Open left - Demos

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we mean power | James Purnell • Graeme Cooke

Fifteen years after the revision of Clause IV and over a decade since Labour came to office, the centre-Left needs to revisit fundamental questions about what it stands for and the sort of society it seeks. The twin crisis of the credit crunch and MPs’ expenses – combined with the forthcoming general election – only make this task more urgent. This collection of essays testifies to the vitality of thinking across the modern Left. It shows that its traditions and values are both rich and relevant to today’s problems. The essays confront the central ideological tensions facing the centre-Left, such as its attitude to equality, political economy, community and identity, and power and democracy. By drawing on a range of perspectives, this collection demonstrates how openness and pluralism can be combined with the confidence that there is much that unites the British centre-Left as we move into the second decade of the new century. Amid the complexity and diversity of the ideas expressed throughout the collection, a simple goal emerges: powerful people in a reciprocal society. This goal embodies the best of Labour’s traditions and can provide a fertile ground for policy, organisation, governance and the long-term political future of the Left.

we mean power ideas for the future of the left Edited by James Purnell and Graeme Cooke

James Purnell is a Labour MP and Director of the Open Left project at Demos. Graeme Cooke is Head of Open Left.

ISBN: 978 1 906693 33 6 £10 © Demos 2010


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This collection was produced by Demos’ Open Left project. Open Left aims to renew the arguments and ideas of the centre-Left. Its goal is to create a space for open debate and new thinking about the kind of society Britain should be and how to bring it about. This should be based on idealism, pluralism and radicalism.

Contributors Andrew Gamble is Professor of Politics at the University of Cambridge Maurice Glasman is Director of the faith and citizenship programme at London Metropolitan University

Find out more at Ben Jackson is a Fellow and Tutor in Modern History at University College, Oxford University Mike Kenny is Professor of Politics at the University of Sheffield David Miller is Professor of Political Theory at the University of Oxford Richard Reeves is Director of Demos and author of John Stuart Mill: Victorian Firebrand Meg Russell is a Reader in British and Comparative Politics and Deputy Director of the Constitution Unit at University College London Marc Stears is a Fellow in Politics at University College, University of Oxford Stuart White is a Lecturer in Politics and Tutorial Fellow at Jesus College, University of Oxford Jonathan Wolff is Professor of Philosophy at University College London

Demos is an independent think-tank focused on power and politics. We develop and spread ideas to give people more power over their own lives. Our vision is of a democracy of powerful citizens, with an equal stake in society. Demos has several core research programmes in 2010: Capabilities, Citizenship, Security, Economic Life, Progressive Austerity and Extremism. We also have two political research programmes: the Progressive Conservatism Project and Open Left, investigating the future of the centre-Right and centre-Left. In all our work we bring together people from a wide range of backgrounds to develop ideas that will shape debate in the UK and beyond, and engage a broad and diverse audience worldwide. Find out more about our work at

First published in 2010 © Demos. Some rights reserved Magdalen House, 136 Tooley Street, London, SE1 2TU, UK ISBN 978 1 906693 33 6 Series design by modernactivity Typeset by Chat Noir Design, Charente Printed by Lecturis