David Blunkett was speaking in a debate on the Queens Speech; focusing on the cost of living, in the House of Commons on May 14th.
In his speech he condemmed the 'politics of resentment'.
You can watch Blunkett's speech at the link below,
David Blunkett was speaking in a debate on the Queens Speech; focusing on the cost of living, in the House of Commons on May 14th.
In his speech he condemmed the 'politics of resentment'.
You can watch Blunkett's speech at the link below,
‘Where there is discord, we will bring harmony.’ Yes, this was St Francis of Assisi! On 4 May 1979, Margaret Hilda Thatcher had the audacity to regurgitate this quotation at the beginning of dividing the nation in a way that had not been seen since the overthrow of Charles I.
Speaking for the nation as a whole entails understanding and feeling the pain, as well as understanding the aspiration of the different cultural, social and political make-up of the nation. That is Labour’s challenge today.
At the heart of our politics and as an expression of our values, rests an all-embracing yet simple philosophy of our humanity. Namely, that we have a mutual interdependence which springs from a bond of parent to child, and is writ large in different ways and through various cultures, from extended family and physical community to nation state and the desire for protection and security.
Reciprocity helps us balance the need for self-determination and creative individuality with mutual hope, and therefore what might be described as ‘solidarity’.
As we say, ‘we can achieve so much more together than we can divided’. Balancing the common good with the freedom and liberty to exercise that individuality has been and remains a challenge for those committed to democracy, while understanding that the Polis ensures our participation and therefore our citizenship.
At its crudest we need to understand where power lies, how it is exercised and by whom, and what can be achieved through coming together and working collectively to protect ourselves from exploitation, to promote the best interests of what has come to be known as ‘society’. The existence of which was bizarrely denied in that famous Woman’s Own interview with Margaret Thatcher!
The clash between capital and labour, between those seeking to maximise profit and those with only their toil to sell, was of course the driving force for the creation of the trade unions in the 19th century. Coupled as it was with the crusade to increase the franchise and enable people to have a political voice, we saw the development of an understanding of how people united together in a particular cause could give themselves some chance of being empowered, no matter how modestly.
The reshaping of Ed Miliband’s ‘One Nation Britain’ is an endeavour to articulate that belief, that what we do to others engineers the circumstances which benefit or damage ourselves and our family.
The ill-educated child is a drain on our economic prosperity, productivity and competitiveness, as well as a waste of talent and an immoral denial of the nurturing of every child.
At its crudest the ill-health of others is a drain on our taxes, even if, as a minority, people decide to buy themselves out of that service.
Few people can escape from the wider environment in which they live and work. Again, most crudely, unsafe, ill-lit and filthy streets can be avoided by the very rich for most of the time but for the majority of people only part of the time.
But ‘One Nation’ cannot and should never be simply the avoidance of the most obvious injustice or collective suicide. It has to be about a great deal more than politics built on grievance and the unhappiness of a resentful and selfish public sphere. More than putting right the playing-off of public sector workers against those in private enterprise. The retired versus the young, the migrant versus the resentful and excluded. Or, the badly housed versus the homeless.
In other words, replacing the politics of Conservative division with a morally more superior and a politically more cohesive engagement.
For if we are to pull the nations of Britain together, the inner city with the rural hinterland, the more affluent south-east with the once-powerful and prosperous economic engine room of the north, it is involvement and that mutual sense of purpose which will be so vital.
Bringing people together, for their own benefit but also to counterweight global economic forces and powerful vested interests, will not only bring material gain, it will also be educative, informative and empowering.
One simple example (which, ironically, the present government are assisting) is what has become known as the Big Switch. Bringing people together to use the power of collective bargaining to reduce energy bills. This example can be seen as an essential part of the purpose of modern local government, as well as reinforcing civil society.
What, therefore, if a radical incoming Labour government offered the opportunity of both influence and affluence by engaging the power of people in underpinning the macro action in the economic and social policy of the government. Government and people together.
To fail to pay even minimal taxes in major developed countries is a scandal, but one that does not have to be tolerated. Yes, of course government has to act (sensibly) in cooperation with like-minded representative democracies elsewhere. But it has also a common-sense duty to mobilise and support its own electorate.
Boycotts have been used effectively over the decades in different parts of the world to combat injustice. The ‘strike’ of the consumer can and should be effective. Governments cannot and should not do this for people, but there is no reason at all why they should not facilitate and support such action.
Equally, changing the way in which we deliver our public services (as opposed to simply slashing and burning) offers common cause as much in Berkshire or Bedfordshire as it does in Bury or Bolton.
Back in the late 19th and early 20th century, municipal enterprise was the driving force for innovation and enterprise in creating not only availability of clean water, but gas and electricity. The Goose and Burial Clubs of EP Thompson’s ‘The Making of the English Working Class’ was followed by the creation of the embryo welfare state – bottom up, not top down.
So ‘earned entitlement’, the balancing of rights and duties, an understanding of mutual responsibility based on self-reliance, are ingrained in the values of those who count themselves to be social democrats.
Above all, in a rapidly changing world where global forces determine so much of our lives, from the elbow room of our elected representatives even to the survival of our planet, rooting what we stand for in the sense of belonging, wellbeing of the people we call our ‘fellow citizens’ and the liberation of talent has to be both common sense and good politics.
Turning this into practical reality that touches the day-to-day lives of those people is the challenge for the politics of the moment.
David Blunkett MP challenges growth of Food Bank Britain Yesterday (Tuesday 26th February), David Blunkett, the Member of Parliament for Sheffield Brightside and Hillsborough visited a 'pop-up' food bank outside the Houses of Parliament, to draw attention to growing poverty and the reliance on food parcels in the UK.
Mr Blunkett visited the Unite food bank at a time when reliance on food support is rocketing. The number of people supported by food banks has grown from 2,800 in 2005-06 to over 128,000 in 2011-12, while Britain's largest network of food banks, the Trussell Trust, predicts that they will need to support in excess of 260,000 people over the next year.
On Monday (25th February) the Department for the Environment announced that it was going to examine why there has been a surge in the demand for food support.
People turn to food banks in times of desperation - usually because of an unexpected bill, or the miscalculation of welfare cuts, but more and more because of shrinking wages and rising living costs.
Mr Blunkett warned that further benefit cuts, due to impact from April 2013 on people both in and out of work, will force ever greater numbers to rely on emergency food support.
The pop-up food bank appeared as the Welfare Benefits Uprating Bill is being debated by the House of Lords. This Bill seeks to place a real terms cut on all benefits, by capping annual rises to a below inflation 1 per cent. Some 60 per cent of those households affected by this cap will be in work.
The influential Institute for Fiscal Studies predicts that as many as seven million working households will be hit by the uprating cap, by an average of £165 per year. These factors are set to significantly increase food and fuel poverty, leaving growing numbers of people reliant on food banks.
Speaking at the event Mr Blunkett said: "The work carried out by food banks - like The Trussell Trust - in giving vital supplies to people both in and out of work is invaluable. They provide a lifeline to people in dire need. "
However, it is appalling that this level of support is needed in 21st century Britain and at the same time this government is set to give huge tax breaks to millionaires from April.
"There are four food banks in my constituency alone, and whilst the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has the lowest number of children in poverty anywhere in Britain at less than 5%, the figure is 34% in my constituency of Sheffield Brightside and Hillsborough.”
David Blunkett stands up to prejudice by signing Holocaust Memorial Day Book of Commitment Last week David Blunkett signed a Book of Commitment in the House of Commons, in doing so pledging his commitment to Holocaust Memorial Day and honouring those who died during the Holocaust.
Sunday January 27th marked the 68th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the Nazi concentration and extermination camp which is the site of the largest mass murder in history. In the weeks running up to the day, the Holocaust Educational Trust placed a Book of Commitment in the House of Commons, giving MPs the chance to honour those who were persecuted and killed during the Holocaust and encouraging constituents to work together to combat prejudice and racism today.
In signing the Book of Commitment, Mr Blunkett paid tribute to those who perished during the Holocaust and honoured the extraordinary Holocaust survivors who work tirelessly to educate young people about what they endured, through the Holocaust Educational Trust’s Outreach programme.
In the weeks leading up to and after Holocaust Memorial Day, thousands of commemorative events will be arranged by schools, faith groups and community organisations across the country, remembering all the victims of the Holocaust and subsequent genocides. This year, people will also be encouraged to honour those communities that have been destroyed by genocide and reflect on the importance of coming together to oppose prejudice and hatred.
Mr Blunkett said: “Holocaust Memorial Day is an important opportunity to remember the victims of the Holocaust and subsequent genocides. I encourage all constituents to mark the day and to join members of community in the fight against prejudice and intolerance.”
Karen Pollock MBE, Chief Executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust, said: “We are proud that Mr Blunkett is supporting Holocaust Memorial Day this year. It is vitally important that we both remember and learn from the appalling events of the Holocaust – as well as ensuring that we continue to challenge all forms of hatred and bigotry.”
David Blunkett MP speaking in the House of Commons on Monday 3rd December following the release of the long awaited Leveson Report.
Two famous Sheffielders are meeting to talk about their love of the Peak District and raise money for charity. Best-selling author Marina Lewycka will be in conversation with MP David Blunkett about what the landscapes of the National Park mean to them in Sheffield this Thursday.
An Audience with David Blunkett and Marina Lewycka is being organised by countryside charity Friends of the Peak District1. It is taking place at the Victoria Hall Methodist Church in central Sheffield on Thursday 22 November at 7.30pm.
“The one thing that certainly unites men and women of all backgrounds and persuasions, past and present, is the joy of the Peak District. It is the lung which helped so many people to survive though the industrial revolution and beyond, which bring enormous pleasure to millions. I hope to combine a light hearted look at my life with my own genuine love for the glories of walking, talking and breathing God’s air in the Peaks,” said David Blunkett.
"David Blunkett and I are both passionate about the Peak District, and strong supporters of Friends of the Peak District's campaigns to protect it for everybody. I'm sure we'll have a lot to say, and it'll be hard to stop us once we get going," said Marina Lewycka.
“We are absolutely thrilled to have these two Sheffield icons supporting our work,” said Andy Tickle, Director of Friends of the Peak District. “It promises to be a fascinating conversation about culture, life and the countryside, and will include a chance for people to ask questions too.”
Tickets for An Audience with David Blunkett and Marina Lewycka cost £12 and include mint tea and pastries from local caterers Absolutely CousCous. For tickets or more information ring 0114 266 5822 or see www.friendsofthepeak.org.uk
Attending the national Local Authority Services for Young People Annual Conference held in Sheffield today (Tuesday 6th November 2012), Rt. Hon. David Blunkett, former Education and Home Secretary and MP for Sheffield Brightside and Hillsborough, gave the keynote speech. Mr Blunkett said:
“At a time when around a million 18-25 year olds find themselves out of education, training or employment there is a real danger of deep disillusionment and resentment by young people across the country at the withdrawal of key support services, and an imbalance across the generations in terms of the burden being born of the global meltdown and the Coalition Government’s austerity programme.”
“From the abolition of the Child Trust Fund, which would have provided18 year olds with a £10,000 nest egg for training, further education or a contribution towards a deposit on a home, through to the withdrawal of key support through the Education Maintenance Allowance, young people are bearing a disproportionate burden.”
“Early years provision and Sure Start programmes to nurture children from the earliest age are being slashed. Youth services have taken an enormous hit and careers services are in limbo. The temporary job programme, which offered a six-month real taste of employment, has been abolished and, as well as taking away maintenance for young people from disadvantaged backgrounds staying on at college, university fees have been tripled.”
“Even where the Government have endeavoured to provide some incentive for young people to take up apprenticeships, the all-party House of Commons Select Committee have found that many of the schemes on offer are poor quality, in areas where employers were already offering low level training sand therefore provide little long term gain. This is indeed extremely worrying.”
“All this adds up to extremely bad news at a time when we should be offering hope, and the prospects of self-reliance and personal responsibility for the next generation on which we as families and the nation, depend.
“That is why shortly I will be announcing the establishment of a new charitable foundation Future For Youth which will seek to draw together public funds and business contributions to offer a menu of opportunity, and to make sense of the fractured and hard to understand plethora of schemes and short term experiences now facing those who are unemployed.”
“Working together it is possible to create an alliance which will be on the side of young people and in turn will ask their commitment to building a future worth having.”
“I am challenging today Local Authorities to work with the new Foundation to create initial pathfinder programmes, which will build into a national scheme offering at least eight or nine months of full time experience that will provide the foundation for individual prosperity and active citizenship by the generation that is in danger of being badly let down by us all.”
David Blunkett MP publishes In Defence of Politics Revisited
MP for Sheffield Brightside and Hillsborough and the former Home Secretary David Blunkett has today (Monday 17th September 2012) called for a wide-ranging overhaul of the political process to counter the growing trend towards anti politics, technocracy, and alarming levels of disengagement.
In a pamphlet endorsed by Labour Party leader Ed Miliband, who has written the foreword, Blunkett has sought to intervene in the ongoing debate within the Labour Party as part of the Policy Review, and in the build up to this year’s Labour Party Conference.
In Defence of Politics Revisited concentrates on how the relationship between government, governed and the political process should be reformed in order to retain legitimacy. By revitalising our democracy, and concentrating on those concerns uppermost in the minds of the British people, it will be possible to reengage men and women as active citizens.
In the pamphlet, which commemorates the fiftieth anniversary of the seminal work by Professor Sir Bernard Crick, In Defence of Politics, concrete suggestions are offered as to how people could be engaged in organising to take on vested interests, to campaign against unacceptable global forces, and to receive government backing in achieving substantial change in their own lives and communities.
In seeking to combine the power of men and women in their own lives with the resources available to government, the pamphlet identifies how it might be possible to provide a countervailing force to unfettered global markets whilst recognising that markets are here to stay. A bottom up rather than a top down approach would help to restore faith in the political process, whilst also finding some answers in a rapidly changing and often threatening world.
Alongside this, Blunkett outlines how, in a very different public service landscape, school governors and trustees could be empowered to provide new forms of accountability in the very varied and pluralistic framework that now exists.
Other forms of accountability and answerability would have to be developed for services as diverse as the health service with its new forms of commissioning procedures, and Police and Crime Commissioners with relationships between the community and law enforcement. In each case, the objective would be to mobilise people in their own immediate environment to ensure that either through co-delivery or reformed ways of delivering social enterprise, the concept of public service can be defended.
The thrust of the original In Defence of Politics sought to demonstrate:
A) Democracy cannot function without the engagement of people in the political process and trust in politics;
B) Politics itself is a messy business involving compromise as well as vision and values; and
C) Political engagement provides a counterweight to the financial and global markets and the power exercised over the lives of those without wealth and privilege.
Today, unregulated and unaccountable credit rating agencies continue to wield enormous power over governments, never mind the lives of individuals, making more important than ever the reassertion of democratic politics as a force for balancing global power.
David Blunkett said:
“The last five years of political and economic turmoil has resulted in politics and politicians losing still further trust and confidence by the people on whose behalf action is taken.”
“In the case of sovereign nations such as Greece and Italy, governments have been removed through external forces. The financial markets have, in effect, reasserted themselves following the banking crisis – at a time when elected politicians should have been demonstrating an effective counterweight to the failures of those very markets.”
“In addition, faith in democratic institutions, the media and broader political processes has fallen to dangerously low levels, as demonstrated in the 2012 Audit of Political Engagement by the Hansard Society. Their survey revealed the proportion of the public who say they are ‘very’ or ‘fairly’ interested in politics has dropped by 16% and now stands at 42%, falling below 50% for the first time since the audits began.”
“In the teeth of a crisis, the narrative should have been to explain why politics mattered and still matters, but this reassertion of democracy over global forces was missing from 2008 onwards, allowing a credible explanation to go unheeded.”
“In order to defend politics and therefore political democracy, we need to change the way in which we ‘do’ our politics. By placing the power of government behind innovative and mutual self-help and successful political campaigning, it would be possible to foster a new spirit of engagement with the political process.”
Labour leader Ed Miliband said:
“David Blunkett’s reconsideration of Bernard Crick’s In Defence of Politics is timely. Sadly, politics needs defending in this country. Few people believe it can really change the world around them. Few believe that politicians are much different from each other, and few vote. When politics becomes an increasingly minority activity, no politician or party can gain a good mandate to make the radical changes this country needs.”
The main recommendations include:
- Government prepared to use resources to assist people in taking on vested interests through sponsoring and supporting mutual action: assisting directly with campaigns to bring about the radical change in support of wider civil society objectives – such as the Make Poverty History campaign in the early part of this century.
One example cited recently is mutual action under The Big Switch, which saw almost 40,000 households negotiate a better deal in relation to domestic energy consumption.
- Government to directly back communities in the development of social capital: funding the expansion of community leadership programmes, the development and delivery of local neighbourhood budgeting and the direct running of local services by local people, including co-delivery and personal involvement in the provision of services.
- Revitalising accountability: in education and health, outsourced services as well as local and central government
- Innovative approaches to finance: pioneering alternative ways of tackling the gap between rich and poor – those with and those without assets – by sustaining long term action to combat inequality and unfairness, in other words a ‘fair chance’, as outlined by Ed Miliband earlier this year.
This should include lifelong accounts developed jointly between the individual and contributed to through government funding, and a reassertion of earned entitlement in relation to the welfare state. A return to mutual forms of saving and investment, including local and regional investment banks, must also be considered, as well as the use of pension funds with member involvement
- The development of microcredit (and affordable loans) to provide acceptable rates of interest to millions of people caught up through exploitative levels of APR, which would also be linked to bottom-up job creation: the task of linking rights and responsibilities would be enhanced by joining up with the Troubled Families programme to bring about lasting change and to break the cycle of intergenerational disadvantage.
- Extending the concept of ‘predistribution’ by placing emphasis on lifelong learning as a means of ‘growing’ income, alongside skills, taking low-paid opportunities into sustainable long term improvement: combining public and private, talent and funding, as was the case with the Olympic and Paralympic games, government can be represented as ‘enabling’ rather than ‘constraining’.
- Refocusing politics on core issues to concentrate political action on what matters most to individuals and families: taking on the big issues of an ageing population and affordable retirement, and mobilising civil society through volunteering (including direct support to the million young people out of work and training). Indeed, for great exmaples of what young people can do, please see the projects at http://www.philiplawrenceawards.net/awards/2011-awards/
David Blunkett added:
“Twenty years on from the ignominious withdrawal from the Exchange Rate Mechanism, it is time once again to reassert political decision-taking over economic dogma. We must place faith in those individuals who have given up their sovereignty in order to combine through government to offer some influence on global forces over which no one family or individual can exercise any sway.”
“Credit rating agencies and the bond markets are phenomena which have changed the relationship between sovereign democratically elected governments and their own electorate, as well as between governments and global forces.”
“Facing up to the challenge of providing social care and handling the legacy of reshaped public services will by necessity require imagination and creative thinking, including reshaping the role of government in years to come.”
“Above all, thinking again as to how best to touch those who feel alienated not only from politics but from the process of public life and decision-taking. In other words, from the society in which they live and hopefully work.”
A large-scale volunteer programme is critical to the wellbeing of young people and the nation as a whole, former Cabinet Minister David Blunkett has said. It is needed to help address the enormous number of under-25s unable to find employment, as well as instilling values of responsibility and respect that were clearly absent among those involved in the riots this August.
Reiterating calls by newspaper columnists, educators, politicians and even His Royal Highness Prince Charles, Mr Blunkett has stated that we need to return to the concept of a properly funded, well-organised community based youth volunteer programme. A recent YouGov survey published in the Sunday Times revealed that such a proposal would have overwhelming support, finding that 77% would back ‘national citizen service’ – a compulsory period of community service for all young people.
Echoing Ed Milliband in his call to consider the deplorable principles of those involved in the riots, Mr Blunkett said: “It can be seen that a National Volunteer Programme has widespread support.
“It is clear that many young people in the areas affected by the riots are growing up with values that are incompatible with a fit and flourishing society.
“In the light of the disturbances, criminality and looting, it is now time to address the broader question of how we change values and attitudes fundamentally, so that mutuality and reciprocity come high on the public agenda.”
According to the most recent estimates, the jobless rate among 16 to 24-year-olds now stands at 949,000 (or 20.2%). It has been estimated that less than 1 in 10 of those dealt with by the courts in the first two weeks after the disturbances in August were in a job or education.
Mr Blunkett said: “we can see that low employment rates exacerbate a culture of no hope, where the power and image that comes from being part of a gang is a much more accessible and attractive offer than a job. A culture of dependency and victimhood prevails, and opportunities to escape are limited.”
Yet, noting some of the other major challenges Britain will face in the coming decades, Mr Blunkett argues that a National Volunteer Programme is also an opportunity to help us prepare to deal with these growing issues: “There is an enormous amount that can be done to provide a positive outlet and major gains for our society as a whole. Britain is facing significant challenges over the coming decades. With an ageing population, the Dilnot Enquiry showed that the cost of old age care is going to be a vast strain on our budget. Yet, this challenge will only grow as people live longer.
“We should see a National Volunteer Programme as not just an answer for those who participate, but also as part of the solution for these growing problems. Participants could volunteer in care homes, or assist with support in the homes of those needing help to enable older people to stay in their own home for longer.”
The National Volunteer Programme (NVP) would be assumed to be taken up by young people over the age of 16. For instance, young people could participate before going on to training or apprenticeship programmes, or between leaving school or college and going to university.
The programme would be on a nine month basis and would be geared to social, educational and environmental programmes that would aim to transform the community and provide confidence building, self esteem and new experiences for all young people. There would be a proper stipend for the participants and, where they were away from home, accommodation and food.
This would be in addition to the National Citizen Service. The experience gained on that six week programme would enable young people to choose which areas of the new full time programme they would wish to take up.
Whilst the programme is voluntary, Mr Blunkett would want to build in incentives designed to help young people in their future life. It would provide them with a passport that would have financial as well as other benefits accredited to it, which could be redeemed either in relation to university fees or for particular start up programmes for employment, continuing training or a deposit for accommodation.
Mr Blunkett’s blueprint has so far received positive feedback from leading organisations in the third sector, including the Prince’s Trust and The Outward Bound Trust.
Mr Blunkett has been researching and developing plans for a National Volunteer Programme for several years. Since 1997, he has served as Secretary of State for Education and Employment, with responsibility for the Millennium Volunteer Programme and the Citizenship curriculum; Home Secretary, with responsibility for citizenship and voluntary action; and Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, with responsibility for Job Centre Plus and programmes for the employment of young people.
For Parents, Policemen, Park Keepers and Politicians
By Gerald Bower
Keep off the grass.
The ruling of some pompous ass?
Or was it from a wiser sage
who knew that kids of any age
all need a code,
to keep them on that narrow road,
that leads them to respect and care
for things and people everywhere.
Alas the lawn's no longer tended
And the grass is undefended.
To render council tax the cheaper,
Lowest tender is the keeper.
When caring and respect are lost,
How then do we count the cost.
So thin before you sow your seed
in compost that is based on greed.
Thank you to Gerald Bower from Sheffield for sending this in. He wrote this poem in the late 1990s, and the sentiments are just as appropriate today.