The future of the left since 1884

Remaking the State: How should Labour govern?

This collection of essays looks at the big policy questions Labour needs to answer if it is to win power again.


Labour has many challenges to overcome before the next election. The party has been having a vibrant debate  exploring high-minded concepts of how to remake Britain, but must now focus on finding new and innovative methods of governing in order to become a party fit to face the nation in 2015.

Throughout its history the Fabian Society has been associated with the evolution of the British state. Our 2013 New Year Conference saw a wide-ranging conversation, which opened up new areas of debate across the contested territory of how Labour should govern.

This collection of essays from some of the conference’s key speakers seeks to develop this discussion, exploring how we view the state. If Labour can be radical enough to build a different state that works hand-in-hand with the people of Britain, it could bring a seachange in the way that we define politics and policy.

Inside this collection:

Labour’s next state: the five big questions – Andrew Harrop
Labour needs to answer five questions about the future of the state, so that it comes to power with a radical programme of government, but  one that survives contact with the reality of office.

The real big society – Jacqui Smith
Labour policy on public services should not just be about how we distribute public money, but also about how we redistribute power and control to staff and users. We should use this opportunity to transform the way we see the role of the state.

Getting to government – Marcus Roberts
The very values of equality and fairness, social liberalism and social justice that conservatives think doom Ed Miliband in 2015 may yet deliver success at the election and beyond.

A new vision for public services – Frances O’Grady
Labour’s alternative should be confident that the public sector is best placed to deliver quality and responsive public services. But only if there is willingness to change cultures and ways of working.

Localism in action – Hilary Benn MP
Labour should back localism because the time is right. Austerity is forcing us to think in new and creative ways because we simply cannot afford to do things as we have done them before. We may be short of money but we have an inexhaustible supply of ideas, effort, determination, resourcefulness, and a will to succeed.

Life after Gove – Fiona Millar
Labour must have the guts and the vision to develop a bold and radical alternative to the Gove reforms  – an alternative that is rigorous and inclusive but also able to enthuse and convince an increasingly weary and demoralised profession.

No child left behind – Lisa Nandy MP
We need to recognise that education is at once academic, vocational and social; that it should equip children for life and not just the  workforce and should be a place where children and young people find social enlightenment, not social advantage.

The challenges of a changing NHS – Mark Ferguson
With the current NHS structures set to change beyond recognition and the looming spectre of social care pushing down on future resources – can Labour really rule out another restructure? Such huge challenges in the NHS must be faced and fought for alongside local communities – putting democracy at its heart.

The unfinished business of equality – Rupa Huq
Women’s concerns are key to the narrative of the squeezed middle and Labour must ensure that the post-crash state is a much more female friendly. The women’s dimension of all policy area needs recognition as central to everything rather than being simply tacked on.

The power and the promise of predistribution – Sonia Sodha
There is no neat set of policies that will achieve a fairer predistribution of resources.. But, as challenging it is, it must be central to the Labour party’s economic agenda in the run up to the next election.

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How to purchase

Copies are available, priced £9.95, from the Fabian Society. Call 020 7227 4900, email or send a cheque payable to The Fabian Society to 61 Petty France, London, SW1H 9EU.


Sofie Jenkinson

Sofie Jenkinson is head of news and digital at the Institute for Public Policy Research, former editorial assistant at the Fabian Society and member of the Fabian Women’s Network Executive.


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