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A period of reflection

In the aftermath of the General Election, we're compiling a reading list from our archive on the topics of most significance in the debate about the future of Labour politics.

Jump to: Englishness, place and classTowns, cities, villages - Localism - Labour's new political economy: the national agenda and the international agenda - Climate politics - Conservative hegemony 

In the aftermath of Labour’s crushing defeat on 12 December, its worst election result since 1935, outgoing leader Jeremy Corbyn called for a ‘period of reflection’. Since Corbyn became Labour leader in September 2015, the party has witnessed a renaissance of ideas and policies which have reshaped the terms of the national debate and shifted the centre ground of Labour politics. At the same time, Labour faces a serious crisis; it has lost touch with some of its traditional bases of support and thus seems unable to communicate through the Brexit culture war. This is not a new problem—it could already be detected in the heyday of Labour’s electoral success as New Labour and continued more or less unabated under Ed Milliband. The latest election defeat offers the Tories an opportunity to lock in the decline of the Labour party through constitutional change.

These are questions which Renewal has been grappling with for some years. How can Labour speak to England? How should Labour navigate new formations of class and culture? To see the present moment simply as the electoral repudiation of 'Corbynomics' is not enough. In fact, many of the contributions that this journal has made to the development of 'Corbynomics' in recent years contain the seeds of a solution to Labour’s disconnect with its traditional heartlands; work we have published on community wealth building and the institutional turn speaks directly to parts of the country ‘left behind’ by globalization, abandoned by successive governments and shattered by a decade of austerity.

For many of us, the most painful consequence of Labour’s defeat was that it represented the victory of a party with few ideas for, and little genuine interest in, tackling the climate emergency. A transformative programme of rapid decarbonization and radical economic reform is urgently necessary—we don’t have five years to wait. Labour needs to think about how it can push for an appropriate response to the crisis despite being out of power.

Renewal doesn’t offer definitive answers; it offers a space for the sort of reflection that Corbyn has called for. This reading list is intended as a resource for thinking through the crisis Labour faces.

Englishness, place and class

Michael Kenny, 'Rise now and be a nation again? The politics of Englishness', Renewal 22:1-2 (2014)

Emily Robinson, ‘Labour and the New Englishness’, Renewal 24:1 (2016)

Tom Barker, ‘Speaking to England’, Renewal 24:3 (2016)

John Denham and Michael Kenny, ‘Labour and the national question after Brexit’, Renewal 24:4 (2016)

Ewan Gibbs, 'Who’s ‘Normal’? Class, Culture and Labour Politics in a Fragmented Britain', Renewal 25:1 (2017)

Will Jennings and Gerry Stoker, ‘The new economy, social change, and polarised places: a changed terrain for British politics’, Renewal 25:3-4 (2017)

Lorenza Antonucci, 'The revolt of the ‘squeezed middle’', Renewal 25:3-4 (2017)

Janosch Prinz, ‘Brexit and the loss of meaning — impressions from Great Yarmouth’, Renewal 26:2 (2018)

Craig Berry, ‘Labour’s lost tribe: winning back the working class’, Renewal 26:4 (2018)

Paula Sturridge, ‘The fragmentation of the electoral left since 2010’, Renewal 26:4 (2018)

John Denham, ‘Labour and England, 1997-2010’, Renewal 27:3 (2019)

Towns, cities, villages

Lisa Nandy, ‘Ideas worth fighting for’, Renewal 26:4 (2018)

Andrew Carter, 'The left’s next political economy, devolution, and industrial policy', Renewal blog, 20.9.2018

Lise Butler, 'The 2019 Election and the left in London', Renewal blog, 18.12.2019

Penny C.S. Andrews, 'We need to talk about villages', Renewal blog, 20.12.2019


Majorie Kelly, Sarah McKinley, and Violeta Duncan, ‘Community wealth building: America’s emerging asset-based approach to city economic development’, Renewal 24:2 (2016)

Matthew Brown interviewed by Martin O’Neill, ‘The Road to Socialism is the A59: The Preston Model’, Renewal 24:2 (2016)

Jessica Studdert, ‘Place-based health: why local accountability would lead to better quality and outcomes’, Renewal 24:2 (2016), and Steve Illiffe in response to Jessica Studdert 

Fernanda Balata, ‘Shaping a new deal for coastal communities’, Renewal 24:2 (2016)

Rachel Reeves, 'Peter Lee and localism today', Renewal 26:1 (2018)

Ted Howard and Martin O’Neill, ‘Beyond extraction: The political power of community wealth building’, Renewal 26:2 (2018)

Lisa Nandy, ‘Ideas worth fighting for’, Renewal 26:4 (2018)

James Hickson, 'The local future of socialism: five key ideas', Renewal blog, 15.1.2019

Fabrizio Barca, ‘Place-based policy and politics’, Renewal 27:1 (2019)

Oriol Estela, ‘The Foundational Economy and strategic planning in Barcelona: reshaping the urban economy from the bottom up’, Renewal 27:2 (2019)

Debbie Green, 'Coastal Housing Group: developing the Foundational Economy in South Wales', Renewal 27:2 (2019)

Georgia Gould interviewed by Florence Sutcliffe-Braithwaite, 'Deliberative democracy and the devolution of power in Camden', Renewal 27:4 (2019)

Christine Berry, 'Lessons from 2019: democratic disillusionment and community organising', Renewal blog, 23.12.19

Labour's new political economy: the national agenda

Joe Guinan, 'Bring back the Institute for Workers’ Control', Renewal 23:4 (2015)

Thomas Ferretti, 'Mondragon in five points: advantages and challenges of worker co-operatives', Renewal 23:4 (2015) 

Christine Berry, 'Reforming the Banks: The Opportunity of Brexit', Renewal 24:4 (2016)

David Jacobs, 'Platform Cooperativism', Renewal 25:3-4 (2017)

Frederick Harry Pitts, Lorena Lombardozzi, Neil Warner, 'Speenhamland, Automation and the Basic Income: A warning from history?', Renewal 25:3-4 (2017), and the response from Malcolm Torry in Renewal 26:1 (2018)

Dan Chandler, '‘The Everyday Economy’ and the Next Economic Settlement', Renewal 26:2 (2018)

Martin O’Neill, Joe Guinan, 'The Institutional Turn: Labour’s new political economy', Renewal 26:2 (2018)

Thomas Hanna, 'The Return of Public Ownership', Renewal 26:2 (2018), and responses from Cat Hobbs and Satoko Kishimoto in the same issue

Daniel Chavez, 'Energy democracy and public ownership: what can Britain learn from Latin America?', Renewal 26:4 (2018)

Keir Milburn, Bertie Russell, 'What can an institution do? Towards Public-Common partnerships and a new common-sense', Renewal 26:4 (2018) 

Duncan McCann, Stewart Lansley, 'Citizen’s wealth funds, a citizen’s dividend and basic income', Renewal 27:1 (2019) 

Juvaria Jafri, 'The poor always pay more: financial access to address marginalisation', Renewal 27:1 (2019) 

Luca Calafati, Sukhdev Johal, Julie Froud, Karel Williams, 'Building foundational Britain: from paradigm shift to new political practice?', Renewal 27:2 (2019)

Julia Heslop, John Tomaney, Kevin Morgan, 'Debating the Foundational Economy', Renewal 27:2 (2019) 

Elizabeth Anderson interviewed by Dan Chandler, 'Power in the Firm', Renewal 27:3 (2019) 

Liam Kennedy, 'The institution’s not for turning? Inequality, taxes and anticapitalism', Renewal 27:3 (2019)

Colm Murphy, 'The unspoken dilemmas of Corbynomics', Renewal 27:3 (2019)

Mathew Lawrence, 'Inclusive Ownership Funds: a transatlantic agenda for transformative change', Renewal 27:4 (2019), and the roundtable in this issue with Lenore Palladino, Michael A. McCarthy and Janet Williamson

Nick Garland and Colm Murphy, 'The nature of ‘Corbynomics’ – and four key questions it faces', Renewal blog, 3.12.2019

Labour's new political economy: the international agenda

Silke Trommer, 'Fragmentation and decline? The UK and the global trading system after Brexit', Renewal 25:3-4 (2017)

Grace Blakeley, Sahil Jai Dutta, Anahí Wiedenbrug, 'The global financial crisis and its history: responses to Adam Tooze’s Crashed', Renewal 27:1 (2019) 

Brian Shaev, 'Socialism, (neo)liberalism, and the Treaties of Rome', Renewal 27:1 (2019) 

Matthew Bishop, Tony Payne, 'The left and the case for ‘progressive reglobalisation’ ', Renewal 27:3 (2019) 

David Adler, 'The international institutional turn: the missing ingredient in Labour’s new political economy', Renewal 27:4 (2019)

Climate politics

Lisa Nandy, ‘What is the significance of the Paris Agreement?’, Renewal 24:1 (2016)

Polly Billington, ‘Climate change is a class issue’, Renewal 25:2 (2017)

Dan Bailey and Martin Craig, ‘Greening the UK’s economic model’, Renewal 26:2 (2018)

Jon Bourke and Mika Minio-Paluello, ‘Street-level climate politics’, Renewal 26:3 (2018)

Franziska Paul, '‘No jobs on a dead planet’: Energy democracy, public ownership, and union opposition to mega-energy projects’, Renewal 26:3 (2018)

Mark Burton, 'Degrowth: the realistic alternative for Labour', Renewal 27:2 (2019)

Andrew Sayer, ‘Moral economy, the Foundational Economy and de-carbonisation’, Renewal 27:2 (2019)

Conservative hegemony

Ken Spours and Patrick Diamond, ‘The Osborne Supremacy: the unfolding Conservative hegemonic project and the left’s response’, Renewal 24:1 (2016)

Alan Finlayson and Lea Ypi, 'Realignment on the right?', Renewal 27:3 (2019)

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