was out campaigning for Sadiq Khan and Labour’s London assembly candidates on the #labourdoorstep in every corner of London – as well as making the case for Sadiq Khan in the pages of our magazine and on our website. April’s editorial – ‘Khan and must’ – called on Londoners to reject the politics of hate and place Khan, the first Muslim mayor of a major Western city, in City Hall.
You can catch up with the Progress team’s efforts for Sadiq here
PROGRESS ANNUAL CONFERENCE
In May, Progress held its annual conference – bringing together figures from across the party to discuss how to place Labour on the path to government. The keynote speech was delivered by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn MP and – as ever – Progress Question Time proved to be wildly popular.
You can watch the events from the main hall, including the keynote speech and Question Time event, here.
This year Progress held the first Governing for Britain conference. Leading figures from local government, such as Joe Anderson, Richard Leese, Marvin Rees, Robin Wales, Sarah Hayward, Peter John, Claire McCarthy, Stephen Cowan, Jas Athwal, Rachael Saunders, Peter Lamb, Tom Beattie, Alice Perry and others joined us to discuss Labour’s record of success in local government and how the national party could learn from it.
INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY SPECIAL
March’s edition of Progress magazine – timed to coincide with International Women’s Day 2016 – was guest edited by comedian and former special adviser Ayesha Hazarika, featuring leading female voices from politics, business, industry and culture, such as Rachel Reeves MP, Frances O’Grady, Gaby Hinsliff and Ellie Groves. You can download read the International Women’s Day Special here.
Progress director Richard Angell‘s podcast with Hazarika – in which they discuss the special edition – can be listened to here
A ‘Post pink bus politics: How does Labour speak to women again?’ event at Labour party conference, with Hazarika, Alison McGovern MP, Thangam Debonnaire MP and Emma Burnell built on the themes contained in our International Women’s Day Special. You can listen to it here.
REMEMBERING JO COX
Tragically, this year saw the assassination of much-loved Labour MP Jo Cox. Jo was taken from us for believing in an outward-looking, tolerant Britain. Not a day goes by that Jo’s absence is not felt by those that knew and loved her.
Remembering Jo Cox One of Labour’s brightest lights has been extinguished, lamented Richard Angell
The Last Word: An emerging greatness Jo Cox made a remarkable difference to the world, inside and outside of parliament, wrote Jamie Reed MP
EUROPEAN UNION REFERENDUM
Progress played a leading role in the European Union referendum, making an unashamed pro-European case in our magazine and online, as well as pounding the pavements throughout the referendum to take these arguments directly to the electorate.
Nothing leftwing about leaving In June, the Progress editorial took on those that argued Britain could forge a more progressive future outside of the European Union
Labour must remain Remain Britain must leave the European Union, but Labour must rebuild the case for Britain’s membership of the neighbourhood of nations, July’s Progress editorial argued
PROGRESS AT LABOUR PARTY CONFERENCE 2016
Progress held 11 fringe events at this year’s Labour party conference in Liverpool, including an unmissable Progress rally chaired by Peter Kyle MP with speeches from Richard Angell, Bex Bailey, Hilary Benn MP, Ben Bradshaw MP, Kezia Dugdale MSP, Caroline Flint MP, John Hannett, Sarah Hayward, Tristram Hunt MP, Liz Kendall MP, Alison McGovern MP, John Park, Jonathan Reynolds MP, Wes Streeting MP and Robbie Young.
You can listen all of the Progress events in Liverpool, including the Progress rally, on our Labour party conference playlist here.
#StayInLabour was the clarion call for moderates in 2016 – a Progress-organised campaign to convince disaffected members not to leave the party earned widespread support in all corners of Labour’s broad church, including figures such as Peter Mandelson, the TSSA’s Manuel Cortes, Liz Kendall MP, and the Guardian’s Owen Jones.
It’s my party, I’ll stay if I want to #StayInLabour because leaving is exactly what the hard-left wants you to do, wrote Labour Tomorrow director Nicola Murphy
Battling for my identity Liron Velleman called on moderates to #StayInLabour to support Jewish Labour members
You can read the other #StayInLabour pieces published while at Labour party conference here.
IN PROGRESS MAGAZINE AND ONLINE
Permission politics They key to Labour’s revival lays in a politics of permission, not an obsession with the centre ground, the Progress editorial argued in November
‘Clause One socialists’ will win the day Shortly before the results of the leadership election, the Progress editorial called on those committed to a parliamentary route to socialism to stay and fight for the soul of the party
Time to stop blaming the media If you do not like what the press is writing, do not reach for Leveson – make better stories
Jamie Reed MP and Richard Angell continued the Last Word column, holding both the Tories’ and Momentum’s feet to the fire in some of the year’s most read articles.
This year saw two new columnists writing for Progress – from strategy board member Christabel Cooper and former national secretary of Labour Students Grace Skelton. In each edition of Progress magazine, we will track the economic impact of Britain’s vote to leave the European Union in our new BrexitWatch column.
Rage against the machine The battle to come is not the usual bureaucratic bust-up
Brexit means Brexit Britain cannot avoid living with its consequences
Wake up sheeple! The era of post-truth politics is now in full swing
The new economy Frances O’Grady and Claire McCarthy on the place of trade unionism and co-operation in the 21st century economy
Movement politics Should Labour back restrictions on freedom of movement of people? Renie Anjeh and Ellie Groves debate
Back to college Should Labour return to using the three-part electoral college system in its leadership elections? Anna Turley MP and Jonathan Reynolds MP debate
Letter from … Vienna How is Labour’s sister party faring in grand coalition? asked Philip Novak
Letter from … Bergen Fiona Twycross AM reflects on the lessons for the European Union referendum from Norway
Letter from … Montreal Recovery is going to take leadership and honesty, Policy Network director Matthew Laza
Don’t accept this new, ‘new normal’ Labour’s six-year slide damages not just the party but the country, argued Adam Harrison
The art of opposition Theresa May is not invincible. Here’s how to oppose her, wrote Jacqui Smith
Concrete action needed Time for the hedging on antisemitism in Labour to end, argued Richard Angell
Alice in Westminster: The political life of Alice Bacon Rachel Reeves’ book shines a light on one of Labour’s forgotten heroes, argues Joyce Gould
Zac versus Sadiq: The Fight to Become London Mayor Sadiq richly deserved his victory, as his competence in office these first months confirmed, observed Karen Buck MP
Citizen Clem: A biography of Attlee For Attlee, socialism and patriotism were inextricable, wrote Nick Garland
CARTOONS ON PROGRESS
Cartoonist Adrian Teal captured some of the moments of the year for The Insider column
View them all here
‘London’s shop steward’ The soon-to-be mayor of London Sadiq Khan talks to Richard Angell and Adam Harrison, and he is hungry for new power
‘We’re not holding back’ ‘Anti-austerity politics is now the centre-ground of Scottish politics’, Kezia Dugdale tells Ayesha Hazarika
‘Don’t leave’ Now more than ever, Labour needs its members to get stuck in, Neil Kinnock tells Richard Angell and Adam Harrison
Asset-stripping Labour Momentum is a party waiting to leave a party, argues Richard Angell
Rallies do not win general elections Ian McKenzie reflected on his time as a Bennite in the 1980\
Not a penny for the NHS The autumn statement proved that the Tories cannot be trusted with the NHS, wrote Jon Ashworth MP
Solidarity … but with who? Jeremy Corbyn let down women everywhere by appearing at a Socialist Worker’s Party front event, argued Grace Skelton
Tackling antisemitism is not a zero-sum game Mike Katz calls for zero tolerance of antisemitism within the party days after being heckled at Labour party conference
Unity should earned, not demanded Too many of the calls for unity are in reality commands to be silent, with the implicit threat of deselection as motivation to obey, wrote Christabel Cooper
Thanks to everyone who has been part of an extraordinary year in the history of the Labour party. We look forward to working with you all again in 2016.
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2016 has been a particularly bruising year for progressives – but, as our new deputy editor Conor Pope wrote for Progress magazine, 2017 may well prove to be a turning point. In order for Progress to be able to put on thought-provoking discussions and training events around the country, we need the support of our members.
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