Where New Labour went wrong

28 April 2005
James Humphries knows a thing or two about politics and presentation, having - reportedly - sat across a desk from Alastair Campbell when he was as a strategy advisor to Tony Blair.

Now, as Green Party candidate for the London consituency of South Islington, he gives an insider's view of how decisions are really made. Here's a money quote from yesterday's Guardian:

Like others, I did wonder why we had to wait two years for a white paper on sustainable development when the Bank of England could be given its independence within a week. The reality was that the environment did not then have enough "saliency" to be a true priority for New Labour.

"Salient" issues, in Downing Street jargon, are those that voters (especially in marginal constituencies) say matter most to them. If crime or asylum emerges from polling and focus groups, then politicians respond with speeches and initiatives. Anything that is not a salient issue can languish.

Caspar Henderson

Who's getting rich from COVID-19?

Boris Johnson's government stands accused of 'COVID cronyism', after handing out staggering sums of money to controversial private firms to fight COVID-19. Often the terms of these deals are kept secret, with no value-for-money checks or penalties for repeated failures which cost lives. And many major contracts have gone directly to key Tory donors and allies – without competition.

As COVID rates across the country surge, how can we hold our leaders accountable? Meet the lawyers, journalists and politicians leading the charge in our free live discussion on Thursday 1 October at 5pm UK time.

Hear from:

Dawn Butler Labour MP for Brent Central and member of the House of Commons Committee on Science and Technology

Peter Geoghegan Investigations editor, openDemocracy, and author of 'Democracy for Sale: Dark Money and Dirty Politics'

Jolyon Maugham Barrister and founder of the Good Law Project.

Peter Smith Procurement expert and author of 'Bad Buying: How Organisations Waste Billions through Failures, Frauds and F*ck-ups'

Chair: Mary Fitzgerald Editor-in-chief of openDemocracy

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