Labour heavyweights launch ideas campaign to end party infighting

Four former ministers are launching a campaign to revive the intellectual life of the Labour Party and counter what they see as a pointless tug of war between Blairites and the trade unions.

When Ed Miliband assumed office as Labour leader in 2010, he declared that the party's policies were a "blank sheet of paper" – meaning that everything in previous election manifestos was up for re-examination. A full scale policy review is now under way.

On Monday, the four Commons veterans will launch a new "Policy Portal" open to Labour MPs and supporters with ideas to contribute to the review. To start it off, they will post one essay each on issues they handled when they were in government.

The only condition attached is that they want "smart new ideas that do not require huge levels of public expenditure, but would bring real benefits to society."

Writing separately in the current issue of the New Statesman, one of those behind the new project, the former Home Office minister John Denham, who now acts as Ed Miliband's parliamentary aide, warned that the Labour Party cannot go back to promising substantial increases in public spending.

But Mr Denham and his associates on the project – Hugh Bayley, Nick Raynsford and Malcolm Wicks – are also trying to steer clear of the economic liberalism of the Blair years, when New Labour attracted support from millionaire businessmen but was accused of losing sight of its core supporters.

Each of the four has been in the Commons for at least 20 years, and so they were MPs when Labour was in opposition and led by the late John Smith.

Among themselves, the quartet had jokily suggested calling their new initiative "neither Progress nor the GMB". The next Labour conference will have to deal with a dispute between the left-wing leaders of the GMB union and the Blairite think tank Progress. The union has accused Progress – which receives substantial sums from the Labour peer Lord Sainsbury – of acting as a party within the party.

In their mission statement, Mr Denham and his allies warn: "When political parties go into opposition after a long period in government, they are vulnerable to different reactions. On the one hand, they can get sucked into an orgy of blood-letting and recrimination, on the other they can lapse into comatose inertia."

The four contributions posted on the website will include an essay from Mr Denham proposing that supermarkets be compelled to release information about their prices in a way that will make it possible to create an app through which shoppers can make genuine comparisons.

Mr Raynsford has contributed a proposal to alter the tax system to give people with spare rooms in their homes a greater incentive to rent them out.

Mr Wicks has proposed a Savers' Charter that will protect customers from losing out from artificially low interest rates.

Mr Bayley has proposed a "right to treatment" for NHS patients as a way of overcoming what is known as the "postcode lottery".

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Life and Style
love + sex
Arts and Entertainment
Victoria Wood, Kayvan Novak, Alexa Chung, Chris Moyles
tvReview: No soggy bottoms, but plenty of other baking disasters on The Great Comic Relief Bake Off
Sport
Ashley Young celebrates the winner for Manchester United against Newcastle
footballNewcastle 0 Man United 1: Last minute strike seals precious victory
Life and Style
Tikka Masala has been overtaken by Jalfrezi as the nation's most popular curry
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Seth Rogan is one of America’s most famous pot smokers
filmAmy Pascal resigned after her personal emails were leaked following a cyber-attack sparked by the actor's film The Interview
News
Benjamin Netanyahu and his cartoon bomb – the Israeli PM shows his ‘evidence’
people
Arts and Entertainment
80s trailblazer: comedian Tracey Ullman
tv
News
i100
Life and Style
A statue of the Flemish geographer Gerard Kremer, Geradus Mercator (1512 - 1594) which was unveiled at the Geographical Congree at Anvers. He was the first person to use the word atlas to describe a book of maps.
techThe 16th century cartographer created the atlas
Arts and Entertainment
Stephen Tompkinson is back as DCI Banks
tvReview: Episode one of the new series played it safe, but at least this drama has a winning formula
News
i100
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: UI / UX Designer

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This firm are focussed on assis...

Recruitment Genius: General Processor

£7 per hour: Recruitment Genius: A vacancy has arisen for a General Processor ...

Recruitment Genius: Outbound Sales Executive - B2B

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A great opportunity has arisen ...

Recruitment Genius: Online Sales and Customer Services Associate

£14000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Full time and Part time positio...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot