The ResPublica fringe at #Lab12 received an unprecedented level of interest, with standing room only
at all of our events. Our first event was 'Deeper Democracy, Can parties reconnect people with politics?' co-hosted with the Fabian Society and
CentreForum as part of a cross-conference series. Stella Creasy MP, the Shadow Minister for Crime
Prevention, argued that a ‘deeper democracy’ must reach beyond the ballot box,
to an all-encompassing notion that really engages with people on the ground.
ResPublica’s Caroline Macfarland championed the notion of civic participation,
rather than simply representation: a ‘deeper democracy’ can be achieved by not
only connecting people with politics, but with connecting people with each
other. Read Caroline’s reflections in ResPublica’s fringe magazine here.
The next event, 'What holds society together in modern Brtain?' co-hosted with Demos, saw
Phillip Blond debating with David Lammy MP, David Goodhart, Director at Demos,
and Sunder Katwala of British Future on the nature of ‘post-liberalism’.
ResPublica’s Director, Phillip Blond, argued that state collectivism and
economic liberalism have both separated people from each other, undermining
relational networks, and David Lammy MP called for a much bigger ‘big society’,
which must also call to account ‘big business’. David Goodhart summarised
‘post-liberalism’ as a ‘one nation economics’ plus an attitude of common
decency, and not ‘everything goes’. Read Phillip’s article on the post-liberal
agenda in ResPublica’s fringe magazine here, and search #postliberalism on Twitter to
read back on the debate.
Later in the week, our first event of the day welcomed
a number of councillors and conference delegates, to hear Graham Allen MP
outline his ideas on 'What does independence for local government really mean?' We have had the
rhetoric for localism, argued Graham Allen MP, but now is the time to put it
into practice. He called on all political parties to embrace and extend their
understanding of localism and local powers in their manifestos, to allow people
to take real ownership of their local government. Councillor Keith Wakefield
called for an understanding of local government that moves away from ‘managerialism’
to rather act in enabling and shaping civic enterprise and local economies. For
a round-up of this event, read the Guardian’s Local Government Network report
on the discussions here.
Following Ed Miliband’s speech, where he forcefully
communicated his vision for the Labour party and ‘one nation’ philosophy,
ResPublica hosted a timely fringe event which appealed to many of its themes.
‘Responsible Recovery: Balancing social and economic priorities’, heard from a
range of high profile figures, such as Lord Glasman, Phillip Blond, Simon
Danczuk MP, Sir Robin Wales and Polly Toynbee, who all debated the crucial
‘next steps’ for recovery of the market in the UK. Maurice Glasman fleshed out
his call for a ‘one nation economics’, arguing for worker representation,
vocational education and regional banks. Principles of morality, relationship
and skills must be foundational in recovering the economy, Maurice outlined,
and the Mayor of Newham called for a responsible recovery that entails building
links with the community. ResPublica’s Caroline Julian has written on the role
of ‘one nation markets’ for the New Statesman blog here.
And finally, to round off a very successful
presence we welcomed Hazel Blears MP, for an event co-hosted with NAVCA on 'Public services, social value and the social economy'. Hazel Blears MP championed the notion of
social value in both public and private
markets, arguing that the Public Services (Social Value) Act must be taken much
much further. Drawing on recent proposals outlined with the Shadow Secretary to
the Treasury, Chris Lesley MP, Gareth Thomas unpacked plans for a community
investment fund, to be drawn from the financial services sector, in stimulating
a social economy amongst the banks and the grassroots. ResPublica’s Caroline
Julian and NAVCA’s Barney Mynott, have written on social value in our fringe
magazine, accessible here. Third Sector magazine has also
reported on this event here.
As part of our party conference programme, we have published The ResPublica Fringe Magazine 2012, with articles and essays from our party conference partners and speakers. The publication is available here, and articles are also published on our very own Disraeli Room blog. We also use social media to broadcast our events via
the twitter hashtag #RPfringe. To keep updated follow @res_publica, and the ResPublica team @phillip_blond @carolinemacf @carolineLjulian.