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The Guardian
Newspaper of choice of those on the Left.

Circulation: Approx 370,000
The passing of John Smith leads to a new Labour Leader

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The passing of John Smith was a profound shock. As mourners have been leaving flowers and tributes outside his home in London and outside Labour HQ, many have recognized that a formidable force in politics, the man who they called the Prime Minister in waiting has sadly departed this world.

John Smith was set to crown a lifetime in politics by taking the highest office of all. His supporters took their cue from him. His abrupt death is bad for Britain, appalling for Labour and alarming for every middle-aged person with heart problems.

As Labour has elected a new leader in the form of Calvin Ward, it is widely accepted among some that they will not find another leader with the Olympian quality which Smith projected of being above every faction, a leader for all the party. John Smith had achieved a personal ascendancy unmatched by any Labour leader since Clement Attlee.

But what about Calvin Ward? Little is known about the son of a shipbuilder and a teacher but he was elected to the Labour Leadership uncontested. The widowed Leader of the Opposition who sadly lost his wife in a car accident shortly after the 1992 General election now faces a big task ahead of him, to lead the party to Government.

Some will say this would have course been easier if John Major had stayed in post. John Major was seen as a lame duck Prime Minister, a man who was trying to steer a broken ship, it’s rudder fused and heading straight into an iceberg. With a new change in captain heading into Number 10, Calvin Ward’s team will no doubt be scanning Labour intelligence files and assessing who is most likely to win the Conservative Leadership contest. From our perspective, it could literally go either way but no doubt Calvin Ward will have a preference.

Besides facing off the new Prime Minister the question remains if Calvin Ward will seek to continue the direction started by John Smith or will he seek a different direction, a direction to rejuvenate Labour who has been out of power for over a decade and has failed to win a general election after three attempts.

Many in Labour will be hoping Calvin Ward is their man, he will just have to prove it.
Treating vs Curing
A guest editorial by Western Isles MP Liam Maolinin

Since 1991 violent crime has been consistently rising year after year with very little pronounced fluctuation. In 1991 for example over 9,000 instances of crimes involving serious wounding were committed across the United Kingdom while crimes involving wounding in general took place over 183,000 times. As the rate of crime rises in this country so does its impact in tearing apart family life and wounding communities across the whole of the United Kingdom. Politicians have long struggled to answer the issue of crime with tough penalties and increases in the number of officers. These measures are good at addressing the symptoms but they do very little to address the root causes of crime in this country.

In the groundbreaking poverty study conducted amongst a sampling of British households in 1990 for the Breadline Britain project it was found that over 20% of British households were in poverty conditions an increase of 50% since the 1983 breadline study was conducted. With poverty on the rise unemployment has also plagued the population hovering between 8 and 10% nationally. 

When the economic conditions are bleak and despair sets in the rate of crime rises in direct correlation. There is no coincidence that economic trouble corresponds with rising crime rates. Yet the gut reaction to crime is to treat the symptoms by increasing sentencing and the number of officers in the street. Treating the symptoms does not always treat the root of the problem and when we are able to deal with the root of the problem we will have more success at reducing and eliminating it either in part or eventually in its entirety. Invariably when one looks directly at the statistics of economic growth, unemployment and rising crimes one can find that a Conservative approaches have not discouraged the rise of crime but has encouraged it. The 1992 Conservative manifesto made clear that a Tory approach to crime is through hiring over 1000 additional officers and giving tougher sentences. Yet since that party manifesto and conference we have seen crime continue to rise and poverty continue to get worse in the United Kingdom.

Simply put Tory solutions do not work in addressing the beating heart of the crime problem. Where is the community based approach that sees police officers as a representative extension of the neighborhoods they represent? Where are the youth centres and after school programming designed to give our youth productive outlets while their parents finish their work days? By investing not just in our youth but in our communities we will see that investment return dividends as quality of life improves and the allure of crime reduces in scope. Youth are the future of this nation! Yet they have been woefully neglected by the failed Conservative policies that have looked at the problem of crime and deigned to treat the symptoms rather than investing in the cure.

The cure to crime is a twofold approach of providing direct investment in the quality of life in communities across the United Kingdom while working to provide policing that is in touch with the communities they police and the residents who live there. By hiring police that live in the areas they patrol our police will know instinctively the problems that exist and the best way to handle those problems. By investing in community youth clubs and centres we will be providing a hands on approach to youth trade and career development. What if instead of simply encouraging our youth to roam the streets by not providing them with engagement after school we instead provide them with a place to go and socialize with their friends. A place where they can learn practical skills that will help them develop in the direction of future careers. What if we invest in opening up places for apprenticeships in emergency services and community businesses that will give our youth the chance to see new opportunities and spark interest in growth after they finish their studies?

When we believe in our youth and their future we will see positive results. When we focus instead exclusively on crime and providing a hard nosed approach we will only see more and more choosing the wrong lifestyle and pursuing the wrong path. There is no statistical evidence that shows a positive benefit to a hard nosed approach to crime. But provide offenders with a second chance and work to rehabilitate them into positive contributing members of society and we will see that crime rate take a right proper nose dive into the abyss where it belongs! Why aren’t we providing those in the judiciary with sentencing options that are flexible and take into account the chance of recidivism? Not every first time criminal is going to repeat their offenses but when we take a first time criminal and throw them into prison with a long sentence and they are exposed to that prison environment for a long time it will change the way they think and it will increase their chance of reoffending again in the future.

Our communities deserve better and those who commit crimes should be rehabilitated. These are the kind of common sense compassionate reforms that has endeared Labour to the public in the past and these are the kind of reforms that will see our United Kingdom turned into a much better place over time. But so long as we have a Tory Government more interested in treating symptoms rather than investing time and effort into a cure we will see crime rates rise, families split apart and communities torn asunder by callous ineffective approaches. The time has come for us to join together and to start a new page in which the communities of our United Kingdom come first and new hope is provided to the young men and women who have gone down the wrong path in life,


That the talk of vexillology now trails along the halls of Westminster is most surprising. For a government, twenty percent behind in the polls, to present such a niche topic as flagship legislation will no doubt leave many baffled. At the time of writing, a minor public debate about it has even begun to emerge. And from a surface view, it raises significant questions about the purpose of our officials and representatives. But to dismiss the act, as done above, is wrong.

It is important with regards to this topic to note that, though it has never been in doubt since its inception in 1801, the Union Jack/Flag has never been enshrined into law as the national insignia. It is through tradition and fudges that it has emerged as a symbol of the nation. In 1933, Sir John Gilmour, the then Home Secretary, declared that the Union Jack, “may properly be flown by any British subject”, and yet it is only in this bill - in particular the provisions for declared flying from every government building - that shifts the legal needle effectively fully in that direction. But even then, one mask ask what purpose does a formalisation serve?

The answer is simple - the Prime Minister seeks to play on the heartstrings of the romantic, small c, conservative England that will no doubt be a vital swing group in the next election, whenever that is to come. I am not in the know, and I say this with no tip offs beyond my own intuition - an election must now be around the corner. Yes, the government lags by some distance - but with this act, a roadmap is being laid back to the top. Under Lewis Graves, the Tories have already cut a fifth off of Labour’s lead in just three months. With a newly invigorated patriotism, and a much needed long run up to the last date an election can be called, it is not unthinkable that Labour can be reached. But for swift movement, the Conservatives rise, but Labour must also fall in equal measure. The Flag Act is a carefully laid pothole that will road test a probable year long election strategy, pitting a patriotic - and crucially ‘stay the course’ - Prime Minister against an opposite number that will no doubt be tempted by this bait to attack its lack of importance. It is, of course, not unimportant. It is instead to raise a public image that Britain, on the tail coat ends of Empire, still has much to be proud of. It represents a first offer of reshaping the nation’s reflection to gently maintain its pride at a time of global upheaval.

All this, of course, is conditional on, and now deeply threatened by, the outcome of the emerging potential conflict of a Conservative leadership election. The Prime Minister, in his eagerness for a swift recovery in the polls, has missed the obvious threat that the next two years holds - not those on the opposite benches, but those dissenters in his own party. Is it any wonder that polling showing only lackluster support for Graves amongst Conservatives party members was leaked to the Sun just days before a no confidence vote was called? For all the well placed tactics set into motion by the Prime Minister, it has not come with the important backwatching that is required when the stakes are this high.

Ultimately, the vital calculations have been missed by those on all sides. The Prime Minister has missed that it makes his government look uninspired, alienating those already unsure about his premiership. The Tory dissenters have missed that it is a step on the road towards holding onto swing voters in vital Conservative-Labour marginals. Hell - even the opposition have missed that one, and have begun to go after it for lacking significance at a time of national crumbling (for which they are right, but picking the wrong battle).

It is far from clear what comes next. Even if Graves survives the no confidence vote, he will be damaged, and kept on constant watch by those on his backbenches. If a new leader takes over, the continuation of Thatcher agenda will surely have to be binned - it seems deeply unlikely that a successful challenger could justify the fall of one leader by following his agenda.

Who would have thought that such a minor miscalculation, on a bill of relatively unimportance substance, could potentially throw a Prime Minister off a cliff?
The Case for Devolution
by Max Power,
MP for Oxford East and Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer
Recently, the Government rejected an Opposition proposal for a referendum to be held on devolving some governing powers to Scotland and Wales.  In both the debate in the House of Commons, and in remarks made in the press, those speaking for the Conservative Party made several assertions that simply do not stand up to scrutiny, and thus expose their opposition to a devolution referendum as nothing more than an exercise of raw political power that shows contempt for the people of Scotland and Wales.  At the same time, there remain compelling arguments for allowing a Referendum to be held.
The Minister for Regions first claimed that the real solution would be to devolve more power to local governments as opposed to Scotland and Wales.  This is an intriguing idea.  However, the Conservative Government has acted in direct contradiction of local empowerment.  In the Local Government Act of 1985, the Greater London Council and seven other elected metropolitan county councils were abolished.  That conveniently silenced governing authorities in many Labour-voting areas.  Years of Conservative Government have led to an concentration of power at Westminster.  Thus, the suggestion of empowering local authorities is nothing more than a diversion to prevent devolution of power to our constituent nations.
During the debate in the Commons, the current (but who knows for how much longer) Prime Minister, Mr. Graves, made some risible assertions that reflect the emptiness his party’s claims.  It is rich to witness chest-pounding rhetoric from him and other Tories about how our proposal is a “threat” to the unity of the United Kingdom.  Our unity has been damaged by 15 years of Conservative policies that have widened the economic and social divide between different parts of our country.  The flash and glitter of England’s South and London’s centre are absent in wide parts of the UK, including the North of England, large cities outside of London, and not least Wales and Scotland.  Concerning Scotland, the Conservative Party was once a powerful force in that nation, but after 15 years of Tory policies, its parliamentary representation has been reduced to a rump faction.  And the Tories are going nowhere in Wales, for good reason.
The Government’s insistence that our country’s unity can only be achieved by uniformity across nations and regions is similarly unpersuasive.  One need only consider the examples of federal polities such as America’s and Germany’s, which have strengthened their unions rather than weakened them.  There is surely room in our country for the same devolution of authority.  Conservative alarmism about separate currencies is typically empty rhetoric.  But putting all of that aside, there are many positive arguments for at least considering devolution, hence the wisdom of holding a referendum. 
For instance, does anyone believe that Scottish agriculture faces the same challenges as English agriculture?  Does anyone deny that there are specific economic problems in the Welsh Valleys?  Are not local officials better placed to understand the needs of their constituents instead of civil servants, who, with the best of intentions, are not part of these communities. 
Scottish and Welsh governments would also allow for a fuller expression of each nation’s distinctive cultures.  The greatness of the United Kingdom does not lie in a dreary uniformity, where everyone is exactly the same, but rather in honoring and celebrating our unique heritages.  And, while there are Government offices located in both Scotland and Wales, establishing elected bodies will increase democratic accountability for these offices. 
Scotland already has a different legal system, a different established church, and a different education system than does England.  There has been an increasing interest in Scotland’s history and unique identity.  This deserves an elected body.
In Wales, there has long been a great interest in preserving their unique language and culture, and demands for equal status between Welsh and English in the areas of education, road signage, and official documents.  Such interest in a specific identity argues for a distinct elected body for the nation.
Under devolution, the different nations of the United Kingdom would have the opportunity to experiment with new ways of practicing politics and policy.  Within a framework set by the national government (meaning, certain guaranteed minimum standards), each nation can follow the priorities its respective elected government sets.  If that leads to competition between nations, what of it?  I had always thought the Conservative Party favoured competition to achieve the best results.  It is unfortunate that they do not feel that way about our polity.  I would say, hope and excitement for change is far healthier than fear and stagnation.  Do not be afraid of change:  embrace it!  And let the people speak!
Legalisation of homosexuality not the fight we need

Despite the surprising support of influential backbencher Margo Leadbetter (CON, Surbiton), we urge party leaders to ignore her braying for the legalisation of homosexuality for the purposes of the public debate. Marriage is between a man and a woman - it's clear, and it's clear that the Great British public agrees with that. In the British Social Attitudes poll, over half of the respondents said that sexual relations between two adults of the same sex were either "always wrong" or "mostly wrong." Any move by the major parties to step forward in this direction will certainly not endear them to the British public and could mean disaster in any upcoming election.
Deputy Head Admin
Admin for the Cabinet Office, Agriculture, National Heritage, Constitutional Affairs, Transport, Labour Advisor, and Polling
Making Great Places to Live
By Amelia Lockhart, MP for Hull North

In The Future of Socialism Anthony Crosland put forward a radical proposition: socialists and social democrats need to focus on so-called ‘quality of life’ issues when it comes to creating a good society. He wrote that Britain needs “more open-air cafes, brighter and gayer streets at night, ... more local repertory theatres, better and more hospitable hoteliers and restaurateurs, brighter and cleaner eating houses, more riverside cafes, more pleasure gardens ... more murals and pictures in public places ... statues in the centre of new housing estates, better-designed new street lamps and telephone kiosks.”

Forty years on, this call still resonates. Indeed, it resonates even more after nearly sixteen years of Conservative Party rule. As a particular virulent form of capitalism has prospered under the Conservatives, too many things that we hold dear have fallen by the wayside. We have seen our common and urban spaces decline, dragging down people’s quality of life and people’s pride in place. When a park is overgrown or the fountain at the heart of a town square falls into disrepair, it doesn’t just look ugly. It signifies something wider: that we as a nation, as a society, don’t care about the way our places look. As a result, more and more people feel shut out of their local communities, that what happens outside of their front door isn’t something they can relate to or engage with. 

Now you can argue that fountains in disrepair or fading murals across our country are small concerns, basically irrelevant for government in the grand scheme of things. In fact, protecting and enhancing the quality of the places in which we live is of critical importance. There is no greater cause, in my mind, than dedicating ourselves to the cause of creating good and beautiful places to live, everywhere.

As a society, we failed for too long to be truly concerned with the state of our communities, and the vibrancy of places. And we can no longer hide or ignore the cost of doing so: social exclusion, rundown streets, despair. We spend far too much to tackle the consequences of bad places to live, and too little on creating good places to live in the first place. 

This has to change: we have to be re-concerned with the quality of our urban and common spaces. The next Labour government has to put hope at the heart of local communities again by focusing on places and spaces.  

This requires restoring arts and culture as a core concern for government, locally and nationally. Because arts and culture, at its best, allows communities to tell their story, express their identity, and weave it into the wider story of our country. It gives people hope, and helps build pride in a place. 

No longer can we be ashamed of investing public money in high-quality, inclusive arts and culture - and sport for that matter. It shouldn’t be a target for cuts from politicians to make savings. Cutting arts means cutting the ability of communities to express themselves, feel proud of the area in which they live, and to make themselves heard. In the long run, this will cost more as exclusion worsens. 

But let’s be equally clear: while good quality arts and culture in the spaces and places people occupy can tackle exclusion, it is currently shackled in exclusive museums away from the communities who can benefit from it the most.In too many places, and for too many people, arts and culture is seen as not for them - and for people who don’t look like them, sound like them, or come from the same places, and same communities as they do. 

This has worsened in recent years, as art and culture relies more on private investment and less on public subsidy. I want, like Jennie Lee argued 30 years ago, every child and every adult to have access to the arts, to consider it a normal part of their life, and to believe it reflects their experiences. That means flinging open the doors to our museums and galleries making them common spaces accessible for all, and putting arts on our streets and in our urban spaces. A statute on every street corner is not the policy I advocate, but why shouldn’t we commit to letting local communities put up works by local artists to enhance their area? 

We can do so much more than just cut the arts budget. We can fashion an exciting agenda that lifts up every community, that opens up creativity to every one, and that places beauty at the heart of the places where people live. The benefits that flow from this are significant and shouldn’t be dismissed. 

The Labour Party should be looking at ‘low cost’ social democratic solutions to some of the most significant challenges facing Britain. We can’t continue with the Tories reckless plans on spending; we need smart solutions. Investing in Britain’s fantastic arts and culture to create great places to live is one of them.
On Cantuar
By The Rev'd Angela Berners-Wilson

The appointment of the Rt Rev'd David Lunn as our next Archbishop of Canterbury brings mixed feelings along with it. He has done several great things - his support for the renewal of lay ministry; his encouragement of new expressions of the church, including the Nine O'Clock Service; and his passionate calling for evangelism in this era. However, one thing above all stands out and cancels out all the good he does - he is opposed to the ordination of women. 

It has not been an easy road for any of us to be ordained. It took me 15 years after being made a deaconess to be ordained a priest. For some of us, that journey has been much longer. And for the Prime Minister to appoint a new Archbishop who believes that my being ordained a priest "inexorably and fatally" weakens the authority of the scriptures and of the Church I serve is a slap in the face to me and my colleagues. Having Archbishop Carey's support, as well as Archbishop Habgood, has been a blessing to me as others struggle with this change. And now, to have a Primate who would deny me this privilege to serve God and His people and His church is an outrage. We must do better.

So how can we do better? Let me leave you with two thoughts - firstly, the Prime Minister's role must be reduced in this process. This one man's actions have made me feel threatened for having my sacramental calling. If the committee deadlocks, they should instead recommend between two or four candidates to a body for election by orders. Either the diocesan synod, in the case of a diocesan or suffragan bishop, should do the electing, or, for an Archbishop, the General Synod alongside additional representatives of the diocese if it is for the Archbishop of York. Electing bishops has worked perfectly well for the Americans and Canadians - I see no reason why we should not.

Secondly, if you are a major figure in the Church of England and you support the ordination of women, make it known. Make us feel supported. Ordain us. Include us in major diocesan services. Appoint us to committees and commissions and board and everything else. Let us be equal participants in the work of the church. And most importantly, for bishops, let us know that we are safe in our jobs and callings if we are called to serve under you.

The Rev'd Angela Berners-Wilson is the Senior Anglican Chaplain to the University of Bristol. The first woman ordained to the priesthood in the Church of England, she was a deacon or deaconess for 15 years, serving at Thames Polytechnic, St Marylebone Parish Church, and Christ Church, Southgate. She is a graduate of the University of St Andrews and Cranmer Hall, Durham.
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Admin for the Cabinet Office, Agriculture, National Heritage, Constitutional Affairs, Transport, Labour Advisor, and Polling

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