A universal childcare service, new rights for victims of crime and parents with children in failing schools, directly elected mayors for England’s big cities, and ‘Hasbos’ to tackle antisocial neighbours are among the proposals set out by a group of Labour modernisers in a new collection of essays published on 15 September 2011.
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The authors of The Purple Book include current members of Ed Miliband‘s frontbench team Liam Byrne, Douglas Alexander, Caroline Flint, Tessa Jowell and Ivan Lewis and former cabinet ministers Peter Mandelson, Alan Milburn, Jacqui Smith and Andrew Adonis. They are joined by a host of the party’s rising stars including Jenny Chapman, Tristram Hunt, Rachel Reeves, Liz Kendall, Stephen Twigg and John Woodcock. Others include Cllrs Paul Brant, Patrick Diamond and Steve Reed, Paul Richards and Progress director, Robert Philpot.
Each has written a chapter focusing on a different area of policies for the future of the country, including the economy, public services, welfare and crime.
The key themes are that for Labour to win the next election it must regain its economic credibility, have a credible programme of reform for public institutions, and capture the imaginations of the majority of Britons to want to get on in life and see their families prosper. The book explores how Labour’s decentralist tradition can help it in an age of austerity, when there isn’t the money available for a central government programme for every problem facing society, and argues for the state to become more efficient and devolved, with more local ownership and control of local services and assets.
Instead of a re-run of 2010, or even 1997, the Purple Book is all about Labour’s offer at the next election and beyond. Reflecting the themes of Ed Miliband’s leadership, the book seeks to explore how we build a ‘something for something’ welfare state and a more balanced economy; tackle the new inequality and the ‘care crunch’ affecting the ‘squeezed middle’; and further social mobility so that future generations can realise the ‘promise of Britain’.
In his foreword Ed Miliband writes:
‘A common theme across these challenges is that we will need to take on some of the powerful vested interests in our country. That is, in fact, where we have always been strongest as a political party. Learning from our history in government and daring to change the way we do politics is not easy. I know many will find this path uncomfortable and unfamiliar. But that is why I welcome, and take encouragement from, the debates being opened up in this book.‘