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Labour Party Conference

  • Date(s)
    26 September 2010 to 28 September 2010
  • Location
Labour Party Conference

Over the course of this year’s Labour Party Conference, Policy Network is hosting a series of fringe events revolving around the theme of how the centre-left solves the paradox facing progressives at the present political juncture: that a progressive response is urgently needed to the many challenges of the post-crisis world but that across Europe centre-left parties are in electoral retreat.

All our fringe events are taking place in Committee Room 1 at Manchester Town Hall (located just a few minutes away from the secure zone)

Sunday 26th September  
18:00 – 19:30

Southern Discomfort Again?
In 1992, Giles Radice argued in his original pamphlet, 'Southern Discomfort', that “Labour cannot win without doing better in the South.” Then, there was a profound and palpable sense of urgency about the way in which Labour had lost the general election despite leading opinion polls for several months in advance of election day. Today, the sense of urgency vis-à-vis Labour’s “Southern problem” barely figures in the debate about the party’s future.

This meeting will present and debate the findings of a new, eponymous pamphlet, co-authored by Giles Radice and former Number 10 adviser Patrick Diamond, which once again addresses the Labour party’s recurring “Southern problem”.

Speakers include:

Liam Bryne MP, shadow chief secretary to the Treasury
Patrick Diamond, senior research fellow, Policy Network

Peter Kellner, president, YouGov

Giles Radice, Labour member of the House of Lords


Monday 27th September            
08:00 – 09:30


Socially just cuts? The future of Labour tax and spend

The global response to the "credit crunch" and ensuing recession has left fiscal deficits at an all time high in the world's advanced economies. The reduction of these deficits is rightly a national priority. Nonetheless, the extent of such cuts and the mainstream consensus supporting them have profound implications for the way in which social democrats conduct our politics, not least whether we can sustain the pre-financial crisis model of tax and spend. This, in turn, impacts upon how in future social democrats achieve key strategic goals such as better public services, reducing unemployment and providing equal opportunities for all. Will social democracy need to develop a new political economy for an era of cuts and austerity?


Speakers include:

David Coats, founder and director of WorkMatters Consulting

Patrick Diamond, senior research fellow at Policy Network

Roger Liddle, chair of Policy Network

Carlos Mulas-Granados, executive director of the Ideas Foundation

Rachel Reeves, Member of Parliament
Colin Talbot, Professor of public policy at university of Manchester


Monday 27th September 2010  
18:00 – 19:30

Progressive times, conservative governments: the crisis in European social democracy

Social democracy is in crisis: it is not just electorally weak, but appears to have lost the ideological, intellectual and organisational vitality that enabled it to leave such a strong imprint on post-war Europe.  This session will seek to identify the key political and policy dilemmas the centre-left is currently facing and to confront the fundamental causes of its vulnerability, loss of trust and élan in past years.

Speakers include:

Liam Bryne MP, shadow chief secretary to the Treasury

Douglas Alexander, shadow International Development Secretary

Katrine Kielos, lead-writer for Aftonbladet, Scandanavia’s largest daily newspaper

Matthias Maching, minister in the Thuringia State Government
John McTernan, former political secretary to Tony Blair and thinker-in-residence for the Australian state of Victoria

Philip Stephens, associate editor of The Financial Times

      This event is co-hosted by Friedrich Ebert Stiftung


Tuesday 28th September 2010
08:00 – 09:30


The left's trouble with the burqa

The fringe is entitled “The burqa’s place in Europe: how should social democrats respond?” and will focus on the heated debates seen in numerous European countries over banning the full-face Islamic veil. While the British Left has tended to oppose an outright ban, the issue has raised deep divisions among social democrats throughout Europe, with some viewing the full veil as incompatible with social democratic values, and others claiming that a ban would constitute a breach of religious freedom. This division reflects a deeper failure of the Left to confront the implications of multiculturalism. With social democratic parties increasingly torn between their ‘indigenous’ working class supporters and their commitment to an open society, the issue of culture and religion has been seized by the Right.

In the absence of a coherent, let alone unified, approach among social democrats, this fringe event will explore the political dilemmas which the presence of non-Western cultures in European society raises for the Left.


Speakers include:

Denis MacShane MP, former minister for Europe

Shelina Zahra Janmohamed, commentator on British Islam and Muslim women and author of 'Love in a Headscarf'

Dominic McGoldrick professor of public international law and director of the international and european law unit, University of Liverpool

Nick Johnson principal associate at the Institute of Community Cohesion. 

Dora Kostakopoulou professor in the School of Law at the University of Manchester.
Elena Jurado, head of research, Policy Network


   This event is in partnership with the Barrow Cadbury Trust

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