How can progressives conquer the new centre-ground?

The battle for the centre-ground will decide the next election; Left Foot Forward previews the 2012 Progress Annual Conference.

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By Simon Jeffrey, Events Officer, Progress

The battle for the centre-ground will decide the next election.

Progress-The-New-Centre-Ground-Annual-Conference-2012On May 12th, Progress Annual Conference, which Left Foot Forward is media partnering, will provide the opportunity for members of the shadow cabinet, local government leaders, members, trade unionists and and an array of pollsters, commentators and members of the think tank community to examine what the notion of a ‘new centre-ground’ means, and how Labour can win it.

Labour’s leader, Ed Miliband, will give the keynote speech to the conference, which takes place at the TUC Congress Centre, 28 Great Russell Street, London, WC1B 3LS.

The morning sessions will focus on the question of, in a time of shrinking budgets, what policies Labour can offer that hold true to our progressive values and help the people we seek to represent. What does this massively constrained spending mean for welfare, public services, business and the role of the state?

In the afternoon the politics of winning will be the centre of attention. Does the likely success of Francois Hollande and Barack Obama suggest the tide could be turning for the centre-left? How will the results of the upcoming local elections, especially those in the south, affect the build up to 2015? And what should a modern union link look like?


See also:

It’s all about turnout – how to turf the Tories out of City Hall 24 Apr 2012


To have your say in the debate, book your place at If you aren’t a member of Progress, entry to the conference is free when you join at Left Foot Forward is a media partner for the event, and if you can’t make it on the day, follow Left Foot Forward’s coverage of the conference here.

You can view the full line-up of the conference here:

10.15am: Opening plenary

• Is there a new centre-ground – and how does Labour win it?

Liam Byrne MP, shadow work and pensions secretary; Phil Collins, columnist, The Times and former chief speechwriter to the prime minister; Peter Kellner, president, YouGov; Mary Riddell, columnist, The Daily Telegraph; Chair: Andrew Adonis, chair, Progress.

11.15am: Morning breakout sessions

• Economic credibility: Are we all fiscal conservatives now?

Chris Leslie MP, shadow city minister; Meg Hillier MP, public accounts select committee; Anthony Painter, author and critic.

• Restoring the contributory principle: Whither equality?

Stephen Timms MP, shadow employment minister; John Mann MP, Treasury select committee; Alison Garnham, chief executive, Child Poverty Action Group; Maurice Glasman, academic and Labour peer.

• Value for money: How should progressives reform the public sector?

Stephen Twigg MP, shadow education secretary; Liz Kendall MP, shadow minister for care and older people; Andy Harrop, general secretary, Fabian Society; Hopi Sen, Labour blogger.

• Sustainable growth: How should progressives reform the private sector?

Chuka Umunna MP, shadow business, innovation and skills secretary; Tim Hames, BVCA; Kitty Ussher, associate fellow, Smith Institute.

• The role of government: Is the era of the big state dead?

Ivan Lewis MP, shadow secretary international development secretary; Cllr. Steve Reed, leader, Lambeth council; Paul Richards, author and Progress columnist; David Walker, contributing editor, Guardian Public.

12.30pm: Lunch

1.30pm: Keynote speech

Ed Miliband MP; Chair: Alison McGovern MP.

2.30pm: Afternoon breakout sessions

• From Hollande to Obama: Towards a social democratic recovery?

Douglas Alexander MP, shadow foreign secretary; Denis MacShane MP; Matt Browne, visiting fellow, Centre for American Progress; Axelle Lemaire, Parti Socialiste candidate, Northern Europe.

• After 3 May: Where next for Labour in London?

David Lammy MP; Lewis Baston, Democratic Audit; Cllr. Claire Kober, leader, Haringey council; Cllr. Wes Streeting, Redbridge council.

• Chronic discomfort: Where is the southern revival?

John Denham MP, PPS to Ed Miliband; Cllr. Sharon Taylor, leader, Stevenage borough council; Joan Ryan, former MP, Enfield North; Bobby Duffy, Ipsos MORI.

• Three years to go: What will the electoral landscape be in 2015?

Mary Creagh MP, shadow environment, food and rural affairs secretary; Andrew Adonis, chair, Progress; Steve Van Riel, political consultant and former head of policy at the Labour party.

• Labour and the unions: What should a modernized link look like?

Nita Clarke, IPA; Phil Collins, columnist, The Times and former chief speechwriter to the prime minister; John Hannett, general secretary, Usdaw.

3.45pm: Break

4pm: Closing Plenary

• Progress Question Time

Caroline Flint MP, shadow energy and climate change secretary; Gisela Stuart MP; David Aaronovitch, author and columnist, The Times; Jacqui Smith, former home secretary; Chair: Simon Fanshawe.

5pm: Close

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