The Tribune Group has a long and proud history as the voice of the centre left of the Parliamentary Labour Party. 

Labour Tribune MPs want to build on that heritage by initiating policy discussions and engaging with the wider Labour movement right across the UK.  We will work with individuals and organisations that share our values and common goals, to develop ideas that will help inform and shape future debates around a wide range of policies.

» Find out more here
» Follow us on Twitter 
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  • Featured post

    Capital for the Common Good

    7pm Tuesday 2nd July in Boothroyd room, Portcullis House

    How do we make capital work for the common good, in the context of rising levels of inequality in wealth, new disruptions to the world of work - and the looming threat of climate change?

    Join us on the 2nd July as we explore what led us to where we are, and how we build a future for Britain where capital works for the common good.  

    Please RSVP here: https://www.labourtribunemps.org/capital_for_the_common_good

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  • Featured post

    Tribune Group: Labour’s British Promise

    The Tribune group of MPs want to focus debate in our party on how we grow and achieve government. To do so, we need to remember and cherish our values. Why we formed as a party. What binds us together – the values that underpin our party – and drive the focus for policy. This paper is a contribution to that debate.

    The Labour Party has been a radical force for change. The centre-left represented by the Tribune group is critical in framing the arguments that will win over traditional Labour voters and in explaining our values to those who have not voted for us in the past or have stopped seeing us as their first choice. We need to convince these people that it is our core values that they want to see applied in government.

    Many of the things that Labour has championed are the things that people expect as basic rights and expectations today – things that became integral to the British Promise. This means we need to re-establish our credentials as the party that is at the core of that British Promise: 

    • that wants to see everyone flourish and helps the next generation aspire to do better  
    • that wants everyone to live a life they have reason to value
    • recognises the mutual benefits of public and private endeavour
    • that the public interest must be expressed by a dynamic, supportive state in society and the economy
    • that is fair and is seen to be fair – on taxation, on rights and is on your side
    • which is outward looking in the world and puts security of its people at its heart  

     

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  • Latest from the blog

    Capital for the Common Good

    7pm Tuesday 2nd July in Boothroyd room, Portcullis House

    How do we make capital work for the common good, in the context of rising levels of inequality in wealth, new disruptions to the world of work - and the looming threat of climate change?

    Join us on the 2nd July as we explore what led us to where we are, and how we build a future for Britain where capital works for the common good.  

    Please RSVP here: https://www.labourtribunemps.org/capital_for_the_common_good

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    DOWNLOAD PAMPHLET

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    Clive Efford and Karen Buck on austerity

    A substantial minority- especially on the political right- never accepted the 1975 referendum as a settlement. Supported by a large part of the print media, for 40 yearsBritish political life has been accustomed to seeing ‘Brussels’ and everything emanating from, or associated with Europe routinely criticised, mocked and abused. Boris Johnson’s record as aBrussels correspondent became a byword for mendacious reporting, with the sole purpose of undermining attitudes to the EU. With the passing of the World War 2 political generation, no high moral defence has been consistently made on internationalist grounds, and even the benefits of the Single Market, negotiated by Thatcher, had to be framed by intensely negative arguments about the rebate and more. ‘Up yours, Delors’ anyone?

     

    Even the modern pro- Europeanism of 1990s/early 2000s New Labour was largely defensive in nature. No wonder, when it came to the referendum campaign, the case against wrote itself whilst pro-Europeans were left scrabbling for anything that might resonate with an electorate steeped in Euroscepticism.

     

    We know quite a lot about the characteristics of ‘leave’ voters.Educational attainment was, according to Yougov analysis, the single factor associated with a leave or remain vote, with age a close second- 64% of over 65s voted leave- with under 25s voting remain by a the same proportion; 70% of voters with GCSE qualifications or below voted leave and 68% of graduates choosing remain. In looking at how voting patterns played out across the country, these elements can’t be ignored- but they still have to be understood in a context of place, identity and what Europe clearly came to mean in terms of explaining unhappiness with the present and a hope for a different future.

     

    Britain has not been alone in struggling to come to terms with the cultural and social changes which have transformed the country over the last half century.We have seen long established patterns of working and civic life melt away, and the loss of the community elements of that life are acutely felt. Then there were large workplaces- factories, pits-with trade union organisations; churches, towns where most of the population worked where they lived; council housing and relatively low mobility. Now: whether in modern manufacturing, office, retain or leisure, work is certainly not-unionised, and is certainly less of a collective experience; worship has declined, commuting has increased, estates are multi-tenure and mobility usually greater. And whilst all this was happening, conglomerations- from banks and former building societies to familiar stores changed first the names on the high street and then saw many of them driven out of local communities altogether, whilst the scaling up of the public sector- away from the small District Hospital to the big regional centre, for example, may have made sense rationally, but not necessarily emotionally. If local identities felt increasingly undermined, a sense of national identity was also changing too.  The collapse of the former Soviet Union in 1989 unfroze national identificationacross eastern Europe and beyond, whilst closer to home, devolution for Scotland and Waleswas one factor encouraging a renewed impetus to the debate about a distinctly English identity.

     

    Big cities have their stresses, of course, but their relative economic and creative dynamism offset the losses, and a second wave of urban regeneration fostered new urban pride, even if by no means everyone shared in its benefits. For far too many towns and smaller communities the change and the loss has been highly visible and wholly inadequately offset. When some saw significant arrivals from the accession countries in the second half of the last decade, it was, for some, a further sense of a familiar world slipping further and further away. Time and prosperity would have softened that, but the crash and post-crash austerity put that out of reach.

     

    The warning signs have been there for many years and politicians failed to take heed.  They paid no attention to the growing support for UKIP among those communities that were falling behind and becoming increasingly dependent on the state for benefits, whether unemployed, or in low paid work.  Eight out of ten of the areas where workers receive the lowest wages voted leave.

     

    Globalisation creates winners and losers and if the welfare state stops looking after the losers then they are bound to feel justified resentment towards those who have let them down, namely the political elite.  There is clear evidence of a link between those areas who have been left behind, and more recently, felt the full brunt of Tory austerity, and large majorities for voting leave.

    The Gross Incomes of those with low skills fell consistently from 2001 and dropped dramatically as a consequence of Tory austerity.  The Tory’s Welfare Reform Act ushered in ten different benefit changes intended to save £18.9Bn by 2015, including the roll out of Universal Credit, Bedroom Tax and the Benefit Cap among others. The average loss of income to each working age Briton was estimated to be £440; in the City of London that figure was £177 but in Blackpool it was £914.  The average loss of income was 23.4%, in the poorest areas that rose to 46.3% and just 6% in the richest.[1]

     

    Low income areas also rely more heavily on public services that came under siege from cuts.  Since 2010, spending on the NHS flat lined while demand grew while across the country education spend went down by 19% in real terms.  Between 2010 and 2015 Blackpool suffered over twice rate of cuts to its local council expenditure than the national average.  In the referendum it voted 68% leave while the City of London voted 75% remain. 

     

    Professor Thiemo Fetzer of Warwick University, argues in his paper ‘Did Austerity Cause Brexit?’ that the ‘austerity shock’ tipped the balance of the referendum in favour of leave.  He highlights the fact that there was a 11.6 percentage increase in support for UKIP in elections prior to the referendum, in areas most exposed to Tory austerity.[2]

     

    Over the last 35 years the richest one percent have more than doubled their share of incomes. People are not blind to this scale of inequality.  The reaction that things must change may not have been immediate, but the accumulated slow burn of resentment built up over many years and culminated in the most impoverished areas voting overwhelmingly for Brexit.

     

     

    [1] Innes, D. and G. Tetlow (2015). Delivering Fiscal Squeeze by Cutting Local Government Spending.

    [2] Professor Thiemo Fetzer of Warwick University https://warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/economics/research/centres/cage/manage/publications/381-2018_fetzer.pdf

     

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    Yvette Cooper on Towns

    Healing the Brexit divide between cities and towns

     

    Two and a half years on from the Brexit referendum, our country feels more divided than ever. The Government and Parliament are debating the Brexit deal. But too little time has been spent working out how to heal the divides or challenge the inequalities that underpinned the Brexit vote in the first place. Politics isn’t bringing people together, it is fracturing instead.

     

    The divides aren’t just between people, they are between places. Cities were more likely to vote remain – the biggest cities voting 60% to remain.Towns, on the other hand, were more likely to vote leave – on average 55%. 22 of the top thirty Remain areas are cities. 27 of the top thirty Leave voting areas in the referendum are towns. 

     

    The gap in the Brexit vote between cities and towns is underpinned by a growing economic divide. Many towns across the country haven’t had a fair deal in recent years. In towns like ours in Yorkshire and across the country, we have seen investment and skilled jobs move into the cities, transport connections fail, town centres under pressure and public services withdrawn. Crucial decisions affecting our towns are too often being taken in cities far away so the promise of taking back control is an appealing one. Yet no matter what happens on Brexit itself, nothing is currently being done to tackle the frustration and widening gap facing towns, and the Conservative Government is making it worse. Labour has to build a strong plan to tackle the injustice and heal the divide.

     

    Without action the urban economic divide will keep getting worse. Manufacturing and distribution jobs are disappearing from towns. Jobs in tech, services and culture are growing in cities. The number of jobs in English town constituencies has grown by just 5% in five years, compared with 11% in city constituencies. Overall, economic growth under the Tories has been only two-thirds the rate in towns as in cities.

     

    Recent waves of technological change and globalisation have created amazing new opportunities that many cities have seized, however they have been much tougher on our towns. Big cities with their universities, diverse skills and sheer market size have proved best placed to seize new opportunities. However industrial towns have lost traditional industry through waves of automation and the trade shocks described by Liam Byrne. Seaside towns have lost their tourists as people find affordable holidays abroad. Market towns have lost their markets as shoppers move online or head to the cities and shopping centres instead. Big city centres still include new retail developments as well as quirky niche shops. But town centres are being hollowed out as shops, banks and post offices close, undermining people’s sense of community, identity and confidence. Future automation trends could make things worse.

     

    But instead of responding to this widening opportunity gap between city and town, Conservative Government policies have made things worse. Ministers focus on cities and city regions, assuming wealth and opportunities will trickle down and trickle out. Instead of trying to shape the impact of technology or globalisation on communities, or helping towns respond, Whitehall has made it harder. Economic investment reinforces inequalities rather than narrowing them.Transport investment is concentrated in cities and particularly in London. The big infrastructure investment like Crossrail or HS2 is either within or between cities. Meanwhile miles of bus routes have been cut from our towns. Each wave of broadband and mobile communications upgrade starts with the cities giving their businesses the first opportunities, before spreading more gradually to towns.

     

    At the same time towns have been harder hit by Tory austerity and the loss of public sector jobs. As public services shrink back to fewer, bigger centres to save money, many towns have lost services altogether - the A&E, the maternity unit, the police station, magistrates courts, solicitors practices and swimming pools. Too often big public services such as the NHS or the Court Service make decisions that are completely out of touch with towns like ours  – focusing only on the quality of the service once someone finally makes it in through the city door, not on the hassle and barriers that patients, families, crime victims or witnesses from our towns might all face struggling to get to them. Nor do they consider the cumulative impact of austerity and different public service cuts on the places that depend on them. So town institutions are disappearing and so are the professional jobs within them.

     

    I fear these deep divides are going to get worse whatever happens on Brexit unless we start standing up for our towns. Many of the ideas in other chapters on work, skills, public services and identity are important to our towns. But healing the divide requires changing the way we think about places too. Action is needed across the board but here are three areas where we could start.

     

    First, we need a fundamental change of approach, away from trickle down and trickle out economics. The Government seems to think if you only support cities, everything will just trickle down and out to the towns, but it hasn’t worked. Cities will always be a vital source of growth and wealth generation across the regions, but Britain needs both our towns and our cities to prosper because the growing economic gap is bad for all of us.

     

    Government needs a proper industrial strategy for towns. It needs to shape the impact of technology and globalisation so towns can benefit, and to empower towns to seize new opportunities and benefits rather than repeatedly losing out. That means giving much greater support and priority to investment in towns, as well as supporting local councils and combined authorities to develop clear strategic plans about towns’ economic purposeand connectivity. Instead of rolling out new broadband or 5G infrastructure in cities first, why not start in nearby towns? Instead of always using all the transport money on overruns for big city projects like HS2 or Crossrail, why not start by improving local trains and buses to connect towns? Towns need better education, retrainingand apprenticeship opportunities so young people aren’t all forced to move away to get on, and older workers can reskill. 

     

    Every town has a story, a unique combination of history, geography, skills and culture that can give it economic purpose or community pride, that can help it punch above its weight. But towns need strong, locally driven plans to make the most of their strengths and restore their sense of purposein a changing economy too.

     

    Second, towns should get universal service guarantees to cover public services that townsneed and should expect – NHS services, buses, libraries, community centres, post offices, banking services, parks, leisure and sports facilities. These services support the local economy but even more importantly they make it possible for communitiesto gather and thrive.

     

    And third, we need to give towns more power andmore respect. Devolution deals have concentrated on the cities, but there is still too little power or control in towns, and too little support for local government even though there are fantastic innovative ideas coming from local councils across the country. Key planning and investment decisions with huge local impact on towns are usually taken far, far away. Its time we did more to support local creativity and celebrate the pride people have in local culture too. Arts Council funding is more than four times higher on average in city constituencies than it is in town constituencies. That’s why the Labour Towns group of MPs is calling on the Government to establish a yearly Town of Culture award, to generate new investment, footfall and national recognition for the towns involved, and toempower communities to be creative and ambitious.

     

    Most of all we should value our towns as the back bone of Britain. We should be proud of our towns – with strong communities, unique histories, local skills and industry. 

     

    Whatever the Brexit outcome, if we want the urban divide to heal rather than grow, then towns need renewed purpose and regeneration, including their fair share of investment and opportunities so they can flourish in the changing economy. I don’t believe the Conservatives have the values or the policies to ever heal this divide. Only Labour can. But it means the responsibility on Labour is even greater than ever to be able to reach out as a broad church into cities and towns, across the Remain and Leave divides, to pull people together and make our country fairer and stronger, true to the values that have always been at the heart of our movement.

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    The Tribune Group has a long and proud history as the voice of the centre left of the Parliamentary Labour Party. 

    Labour Tribune MPs want to build on that heritage by initiating policy discussions and engaging with the wider Labour movement right across the UK.  We will work with individuals and organisations that share our values and common goals, to develop ideas that will help inform and shape future debates around a wide range of policies.

    » Find out more here
    » Follow us on Twitter 
    » Like us on Facebook
    Continue reading →

Members

CLIVE EFFORD MP
ELTHAM
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LOUISE HAIGH MP
SHEFFIELD HEELEY
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LIZ MCINNES MP
HEYWOOD AND MIDDLETON
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LYN BROWN MP
WEST HAM
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BILL ESTERSON MP
SEFTON CENTRAL
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JO STEVENS MP
CARDIFF CENTRAL
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