Lord Owen discusses Labour’s 2015 leadership elections and media speculation that it could lead to an SDP-style split in an interview on BBC Newsnight. View the interview, from around 16’50″ in the programme, here.
Please note, access is time-limited by the BBC, expires approx 17 August.
The Campaign for the Reinstatement Bill has, in essence, been adopted in this new Parliament by Caroline Lucas in her Private Member’s NHS Bill which has received a First Reading. The importance of this Bill is that prior to the Election it was supported by Labour, Liberal Democrat, SNP, Plaid Cymru and Green MPs and now this newly tabled Bill continues to be supported by that same grouping though slightly different names.
This, in my view, provides the basis for a progressive alliance in UK politics to emerge. It is best for them to focus first on the health service in the UK as a building block for quickly moving on to a constitutional convention which should be established on the understanding that if the Conservatives were ready to involve themselves that would be far better but that in the absence of such cooperation others should get on with it. I recognise for the SNP and Labour in Scotland that will be a difficult dialogue and therefore I believe it would be wiser to establish it on a UK basis. Such an alliance might move then into austerity and economic and social policy. It will have to sort out a proportional system for the Westminster elections and agree it before a general election. This is not an academic issue: it is a question for political horse trading when they have got used to the concept of working together to form a government in 2020. If they have any sense they will also enter into negotiations over standing down from specific constituencies in order to help each other beat the first past the post system.
This may be all too ambitious. But starting on the health service gives substance and structure to a cooperative project so that by the time the Second Reading of Caroline Lucas’s Bill comes before the House of Commons on 11 March 2016 I would hope there is a readiness of the SNP MPs to stay on in London to ensure 100 MPs are present to enforce a closure debate when, as is inevitable, Conservatives try to talk the Bill out. I also hope that then in Committee, in the light of changes in the NHS in England and elsewhere in the UK, the Bill can be amended and that this process will continue throughout the Parliament. It will not of course become law but that same Bill could be reintroduced if someone wished, having been lucky in Private Member’s ballot, in every session until the Election, all the time adjusting and reflecting changes and new thinking.
Letter published in the Guardian, 28 May 2014:
On the issue of fiscal convergence, David Cameron must not repeat the mistake of Margaret Thatcher who ignored Nigel Lawson’s twice-repeated warning…. that “the inclusion of European monetary union as a treaty objective would be a political commitment going well beyond previous references to EMU.” Without a parity of esteem for an EU of multiple currencies there can be no basis for a UK renegotiation.
Read the full letter here
Watch the 15 minute programme here: BBC BOOKtalk (available until 26 February 2015)
The Health of the Nation: NHS in peril is Lord Owen’s latest book. On its release Lord Owen wrote in the Guardian:
“The Health and Social Care Act 2012 – engineered by the former health secretary Andrew Lansley – was a massive blunder, and even senior Conservative ministers now admit the scale of its disastrous repercussions.
“The main thrust of the Lansley project was to take the NHS down the American healthcare route, creating an external market and mandating the compulsory marketisation and commercialisation of services.
“Such a grave mistake as Lansley’s reform must be corrected. A reinstated NHS would be far better placed to provide a comprehensive, cost-effective healthcare service for England, which is similar, although not the same, in all parts of the UK. Repealing the 2012 act is not a realistic political option but its worst aspects can and must be excised, and the best opportunity to secure a commitment to doing that is before the 2015 election.”
Buy a copy of The Health of the Nation: NHS in peril from the Book Depository here: The health of the nation
Or, order direct from the publisher Methuen. Search for ISBN 978-0413777720
All profits from the book between now and the May 31st 2015 will go towards the Campaign for the NHS Reinstatement Bill 2015
Speech by Lord Owen at the `Way With Words’ Festival
Dartington, Sunday 10 July 2011
The present Coalition Government that emerged after a few days negotiation owed almost everything to the openness and generosity of the speech that David Cameron made on the Friday once he realised he had lost the General Election. It was the surprising nature of his words that made it possible for Liberal Democrats to set aside merely supporting a Queen’s Speech of any party that had both a majority of the seats and a majority of the votes and instead actually become part of a Conservative-led coalition government. To read the full speech please click here
Speech by Lord Owen: Learning From Oppostion. How Does Labour Avoid The Mistakes of The Past
Click here to read full version of the speech
“31:51:81” Progress Meeting with Political Historians, Monday, 16 May 2011
CentreForum debate to mark the 30th anniversary of the formation of the SDP, Monday, 22 March 2011
A Message from David Owen
I wish I could have been with you to hear and contribute to the debate but I am in Germany.
I genuinely believe that all of us who were in the SDP can in our individual ways justly claim to be its heirs. No one political party, member of one of the existing parties, or those who never joined another political party after the demise of the SDP can claim exclusivity. And the reason I believe is that we never really succeeded in achieving an uncontested definition of what the modern social democratic party was. This was both a weakness and a strength during the political turbulence of the 1980s.