In connection with the Compass project "How To Live In The 21st Century", two submissions have been made from the Dronfield Labour Party Discussion Group. These can be found on the appropriate Compass web-site if you click onto the following topics -"Political Education, Political Education, Political Education" and "Integrated Transport"
Background explanations of these two sets of proposals are provided below -
On "Political Education, Political Education, Political Education"
A vibrant and intelligent political culture requires issues to be debated openly (but not violently) within the context of widespread commitments to civil liberties, including those of free expression. In the modern Labour Party and often in the wider Labour Movement, a past tradition of considering practical political alternatives in the light of the concepts of social equality, collectivism and democratic participation has tended to be sidelined. This is not an argument for the adoption of a political dogma by today's movement; for core values themselves need to be under continual testing and re-examination and to be attuned to changing circumstances. But unfortunately in today's movement too often core values tend to have withered away, rather than being re-assessed and updated.
The Labour Party in particular needs to encourage and facilitate internal debate and discussion about our times. A key avenue to achieve such an approach is the establishment of a political education programme to stimulate debate and discussion amongst what could then become a growing and active membership.
Such an approach is likely to require a serious publications' avenue which the Labour Party membership could contribute to. This would require moves towards a weekly Labour Party newspaper, the establishment of a theoretical journal, the publication of discussion pamphlets, the running of discussion groups and study courses; plus the use of web-sites and other avenues of more modern technology. The Labour Party itself should aim at running such provisions, building upon the efforts (amongst others) of Tribune, Chartist, the Fabian Society and Compass.
Such forms of Political Education will, however, only achieve a living impact when the internal structure of the Labour Party is openly democratised - yet political education could also encourage such a development.
The TUC, individual Trade Unions and the Co-operative Movement form essential parts of our Movement. They have their own traditions of providing their own internal educational programmes. The focus of such activities are often centred around the practical needs of health and safety representatives, shop stewards and equivalents. These programmes need to be leavened with fuller investigations around the historical, political and core values of the Labour Movement.
Ways and means of re-establishing a pre-Thatcherite tradition of working class education centred on the earlier practices of Colleges such as Ruskin, Coleg Harlech, the Northern College and Newbattle Abbey need to be explored.
On "Integrated Transport"
A programme to move towards the effective use of an integrated public transport system; involving the establishment of a variety of forms of social ownership for the operations of buses, trams, taxis, aeroplanes, ships and lorries. In order to reduce congestion on our roads, priority will be given to public forms of transport over the use of private cars. A full use of an expanded rail network would be employed for the movement of goods as well as passengers. To maximize the use of public transport facilities, cheap and free fares would be extended, based on need. Current free and concessionary travel facilities for pensioners and others would provide a model for such schemes. Publicly run (or supported) taxi services, buses, trams, planes and ships would be linked whenever possible at bus and tram terminals, airports and ports. Entitlement to air travel would balance the needs of travellers with carbon footprint considerations.
When considering integrated transport policies, account should be taken of how transport effects climate change, and any decisions regarding integrated transport should include plans to reduce carbon emissions from future forms of transport. Consideration must therefore be given to future plans to convert the existing rail network to a completely electrical system of rail transport. An expanded rail network should also be fully electrified. An integrated transport policy should also include plans to develop road transport vehicles with greatly reduced carbon emissions. Types of electrically driven vehicles, which satisfy future transport requirements, will therefore have to be developed if this objective is to be realised. Electrifying the rail network and the provision of road vehicles, which depend on electrical power, will transfer demand from fossil fuels to electrical power and will place greater demands on the electricity supply industry. An integrated transport policy should therefore include plans to increase the amount of electricity produced by renewable sources and plans to replace the current generation of aging power stations with power stations with low carbon emissions.
The role of railways in an integrated transport system would require a curb being placed on the need for the use of heavy road transport with limits being placed on the use of lorries and huge pantechnicons. Their operations would need to be restricted, especially where alternative rail services are available. This could be achieved through the licencing of the giants of the road.
Whilst cheap public transport would attract many away from private car usage, it is likely that a programme of restraints on private car usage will need to be introduced to relieve major avenues of congestion. This will need to be done via a programme of restrictions rather than via a market policy involving the use of congestion charges.