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This Weekend Must Be The Moment Labour Thinks Big And Bold About The Future The Left Faces

14/01/2017 09:16 GMT | Updated 14/01/2017 09:16 GMT
Lauren Hurley/PA Archive

This weekend, Fabians from across the country will be meeting for our annual New Year conference. A new year is a time for fresh beginnings, and it has never felt more important for the left to face the future than now. Challenges - economic, political, our future security - are mounting, here and around the world. This new year's conference must be the moment when we think big and bold about how we address those challenges; the moment when we step up to the plate.

We start of course from our values: collectivism, justice, equality and rights. But let's not pretend that makes the task easy - tensions and trade-offs don't go away. What's important this weekend, with so much thinking power in the room (Fabians love to think!), and with time out to share and test ideas, is that we face up honestly to the hardest decisions we face. No lazy thinking, no ducking the toughest, most complex questions, no avoiding the contradictions or contrary views. We have a stellar programme of speakers this weekend, and I'm asking every one of them to lead us in courageous and rigorous debate.

The politics of where we find ourselves demand that we do so - the electoral task facing us couldn't be greater. We remain far behind in the polls - and the threat comes simultaneously from opposing political directions. As Andy Harrop showed in his report, Stuck, recently, Labour has to square the circle that requires us both to gain the support of people who backed remaining in the European Union, and that of those who voted to leave. We have to find the policies that appeal to our 'metropolitan' vote, and to 'left-behind' Labour heartland communities. And while hanging on to our existing voters, we also have to regain those who voted for us in 1997, 2001 and 2005, but have deserted us since then. We have to prove to every one of those voters whose support we seek that Labour can deliver for them.

This is more than an electoral challenge, however; there's a moral imperative for us to grapple with the future we face. The bold ideas we need to tackle inequality, poverty, changing demography, technological revolution, the threats faced by our planet, to security and peace, have always been led by the left. The Labour movement has been the greatest force for social progress this country has known in the past hundred years, and our policies have transformed lives. At a time when the future looks so perilous, I firmly believe we have a duty to be in the frontline of radical, evidenced, principled thought. At our conference this weekend, Fabians will take on that challenge.

Kate Green is the Labour MP for Stretford and Urmston and chair of the Fabian Society. The Fabian Society New Year Conference takes place on Saturday 14 June, the full programme can be read here