A Long, Hot Summer: A Turbulent Year-Iraq, Bombs, the Election, Leadership Acrimony and Much More-Has Reshaped Our Political Landscape. as MPs Break Up for Their Recess, Three Writers Review the Altered State of the Parties and Look Ahead To
DAVID PUTTNAM ON LABOUR
'Now is the time to bridge the chasm between government and the governed'
Perhaps I am an optimist, but I believe you've got to go back about seven years to recall a more united and positive atmosphere in the Labour Party. And it's not just true in parliament: the efforts being made to rebuild at the grass roots in time for the next round of local elections have every chance of being successful, so long as the present climate of discussion and co-operation continues.
This represents quite a turnaround, because only four months ago the atmosphere in the parliamentary party was becoming poisonous. Several things have been responsible, chief among them the unifying effect of the recent attacks on London and the success of the party leaders in showing statesmanship. But other forces, too, have been at work: the election dust has settled and some divisive issues are slipping into the past. This is a good time to reinvigorate the party and its organisation.
Central to this process will be re-engagement with the electorate. The most recent Labour manifesto is unambiguous: "Widening access to power is as important as widening access to wealth and opportunity ... Our political institutions--including our own party--must engage a population overloaded with information, diverse in its values and lifestyles, and sceptical of power ... Our challenge is to bridge the chasm between the government and the governed." Among the many discussions that ought to be taking place in this context is how we can improve citizenship education. Creatively and inclusively conducted, it has the potential to combat the lack of social cohesion that permits extreme ideologies to take hold of the imaginations of a few young Britons.
In 2001, in the wake of the Bradford riots, I wrote an article in the New Statesman setting out the imaginative steps the National Museum of Photography, Film and Television (of which I was then chair) had taken to draw in young Asians and interest them in the work of the museum. Many of these admittedly small initiatives were remarkably successful. As a result of my experience in Bradford, I was particularly interested in the Cantle report when it was published later that year. This described what had to be …
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Publication information: Article title: A Long, Hot Summer: A Turbulent Year-Iraq, Bombs, the Election, Leadership Acrimony and Much More-Has Reshaped Our Political Landscape. as MPs Break Up for Their Recess, Three Writers Review the Altered State of the Parties and Look Ahead To. Contributors: Not available. Magazine title: New Statesman (1996). Volume: 134. Issue: 4750 Publication date: July 25, 2005. Page number: 28+. © Not available. COPYRIGHT 2005 Gale Group.
This material is protected by copyright and, with the exception of fair use, may not be further copied, distributed or transmitted in any form or by any means.