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IPPR at party conferences 2012

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We need more homes: Nick Boles talks to IPPR


Juncture debate: Jon Cruddas MP in conversation with James Purnell

04 Oct 2012

Jon Cruddas speaks to James Purnell at Juncture's Labour conference fringe event.

Cruddas argues that the only times Labour has won elections when the Conservatives were in power were times when the party was able contest the 'national story' with emotionally driven policies, and win.

He says that there are three facets to rebuilding Britain: rebuilding the economy, rebuilding society, and rebuilding politics.

Jon Cruddas in conversation with James Purnell


Labour in the North: past, present, future

04 Oct 2012

IPPR North were delighted to host the fringe event Labour in the North: past , present, future at the Labour Party Conference 2012. This packed out event took place at the People's History Museum in Manchester, which derives its origin from the Trade Union, Labour and Co-operative History Society and acted as the perfect setting to explore the Labour Party’s historical and future positions in the North of England.The event featured insightful and stimulating contributions from Tony Benn, Tristram Hunt MP and Owen Jones. This was followed by a lively discussion with members of the audience.


To view additional photos from this event please visit the IPPR North Facebook page.


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Rachel Reeves MP at Northern Economic Futures Commission briefing

04 Oct 2012

Rachel Reeves speaks on the panel at IPPR North's Labour party conference fringe event for the Northern Economic Futures Commission.

She says that plans for a British Investment Bank, whether from IPPR, Vince Cable, or the Labour party, are an important part of the solution for the northern economy.

Rachel Reeves MP at IPPR North Labour conference fringe event


'Public philosophy': Michael Sandel and Nick Pearce in conversation

02 Oct 2012

We need "to draw a distinction between the market economy as a tool and the market society as a way of life", says Michael Sandel, Harvard-based political philosopher, in conversation with Nick Pearce, director of IPPR. In this public discussion, filmed at the Labour party conference in Manchester, Sandel touches on a number of themes that are vital to understanding and advancing the political left today.

Sandel identifies a gap in the diminished place of moral argument on the political left since the 1960s. The problem now, he says, is that there's too little moral argument in politics, not too much.

Indeed, when challenged to validate the role of religious views in American politics, Sandel suggests that the response is not to try to silence these theological moral perspectives but instead to elicit and present alternative moral arguments, and to do so across the full spectrum of political issues, looking beyond abortion and stem-cell research to identify and challenge moral positions on the economy and welfare.

"We shouldn't adjudicate in advance what sources are relevant or appropriate to public argument," Sandel says. Public debate should not be abandoned out of fear of opposition or an assumption of inevitable failure: when it comes to finding consensus, he says, "we can't know unless we try".

Turning to Britain's progressive politics, Sandel identifies a need to relate abstract political goals, such as equality and social justice, with the real lives of citizens. He argues that these concerns must be "anchored" in the Labour tradition, of "solidarity and civic virtue and community". This, Sandel says, produces a "more concrete, textured, story-rich politics".

Where did these abstract goals come from? Sandel contends that, following the market victories of the Thatcher/Reagan years, the Blair/Clinton governments which followed failed to investigate or challenge the fundamental idea of a market-based political economy. This, he says, was supported by an academic community that increasingly saw economics as the social science of human behaviour, and thus as a more abstract and ambitious field of study, and a hubristic misinterpretation of the end of the Cold War as crowning one specific model of free market capitalism as the winner.

The success of market capitalism, Sandel contends, has allowed us the comfort of seeming to be able to avoid moral debates and the need to exercise judgment about what "the good life" is and how to achieve it. These debates are not easy, he concedes: there are "powerful interests arrayed against public discussion of markets". Sandel finds hope for change, if not outright optimism, in the public desire for better politics, in people's "impatience with the existing terms of public discourse".

Lastly, on the question of state versus private provision of services, Sandel argues that "we should ask hard questions about outsourcing public services to private companies" but that we must look at the matter on a case-by-case basis, on empirical grounds, not as "a matter of faith", in order to "be alive to the nuances of public purpose". We need, he says, to break the habit of seeing "the state and the markets as the only possible instruments for achieving the common good" and ask "what should be the role of civil society in trying to work out a politics of the common good?"

Michael Sandel and Nick Pearce were participating in a debate for Juncture, IPPR's journal of politics and ideas.

Michael Sandel on public consensus, moral argument and challenging the market model


Taking the pulse at the Liberal Democrat party conference

26 Sep 2012

IPPR spoke to two high-profile Lib Dems, Treasury chief secretary Danny Alexander and Baroness Shirley Williams, about their views on their party's direction within government and prospects for future success.

IPPR asks Danny Alexander whether the Lib Dems are taking the right path in government

Shirley Williams talks to IPPR about Lib-Dem plans for economic recovery