Left Foot Forward is a collaborative political blog for progressives. We welcome ideas, tip offs and pitches for articles.

There are three things that we are looking out for:

  1. Any insight that you can provide on politics or current affairs. Did a politician flip flop on a position, misuse data or lie? Does a new report or white paper misuse statistics? What’s the distributional impact of a new policy proposal? Did you hear about an administrative failure in a government department or council?
  2. Unbalanced or biased media coverage or misleading reports. Did you read an article that was badly reported? What about a leader or op ed that was badly researched? Was some data misconstrued? Did a broadcaster give a politician an easy ride?
  3. Interesting new data, analysis, or causes that are otherwise unreported. Has a think tank, trade union, NGO or campaigning group done some work that the mainstream media has missed? Is there an international or historical comparison that shines light on an issue of domestic importance? Have you done heard about some analysis or research that is genuinely new?

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  • Joshua Hardy
    I’ve noticed that one of the Conservatives plans for University Tuition fees is to create an early repayment bonus on student loans. Surely this would only benefit students who are already rich enough to be able to pay back student loans. Would this not be a regressive benefit scheme when the money paid out for this could be focused more on lowering Tuition Fees or funding places?

  • David Davies

    The level of Government debt accumulated in the last 2 years is largely as the result of the unnecessary bailout of reckless `financial wizards’ with a `heads we win, tails you lose’ attitude towards their gambles with other people’s money. These people are more than likely to be tories.

    The strictures to be applied to Government spending will mainly be targeted at the livelihoods of the huddled masses at the bottom of the heap. These people should entail the vast majority of the Socialist core vote.

    Is it any surprise that so many now say that they intend to vote BNP?

  • Joanna Daly

    Hi – I have started a new political blog with an anti-racism slant and think it may be especially interesting to Labour readers. It is based entirely on reality. Thankyou.

  • Chris Bunnett

    I love the ideals expressed in the “About” section of your site, but the tone of all the comments are complete biased against the Tories. I’m not sure that this qualifies you as non-partisan… Pity, I’d love to follow a genuinely unbiased site.

    Let me know if you see any way to get back to your openly expressed principles.

    PS: I’m an immigrant!

  • http://none Janet Barlow

    I find the argument that the Lib-Dem proposal to raise the threshold for paying income tax to 10,000 is regressive is tendentious. The graphic showing the rise in weekly income as a function of income decile completely misses the point. A far better dependent variable to plot would be the *fractional* rise in weekly income (i.e. change in income divided by the income before the change) — this would tell a very different story and, is I think, in line with the reasoning behind the policy. This alternative graphic would show that proportionately the lower paid benefit more from this approach. To illustrate what I mean: if my income is 300 pounds a week and I gain an extra 30 – that would be a 10 percent improvement (i.e. very noticeable and significant), but if my income was 1500, the same weekly increase is a mere 2 percent and I doubt I would notice it. If the real point is that you don’t see income tax as a progressive tax – or that you think the LibDems are not going far enough (e.g. they should lower the thresholds for higher rates of tax to save the embarrassment of some proportionately tiny tax gains for middle income earners), then come out and say that. Lifting the tax threshold for the poorest in society *has* to be a good and just thing.

  • John Rickman

    Latest tory plans for ‘constitutional reform’, namely, forcing general elections if a new Prime Minister is invited to form a government part-way through a parliament do not bear scrutiny.

    In the absence of a presidential system, PMs are not ‘elected’ by anyone, except the Monarch. It is constitutionally illiterate to suggest otherwise.

    Progressives rightly favour constitutional reform to end the hereditary principle in UK politics, but this proposal would entrench the party system and is based on the assumption that there will always be a party able to command a majority of its own MPs in the House of Commons. All that is required of a Prime Minister is that she or he can lead a government of democratically elected MPs capable of passing measures in parliament.

    What we need is a constitutional convention which would allow these issues to be deliberated upon.

  • Grit Kuehle

    Hi Will,

    I just read your article on Questions for the leaders and thought you might be interested in a new Facebook application we’re just launching called “Float your Vote” at

    Float Your Vote allows individuals and brands to create their own “campaign” based on any issue, be it serious or frivolous (e.g. “Extend the London Congestion Charge Zone”, “Save BBC Radio 6 Music”, “Bring back free milk for all school children” etc), and then allows people to vote and comment on the campaign. The application also gives political parties the opportunity to respond to these campaigns and offer their own opinions on particular issues.

    As well as allowing individual Facebook users to create their own campaigns and invite their friends and political parties to comment, Float Your Vote is also a platform for commercial brands, charities, pressure groups and other activist organisations to promote and gain support for their own agendas.

    When an individual or organisation creates a new campaign, it appears in their Facebook newsfeed. Campaigns then spread virally as people vote and comment on them and encourage their friends to do the same.

    The main political parties are being invited to post their own official responses to campaigns.

    The application is launching featuring a number of major charities, including the NSPCC and Save the Children.

    Diana Sutton, Head of Public Affairs and Campaigns at NSPCC commenting on the application said; “We think Float Your Vote is a great way to spread the word about our “I Stand For Children” campaign, which is about getting every candidate in the upcoming general election to make child protection a top priority.”

    Branislava Milosevic, Head of Multimedia at Save the Children, commenting on Float Your Vote said; “We want the next government to make ending child poverty at home and abroad a priority. We’re hoping that, along with all our other activity, having our campaign on Float Your Vote will play an important role in garnering public support for our cause and influencing policy.”

    If you have any questions I’d be happy to answer them. You can find Float your Vote at


    Grit Kuehle
    Float your Vote

  • Matt


    I don’t know whether this is of interest to you or not. I got 3 of the election candidates in my local constituency, Salisbury, to do a Q and A – most of the questions coming from Twitter:



  • Lynda Hallam

    I have just seen Will Straw & Billy Bragg campaigning outside LibDem HQ for electoral reform. Did I miss in 1997, 2001 or 2005 these people wanting electoral reform then when only 35% of the country voted Labour? The sheer hypocrisy of these people.

  • John Shields

    I confess that I’m speaking as someone who until recently unequivocally supported FPTP, but anyway, I’m beginning to revise my position, so here goes… Firstly, there are two great supposed advantages to FPTP. Firstly, it delivers strong government and avoids hung parliaments. Er… Now, I know that hung parliaments are of course MUCH more likely under a PR system, but equally, I don’t think you can argue with voters, and nor can political parties show themselves to be afraid of PR – to be afraid of PR is to be afraid of votes themselves. Secondly, and I think more importantly, FPTP preserves the link between local people and Parliament: the last thing we want is a centrally dictated list of people with no nexus with local voters and communities. People would be unaccountable, and all representation would effectively be controlled by parties.

    Now, what do we do about the current system, which seems only to benefit Labour and has delivered a manifestly flawed result? Well, firstly whatever system is chosen MUST preserve the local nexus, the locally driven political movements that FPTP, for all its faults, provides. Secondly, the Lib Dems must be modest in their proposals – whatever you think of the main parties, 4 million more people voted Tory than Lib Dem, and even if the whole country didn’t swing to the Tories, it equally didn’t entirely endorse the other parties’ visions – indeed, a few thousand votes more here and there, and the Tories would have been the subject of fawning headlines about an ‘historic victory’ etc., etc. Third, and I’m saying this as someone who is not a Labour supporter, whatever system is produced, it cannot wipe out the Labour movement. Yes, on a personal level, I think many of their policies are retrograde and outdated, but Labour are a key part of our political system. I have a feeling that, under pure PR, they would find themselves pretty quickly becoming a small irrelevance, as the Lib Dems have hitherto been under FPTP. However much I dislike the party, I would not have this happen.

  • John Shields

    I have been complaining to the BBC and generally around the blogosphere about the use of the word ‘progressive’. The BBC are talking of a ‘progressive’ Lib-Lab coalition. This implies a value judgment, and whatever you think of the parties’ policies, this is not impartial reporting. Every party thinks of their policies as ‘progressive’. I’ll bet the BNP even calls its policies ‘progressive’!

  • John Shields

    I agree with Lynda Hallam – Tony Blair ditched the idea of political reform: in the last election he got a smaller share of the vote than the Tories did this week, and yet was returned with a big majority. Labour has benefited hugely from FPTP, and yes, it’s just desperate and hypocritical to have this ‘deathbed’ conversion to PR. Gordon Brown is a serious politician – and when he’s fighting for his political survival, stuck in a corner, you can expect him to come out guns blazing. The Liberals really shouldn’t fall for the lures he’s dangling in front of hem as part of that breakout.

  • John Shields

    I also agree with Chris Burnett – there’s some good intelligent discussion going on on this site, but it’s very biased, and in a lot of the comments, what would be reasoned argument is tempered by less than dispassionate analysis (it also doesn’t help having a list of ‘progressives’ on the right hand side – people have got to wake up to the fact that ‘progressive’ means different things to different people; thus, overall, it means nothing).

    If you go on to the Coffee House website run by the Spectator, you’ll find similarly biased views from the Tory side of the fence. Both Coffee House and Left Foot Forward have valuable contributions to make and are very good sites, but both would both profit from examining the different sides of argument in greater detail.

  • John Shields

    If you think the Tories are in-fighting, just imagine what’s happening in the Lib Dem camp! I think the Lib Dem position is very week currently – not much worse than the other two parties, of course, but very weak still. They can’t seek to join a government with Labour: Gordon Brown is obviously a non-starter, as over 70% of the population clearly don’t want him as PM; and would people put up with another ‘unelected’ Labour PM? I doubt it. To do this would be electoral suicide for the Lib Dems: in fact, I would go further – for the good of UK parliamentary democracy, they mustn’t do it. There would be riots. A Lib-Con alliance recognises the only absolutely certain result of this election, namely that Labour lost.

    Which means, they’ve got to reach a deal with the Tories. This is obviously not going to please anyone – Tory voters will be annoyed at any compromise on First Past the Post; Lib Dem voters will be annoyed at anything short of full PR. And both camps probably hate each other anyway. Well, here’s news for the lot of them: neither full PR nor full FPTP are going to result from the Lib-Con (perhaps it should be called ‘Whig’?!) deal. And that’s something everyone’s just got to accept. But, on the positive side, we’ll end up with a Cabinet and government that has been at least partly endorsed by 60% of the population – that’s got to be a victory for democracy, no? I mean, let’s not be children about this: we’re at least getting SOME of our sweeties, even if it’s not the full sweet shop.

  • Al

    I think much more attention should get paid to womens equality (or lack there of) under the new ConDem coalition. The issue of race equality is no where to be seen in the media either.
    The new cabinet are mainly white middle-aged men (two thirds of whom went to private school by the way) which is not progressive, is it? Theresa May is the new Home Secretary and Equality Minister and lets face it, she’s not going to have time to commit properly to both. From a total of 29 individuals attending cabinet, there will be just four women and one, Sayeeda Warsi, is unelected and a “minister without portfolio”. She is also the only non-white member.
    What happened to a progressive, diverse and ‘plural’ politics promised by Clegg? Change was supposed to be moving forward not taking a number of steps back. I’m not saying put women in cabinet just for the sake of it, if they can’t do the job (aka do back to Teresa May who thinks being a feminist is all about wearing a t-shirt for self-identification and voting appalling on equality issues, such as abortion and gay adoption.) There are a number of women in the ConDem alliance that could have been put forward for cabinet positions, albeit both parties are behind Labour in womens representation.
    Equality is definately one policy area in which the majority of the population, who are not represented by the cabinet, will have to watch.

  • Bill Sperco

    Why is Dr Jon Cruddas not standing? He is by far the best candidate!! A leadership election without him will be an opportunity sorely missed

  • John Green

    In an interview with the Daily Telegraph today, Mr. Balls said: “We just lost our way on some issues in the second term.”

    The fact of the matter is that Labour has lost all credibility after thirteen years of mendacity, sleaze and sheer, mind-boggling incompetence.

    On a personal front, the three architects of the New Labour project have shown themselves to be such unappealing characters: Blair the Liar, Brown, the economic incompetent who has dropped us all in the deepest, thickest “brown stuff” imaginable, and Mandleson, the Wicked Fairy, waving her malevolent wand over all and sundry. These three pantomime characters surrounded themselves with a host of political midgets, some of whom will now fight for the party leadership. We know from the many insiders who have published their diaries, that these characters did not trust each other and employed hosts of “advisors and spokespersons” to plot against each other. Why should anyone else trust them?

    Until the Labour party faces up to its deep flaws and short-comings, its future looks extremely bleak. It desperately needs some people with integrity, brains and political astuteness. It needs to replace Brown’s despicable and sordid “moral compass” with an ethos to inspire. I don’t see that happening sometime soon.


    I am surprised that Labour has not made more of the abolition of EMA. It really is a lifeline for poorer students and I fear its abolition will truly discourage poorer students from staying on at college. Surely that is retrogressive and will not help the poor. Is anybody on the progressive opposition side going to take up the EMA mantle??? Who is going to champion the rights of poorer students for whom the EMA is a necessity, not a luxury!!! Those poorer students whom Nick Clegg claims he is the champion of need to be supported throughout and after they have left school. Receipt of EMA can make all the difference between staying at college and doing nothing at all and becoming a NEAT

  • John

    I’m waiting for your critique of Jack Straw’s prisons policy against that of Ken Clarke’s. Would you dare publish anything that goes against the former?

  • Harry Barnes

    Have a look to see how this local initiative over the Labour leadership contest is going –
    Its birth is explained in the following item which I placed on the Fabiano Society web-site “Next Left” –
    Andy Burnham has replied and will produce a personal manifesto in line with our call. Our actions might now get replies out of the other 4 candidates. But backing and help to raise our profile would be welcome.


    I don’t think David Cameron should be sticking his thumb up very many more times, when they read the article by BRAWDY on MP Peter Lilley
    Posted on the web site for. HARPENDEN PEOPLE for all his constituents to read.
    When he is forced to Explain the Huge criminal Government action he played a major role in.
    There might be millions of people, like those the Roman Amphitheatres 2 thousands years ago, turning their thumbs “down” when they understand the implications of David Cameron’s Political part, along with MP Peter Lilley in the Conservatives “Lost” “Stolen” 3 Nuclear Weapons crime and the detonation of one of those Conservative weapons by North Korea on 25 May 2009.

    or even more Politically damaging, if the Derbyshire Police are forced to make PUBLIC, to the CHILCOTT INQUIRY or International Press, the “SECRET” ARMS TO IRAQ Files and Dossiers removed using a Court Proceeds of Crime order from former Intelligence Advisor to the Select Committee of the DTI

    Having been arrested in January 2010 in North Wales, she is using her “SECURITY BLANKETS” to protect her from prosecution, with details of ALL the DIRT on our CONSERVATIVE, LABOUR Politicians and High Profile VIP’s who were ALL involved in “ARMS TO IRAQ” Trade.

    But then, Just like The Cover-up’s in the
    PAN AM 103

    The Truth will eventually come out to HANG THEM ALL.

  • guest

    ffs…black on purple is impossible to read!

  • rcain

    agree with previous poster – black on purple is IMPOSSIBLE TO READ!

  • Bebop

    Amazing details of exactly what asylum seekers MUST BY LAW be given for free.

    Were you aware? No you were not… And you are not allowed to become aware either.

    Date: Thu, 17 May 2007


    We know they’re going to move asylum seekers in there. All the flats have been done up, central heating, the works. And they’ve put up brand new net curtains. That’s a sure sign.

    This is the kind of message that we have been hearing from angry locals all over Britain for the last couple of years. Many of the details change, but the total renovations and the highly visible net curtains crop up time and time again.

    So too do the denials by local councils that the premises concerned are going to house asylum seekers. And almost as regular is the spectacle of those same councils being forced to eat their words within weeks as local residents wake up to find that new neighbours from Albania and Somalia have been moved in overnight.

    The repetition of this pattern over the entire country has been something of a mystery up until now. Strangest of all has been the sight of so many councils telling lies to local residents and newspapers alike, even though the bureaucrats and local councillors telling the lies must know that they will be exposed and discredited within weeks. Just such a sequence of events, for example, played a major role in the by-election victory of our Robin Evans in Blackburn last autumn.

    Secret Tenancy Agreement

    The answers to this puzzle lies in a secret 26-page document the Revised Tenancy Agreement April 2001 – produced by the Secretary of State for the Home Office, acting through the Immigration and Nationality Directorate. Its very existence is supposed to be secret, Section 3 (p), on page 8 has this warning for people or companies thinking of making money out of housing asylum seekers:

    The Landlord’s attention is drawn to the Official Secrets Acts 1911-1989. The landlord shall take all reasonable steps to ensure that all individuals engaged on any work in connection with this Agreement have notice that these statutory provisions apply to them and shall continue to apply after the expiry or termination of the Term.

    I don’t know whether there is anything to make a reader who is not planning to be a signatory to the document subject to the provisions of the Official Secrets Act. I don’t know, and I don’t care. This document is so shocking that the truth about it has to be told. All I will say is that this article is published here solely on my authority, so if some Home Office legal bigwigs wants to prosecute over this shockingly democratic breach of their veil of secrecy, they know where to find me.

    The anti-free speech restrictions continue on page 9, although by this time the section numbers seem to have become somewhat confused and very unclear. The actual meaning of Section (a) (iii), however, is all too clear:

    The Landlord shall ensure that no press release or other public document containing Confidential Information is issued and shall not make any public statement concerning Confidential Information without the prior written approval of the Directorate and the Tenant Company as to its content and the manner and extent of its publication.

    This is the answer to one key asylum mystery. This is why local councils and private companies alike, which are providing accommodation for ‘refugees’, continually refuse to comment or lie about their role in housing asylum seekers. Once they’ve signed up to this Agreement, they simply don’t have a choice.

    Detailed list of items for asylum seekers

    So what doesn’t the Home Office want you to know? Take a look at Schedule 1 on page 14, and you can see for yourself:

    This list of requirements for any property being used to house asylum seekers begins, reasonably enough, by insisting that it shall be fit for human habitation, and have adequate light. Let us ignore the fact that many hundreds of thousands of our own people are either homeless or live in houses which are unfit for human habitation because, according to central government and local councils, there isn’t enough money to deal with all the problems.

    By the time we get to Section 1.3, the secret Agreement begins to lay out requirements which are beyond the reach not just of a relatively small number of the homeless or desperately poor:

    all meters shall be of the quarterly type, the use of card or key meters shall not be allowed.

    Isn’t that nice? If you and your family fall into arrears on your utility bills, particularly electricity, you have to agree to the installation of a card meter set at such a rate that it gobbles up money. British families with children can’t be officially cut off but if they run out of meter credit, their lights and heating go off anyway and they have to go to bed at dusk in the winter to try to keep warm. Such hardships are unacceptable, however, when it comes to asylum seekers.

    Section 1.7 insists that The Property shall have a full and safe central heating system installed. Paraffin or bottled gas fed heating systems shall not be used. Perish the thought! Such devices are fine for British pensioners and young families shivering on the poverty line, but far too smelly, inconvenient and dangerous for Mr Blunkett’s favourites.

    New electrical goods

    After laying down requirements on issues such as fire safety, the Schedule reaches Point 10: All electrical appliances in the Property shall be either new or, if second hand, shall be supplied complete with a twelve month guarantee. Well, I don’t know about you, but when my wife and I got married and set up home, we had to get our first electric cooker and heaters from an auction, completely without any guarantee at all. And, of course, ordinary British youngsters moving into places of their own still face the same choice between paying through the nose for new equipment or going without guarantees.

    Pages 15 and 16 go on to provide a long list of the things needed in the kitchen, living room, bedrooms and bathroom of each asylum property. As you’re probably expecting by now, this features everything from chip pans to teaspoons, from an easy chair for each bed space to a Boots first aid kit.

    The long ‘General’ list in Section 1.13 even proves that the popular observation about new net curtains showing that asylum seekers are moving in is true, since landlords are ordered to provide net & drawable curtains to all living rooms and bedrooms. They get everything, in fact, including the kitchen sink.

    Free colour TV and licence paid!

    One item does, however, stand out:

    For Each Living/Dining Room

    1 new twenty inch screen colour television complete with licence which shall be renewed at each annual anniversary of the Start Date throughout the Term.

    Native Brits, of course, have to wait until they are 75 to get a free TV licence, and non-payment of this iniquitous tax is the biggest single ‘crime’ that puts British women in prison.

    Many of those women can’t afford a TV licence because they are struggling to bring up young families on pitifully low incomes. As a result, they are also often unable to afford proper child safety equipment. No wonder, then, that the Home Office bureaucrats being so generous with our tax money wanted to keep Section 1.20 secret:

    Where there are to be children living in the Property, the Property shall include:

    Adequate cot and highchair facilities

    Appropriate sterilisation equipment;

    Child safety gates on all stairways;

    Childproof resistant devices or casement stays on all windows;

    Appropriate play areas both inside and outside the Property.

    Another thing that ordinary families on average incomes find a big problem is the occasional cost of major repairs. Asylum seekers have no such worries. Under this Agreement, the Landlord is bound to do all repairs within seven days, and to provide an emergency repair service (Section 1.23) where a threat to health and safety is apparent. The rest of us have to turn to Yellow Pages or pay for call out insurance, but it would be unfair to expect asylum seekers to do the same, wouldn’t it?

    Similarly favourable treatment is also specified in the Letting Provisions, Section (f) of which commits the Landlord to redecorate all parts of the Property in the third year of the Term. The rest of us may have to fork out down at “Do It All”, but not Mr Blunkett’s special guests.

    Perhaps most ludicrous of all, however, is the next section (g) of the Letting Provisions, whereby the Landlord agrees: To have the exterior of all windows of the Property cleaned once every twelve weeks. I kid you not, it’s there on page 7. What would George Formby have had to say about it?

    Who pays?

    So what do all these modcons and services cost the lucky occupants of such premises? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. When various bleeding heart liberals tell us how asylum seekers only get basic income support payments, they don’t tell us about the Letting Provisions on page 4 of the Home Office’s Revised Tenancy Agreement, do they? Yet these show that not only do asylum seekers get their TV licences paid for them, we also pick up the tab for their rent, water rates, gas, electricity and council tax bills.

    Surely, you must think, these people must want to spend night after night on the phone to all their friends and family back home, telling them all about the wonders of Soft Touch Britain? A lot of their pocket money must go on paying the phone bill? No, as you probably guessed, they don’t have to pay a penny. Section 1 ((b) of the Letting Provisions sets out the fact that the Tenant Company (funded by the taxpayer) agrees to pick up the phone bill for every single property provided by the Landlord in question to asylum seekers.

    Don’t forget that every single council or housing association in this land which is housing asylum seekers has signed this document. Thousands of councillors in the ruling party in Labour, Lib Dem and Tory councils alike have either read this document or studiously avoided seeing it so they didn’t have to.

  • Gerry Oates

    I try to email your email address but they say it isnt valid ?