All In: The must-read manifesto for the future of Britain
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Wrote at university that “The LGB (lesbian, gay, bisexual) society for example doesn’t accept straight members, but we still have to pay for it, something many find unacceptable” (she now insists she “will always support” LGBTQ+ comrades).
Alternative: Towards a New Progressive Politics The Alternative: Towards a New Progressive Politics
These local vignettes capture a wider sense of civic and economic powerlessness in much of the the UK, one that, Nandy argues, a generation of politicians either ignored or failed to understand. Brewing in English towns for 40 years, it drove the “red wall” Brexit vote. Globalisation – and, in particular, the role of the Chinese economy as a source of cheap labour – saw 6m British manufacturing jobs disappear. The power of unions diminished accordingly and was further undermined by successive Thatcher governments. New Labour mitigated the economic impact of deindustrialisation, but its strategy for growth focused overwhelmingly on cities. Towns such as Wigan, ageing and neglected, were ripe for revolt and the 2016 referendum was the opportunity they needed.
Her vision shows how by empowering communities, a better society will build itself. This includes a focus on the climate crisis and how the transition to greener power offers an opportunity to rebuild communities. For example, she mentions how in Grimsby wind power is bringing in high paid, skilled jobs which is sparking a revival for a town which voted heavily to Leave in the EU Referendum. The day before we met in Wigan, the Daily Mail had published a grim photo story, a sort of exercise in town-shaming, suggesting the place was dying on its feet. There were shots of deserted shopping centres, and an interview with a woman who said you could no longer buy a bra on the high street. The people we met were reeling. Howard Gallimore, a former miner who, in the Eighties, used his redundancy pay to set up a fish and chip shop, now owns one of the last restaurants in town. He elbowed Nandy in pantomime horror. “I threw the paper out!” he rasped. “Yes, it is a ghost town for a second. But we have to be positive!” The Bee Network for her has gone a great way to promote connectivity across GM, and seeing the ‘smaller’ boroughs access it first will help stimulate their economies.
From Lisa Nandy to An Yu: recent books reviewed in short
Most interesting was Nandy pointing out how, typically, our western discourse focuses on the 1980s when the US and the UK shifted to the right which signalled the end of the Post-War Consensus and the beginning of the current capitalist system. However, throughout the book, Nandy also includes the opening up of the Chinese economy at this time as a factor which has shaped recent decades. This inclusion helps us understand these changes in a more global context and is welcome. In the 2016 Panorama on Labour Party divisions, Nandy (apparently without a hint of irony) said the infighting “means that we’re distracted from the real task, which is to unite” to oppose the Tories.
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In the presence of Flower, Nandy morphed into someone comically merciless, a precocious teenage daughter ribbing her dad. She pulled him up on a new sign. Nandy begins at Wigan Athletic’s DW football stadium, remembering the first match she attended as the town’s MP. Ten years later, she found herself part of a battle to save the club, after a new owner based in Hong Kong put it into administration at the first opportunity. Recalling the fire sale of assets that took place before weeping, baffled employees, she writes: “Fans and a community that should have been at the heart of the process were shut out, treated as a nuisance by wealthy and powerful people with no connection to the club… the wrong people held all the power.” The shadow minister made it a point to say that both are great leaders, with differing personalities and ways of leading politics.