Dr Eoin Clarke, founder of GEER (Gender, Environment, Equality and Race), and Editor of The Green Benches, writes about GEER's vision for Labour's future.
GEER, a new left wing think tank, launched yesterday in Parliament; the Labour Left have outlined their stall. Grahame Morris MP, Kelvin Hopkins MP and myself spoke at length how we wish to put principles back into policy making.
The panel agreed that under Ed Miliband Labour have now got an opportunity, as the Parliamentary Labour Party is more healthily balanced than it has been for a decade; we agreed that it is up to the party leadership to chart a course for Labour.
GEER’s role will be to aid that by putting forward constructive policies to halt the consumerisation of our services. It was agreed by all that private profit has no place in health and educational provision. The obsession with aspirationalism and middle England, we felt, was the greatest error of New Labour as was the fixation with winning the votes of the middle classes.
Class is not the only measurement of someone’s identity as increasingly race, gender and sexuality are just as important features of someone’s makeup. It was accepted that in the past the Labour Left has not always pro-actively married its principles with race and gender equality – the answer is to unite the different social groups in our society.
Women must play a much more prominent position in policy considerations. The work/life balance needs to be addressed. Wage transparency, equalisation and progression towards a living wage will be key goals of GEER. So, too, we must resist the readiness of some in the party to blame our woes on immigration. It is true that people have genuine fears about immigration and the European Union has had a dramatic and not always positive impact on UK society but the answer is not scaremongering.
We must improve the housing stock of our country so that private rents rise more slowly, and so that ordinary hard working families have access to affordable rental housing. This would put much less pressure on race relations, and this must be the future for Labour.
We in GEER are not seeking to overthrow capitalism but damned if we trust it. It needs a much tighter leash to ensure restraint than it has hitherto failed to exercise. Profits must not be hinged on consumer led growth. This means stronger powers for pricing regulators and a more responsible approach to profit. Business should be rewarded for its enterprise, but not when that enterprise exploits society by having a lasting damaging effect on the moral health of society, or indeed the environmental future of our children.
You can read a more detailed review of the launch on The Green BenchesLike this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.