Friday, 19 February 2010

A future fair for all

That is Labour's election 'strapline' for 2010, with The Guardian reporting on the campaign planning and interviewing Douglas Alexander.

It is good to have fairness central.

In terms of political values, this comfortably outperforms the "Forward Not Back" slogan of 2005.

Grammar has not been the strong point of recent political sloganeering. "For all" may be superfluous as "fairness" might imply universality. (Could 'a future fair for some' be offered? Perhaps by those who favour the few, not the many, with their tax plans).

The main objection may be whether anybody can say they are against fairness, which means promoting a clear choice about what choosing a fairer Britain should entail.

That's why we have been promoting, over the last two years, the idea of "fairness doesn't happen by chance" as the central narrative for a political campaign which could put the idea of a fairer and more equal Britain at its heart (including making that the theme of our 2009 new year conference a year ago).

Slogans - even "now win the peace" - don't win or lose elections. But "A future fair for all" seems a good signal of Labour's intention to put its best foot forward in its campaign argument.


james said...

RE: "fair for all" I think the logic is that we can sometimes think things are fair for us - for example, unfair trade can mean I get a bargain and a lot of people know this and so there's pressure on retailers to get fair trade products, etc. Or someone like Lord Griffiths can think 'fair enough' with regards bank bonuses and then go on to argue inequality is good for the economy.

I think the intention is to get people to think more about society as a whole. I heard Harriet Harman speak in Middlesbrough the other day and she said, echoing the work of the National Equality Panel & the Marriott Review, that unfairness is bad for all of us.

Vincenzo Rampulla said...

Having just seen the GB speech and the coverage of the supporters rally today it's an interesting wire that the leadership is trying to balance on.

The use of 'New Labour' is as interesting as the slogan itself.

Sunder Katwala said...


Thanks for the comment. Yes, that makes sense as to why it is there.

A politics of fairness and equality is about both
(i) making an argument across the whole of society that a fairer and more equal society is in our collective enlightened self-interest, using the arguments of Richard Wilkinson, etc on issues like crime, general well-being, and that there are benefits of fairness for those at the top too. Our inequality attitudes work suggests this broad 'quality of life' case for fairness and greater equality has quite a lot of resonance across social groups, and often more than a "who's got what" argument about fairness.

(ii) at the same time, ensuring it links the solidarity and interests of the bottom and the middle, so that it is possible to build winning coalitions to support universal services, redistribution through progressive universliam and tackle eg rewards for failure at the top, to the extent that entrenched privilege and advantage is not convinced by what might appear an altruistic appeal.

james said...

I totally agree, especially your second point.

Cameron's decision to advocate ending universality on tax credits, SureStart, etc. is a big mistake - a monumental own goal. Folks on middle incomes, people who self-identify as middle class, do appreciate the benefits they recieve from the welfare state. The Tories haven't decontaminated their anti-public service brand, and the decision to target middle class people for spending cuts is breathtaking...

jmedwards said...

Sounds more like an admission of thirteen years of fairness failure.