CSJ - Now it’s time to govern
13 Dec 2019 01:29 PM
Posted by Edward Davies | Policy Director
One of the sad, quiet moments of this election campaign was the passing of Labour politician Frank Dobson. Some years ago I had the privilege of interviewing him about his time in government.
It was an enjoyable hour of wit and wisdom but particularly relevant today was his experience of becoming a senior minister in a new government in 1997: “The secretary of state [must] implement all reasonable things which were included in the election manifesto as keeping election promises is a most important part of politics. The failure to do so is the most damaging.”
With today’s renewed mandate and majority from the British public, there is a huge responsibility now on this Government to take that advice. The next five years must see the poetry of a manifesto become the prose of daily politics.
The Conservative manifesto was criticised for being too thin at times, but within it were the bookmarks of a Government that could be dominated by social justice.
In its own words: “There are parts of the country that feel left behind. Talent and genius are uniformly distributed throughout the country. Opportunity is not. Now is the time to close that gap – not just because it makes such obvious economic sense, but for the sake of simple social justice.”
It is in that vain that we were thrilled to see the pledge for a new strategy on addiction and having recently completed a year long piece of work on exactly this, we will offer our support in making it a reality.
Likewise, the creation of the Serious Violence Reduction Order, based on CSJ work It Can Be Stopped, can help make some of our poorer neighbourhoods much safer.
The CSJ is in the middle of a five-year programme of reforming the education system for excluded children. The Conservative pledge to reform the system of Alternative Provision can give hope to the 50,000 children in it.
We will be following and cheering the roll out of a national Housing First programme to end chronic homelessness, championing the proposed investment in Universal Credit and pushing to see the £500m promised to youth services become reality.
We will be running concurrent reviews of the care system and criminal justice system in the next year, and ensuring they inform those pledged in the manifesto, and will ensure that the promise to champion Family Hubs and recovery services for victims of Modern Slavery do not end at promises.
We also want to make sure this is a Government bursting with new ideas for the most disadvantaged and so in the early weeks of the new year we will be releasing major new reports on apprenticeships, lifelong learning, disability and a number of other areas. Watch this space.
But if this is to be a government that really turns around the lives of much of its new voter-base, it must also listen.
The CSJ’s only intervention in the election period was to encourage all politicians to listen to low income voters from across the country, many of whom have felt ignored for too long. In our recent survey of low-income voters almost 8 in 10 (78 per cent) voters living on the lowest incomes said they have never met or spoken to their local MP. The turnaround in the party’s fortunes suggests that it is starting to change and it must continue to.
This is exactly what we will be doing, opening several new regional offices in 2020 to co-ordinate our work with grassroots poverty-fighting charities across the country.
It’s only by leaving Westminster behind over the next five years that this government will enable politics to help those that need it most.