There is a generally sad acceptance that we have stopped caring for the most vulnerable in society, the homeless. As numbers of homeless in the UK continue to rise, it is increasingly important to look beyond personal circumstances and turn to wider government policy as a reason for homelessness.
Social democratic policy during the 20th century led to a clear reduction in poverty and income inequality, and a subsequent drop in numbers of homeless. This number rose sharply under Thatcher’s neoliberal welfare retrenchment. There is an undeniable correlation between homelessness and a lack of investment in welfarism.
As homelessness has continued to rise in the UK, it has fallen by 35% in Finland over the same time period. This comes after the Finnish government rolled out their pilot ‘housing first’ scheme, which provides homes for the homeless on an unconditional basis. This differs from the UK system under which homes are only provided on the basis of engaging with social and treatment services.
The evidence from Finland, as well as other similar schemes around the world, is remarkable - a housing first approach not only reduces homelessness but improves engagement in treatment services and produces an addiction recovery rate similar to that of a ‘treatment first’ approach.
Further still, the scheme has resulted in overall government savings as the use of emergency health services, police and criminal justice systems have fallen. 
In August 2018, the UK government revealed plans for an ‘extra £100m’ to be invested into solving the problem of homelessness and rough sleeping. However, it was quickly revealed that half of this has already been committed and the other half was money set to be re-prioritised from other existing budgets.
Renew will tackle homelessness by:
Trialling a ‘housing first’ scheme, like Finland’s, which provides homes for the homeless and looks to create savings in other services.
You might have heard that David Cameron has reportedly been in touch with Theresa May to advise on Parliament’s Brexit deadlock. Number 10 has obviously denied this - like everything else - but the BBC’s sources seemed confident.
This isn’t the first time that yesterday’s man has poked his nose into a mess of his own making.
Never mind the fact that Cameron was the most disastrous Prime Minister this country has seen since Neville Chamberlain. Never mind that his corporate political style - saturated with manager-speak and out-of-touch ideas - alienated millions of voters across the country. Never mind his embarrassing resignation in 2016. Apparently, Cameron’s is still a voice worth listening to when you run the country.
We think Theresa May would do better to listen to the ordinary people around the country who see first-hand the damage that Cameron’s Conservatives did to their communities. People like Renew’s members and potential parliamentary candidates, perhaps.
Cameron’s arrogance reflects the entitlement of a political class that is way past its sell-by date. Remember a few weeks ago when Cameron - “bored s***less” in his luxury Cornwall shed - reportedly told his friends he fancied a go at being Foreign Secretary? It’s pathetic - and insulting to British voters who expect politicians to earn their stripes, not inherit them.
In the words of Renew’s Deputy Leader James Clarke: “the UK political system is not a franchise. We don’t have to vote red, yellow or blue”. Politicians, like the self-important Cameron, cannot take power for granted any more.
And the same goes for older heads like Tony Blair, who also can’t help but stir the pot these days. Blair’s New Labour did some brilliant work around the turn of the century, but the man now represents a way of doing politics that makes most voters cringe. He also seems to have conveniently forgotten the Iraq War - a betrayal that destroyed Blair’s credibility as a voice of reason.
The institutional parties cannot understand that people don’t want a Prime Minister who looks and talks like their boss. Westminster is not a corporate office. Voters want real representatives that actually care about their lives - and have experience outside of the political world.
That’s why David Cameron and his ilk need to pipe down. Their day is done - and it’s about time a new force like Renew earned the chance to govern.
By James Dilley
After studying languages all my academic life, I moved to Germany to live, work and start my post-university career. Leaving the EU will make my future far more difficult.
Thanks to the EU, I was able to live and study in Europe with two partner universities as part of my applied languages degree, without the need for visas or an extremely complicated bureaucratic process. Not only did I have the freedom to study but I also received a monthly grant from Erasmus+, a European Union programme for education, training, youth and sport. From September 2015 I spent six months studying in Malaga, Spain and then five months in Erfurt, Germany, ending in July 2016, just after the Brexit referendum. During this time, I met like-minded students from all over Europe studying various subjects and looking to expand their linguistic and cultural horizons, many of whom dreamed of moving to the UK after their studies were concluded. I had such positive experiences in both Spain and Germany that I knew I wanted to live and work in one of these countries after my degree.
Fast forward to 2018 and I had just moved to Düsseldorf to work with the British Council as a foreign language assistant. My entire academic career was supported by EU migrants working as teachers, teaching assistants and lecturers who helped my foreign language skills immeasurably. I want to give something back and have moved to Germany to help children with their English, just as German-speaking migrants helped me with my German in the UK. My contract here runs until May 2019 and I plan to stay here beyond May and build a life for myself. Leaving the European Union in March will have significant implications for my future here as well as the future of the UK.
From my perspective, I may have to get a second job here before the 29th March, so that I have a stronger footing in Germany and am less likely to be sent home should we leave the EU with no protection for British people already working in Europe. My career plans could be ended by a Brexit that takes away our right to freely work anywhere in Europe. The people I met during my studies in Spain and Germany who dreamed of working in the UK as teachers, doctors, psychiatrists are hesitant to move to a country that, in their eyes, no longer values Europe and European workers.
I simply cannot understand how our politicians can suggest we are better off outside the European Union. The EU not only allows people the right to study, live and work in any of the 27 member countries but also offers financial help to young people looking to expand their cultural and linguistic horizons. Brexit stands to take away the right of all people to forge a new life themselves in Europe as well as preventing future doctors, nurses, teachers and scientists entering the UK and helping our country. Finally, as a linguist, I hate to think of the negative impact that Brexit could have on the study of European languages in the UK.
It’s for this reason that I believe in a People’s Vote. Having now heard the positive case for EU membership, the UK should be given the final say.
By Joe Saunders
“I’m going on a march”, said an English Defence League supporter in 2011, “because I want Britain to be back British”.
In a YouTube clip of this moment, the flag of St George waves in the background. For years now, England’s banner has been associated with the far-right and football hooligans, but there are questions to be asked over whether that shouldn’t change.
Much has been made by journalist Fintan O’Toole and others of the impact of a resurgent English nationalism on the Brexit vote. If it’s true that an English national identity has asserted itself as a driver for Brexit at the expense of the Union, then it would be foolish to continue to box it in as the preserve of racists; there’s clearly a deeper appeal for it among millions of voters. As in Scotland and Wales, many English people seek a national identity in an age of blurred lines. Renew believes that there is no reason why that identity cannot be worn proudly when other British nationalities are given ample space in the wardrobe.
For us, the unacceptable face of English nationalism is that which seeks to divide our nation’s unique Union and rage against foreigners. That isn’t something we can get behind, and we know that the majority of English people are with us.
Yet the cry of England – voting unlike the Scottish and Northern Irish to Leave the European Union – can’t be ignored. The stigmatisation of English culture and history as a parody for racists is unfair. Just as the UK's smaller nations are encouraged to take pride in their heritage, so too should the English be able to celebrate a rich and varied history. There is nothing wrong with being a proud citizen of England – but we can’t let that supersede the integrity of the United Kingdom.
It is clear that there has been a sea-change in English opinions on the Union. Polls have suggested that Leave voters increasingly value Brexit over maintaining the Union with Northern Ireland. This is worrying, as it suggests the nationalist cry across England is drowning out the country’s wider interests, in which all four nations play an integral part. Renew disagrees with this position, and continues to back a United Kingdom within the boundaries of the European Union.
Now is the time to make the case that we are stronger together. But in doing so, we cannot ignore those who wish to maintain an identity within a peculiar union which has provided us with so much over the centuries
By Renew UK
The PM should resign. Windrush, Grenfell, and Brexit are indicative of an old style of politics and arrogance that must end, says John Nucciarone
Democracy and “will of the people” is not only about and expressed through the act of placing a mark on the ballot. It is about information the electorate has access to and how a government decides to interpret the results of a vote. It is about how a government or even a Prime Minister chooses to achieve a policy and what they ignore in attempting to do so.
The 48% have difficulty understanding how they became beggars at a banquet when the 51.8% was obtained in a campaign where the Leave campaign:
i) purposefully confused the issue of political refugees (Syrian refugees) with the EU mobility right,
ii) claimed Turkey was about to join the EU with its approximate population of 80 million obtaining freedom of movement into the UK,
iii) claimed that £350 million a week would be freed up and made available to our under-funded NHS,
iv) promised that EU nationals would not be used as pawns (imagine the spin in the media and the reaction of a few voters if they had known that Theresa May would utter that Leave campaign policy on this issue was not government policy), and
v) stayed silent when 700,000 British citizens currently residing outside the UK were denied the right to have their voices heard at the ballot box. Moreover, when May decided to confirm this referendum result in an election she specifically made about Brexit, her government was reduced to a minority. This was in part caused by Labour’s muddying of the waters on Brexit and our country’s future access to the Single Market - a specific strategy adopted to attract Remain voters.
For a PM who closes her eyes to the facts of how the 51.8% was obtained, to subsequently take the next audacious step of ignoring the promises made to EU resident nationals by the Leave campaign while also simultaneously claiming the government was deriving its mandate from the 2016 referendum itself, is simply mind boggling.
This is not only about how the 51.8% was achieved, it is about the society we live in having to accept not only the consequences of
policies it disagrees with being implemented without a mandate but about the individuals making up that society being told that the methods used to achieve Brexit were legitimate, normal, and acceptable in a democracy.
Does the illegality committed by the Leave Campaign in breaching electoral laws make this PM pause?
Where does she and her government draw the line?
The Windrush Connection
The method used by a government or any other entity to achieve its political aims is relevant in a democracy.
Inconsistency in positions, irrationalism, and ignoring of obvious facts by a PM or government is neither normal, legitimate, or acceptable in a democracy and can lead to even worse abuses.
A mindset which refuses to recognise the weak foundations of the Brexit project and is willing to close its eyes so easily to illegitimate and illegal aspects, is the same mindset which closed eyes to the misguided policies behind the Windrush scandal.
In that instance, to fulfil a political promise to reduce immigration made to usurp UKIP, an administrative process was introduced at the Home Office to create a “hostile environment” where no reasonable politician or even civil servant could not have known that many legal UK citizens would be found guilty of non-existent crimes.
It is a mindset which ignores facts, regardless of the consequences for voters, individuals in society, trust in politicians, or even trust in the political and legal system in our country.
The Grenfell Connection
The very same mindset underlying Brexit and Windrush reared its ugly head again in the government’s handling of the Grenfell Tower Inquiry.
The May government initially proceeded, before a public outcry reversed its course, to appoint one of the Big Four consulting firms (KPMG) as an adviser to the government inquiry into the tragedy.
What should have raised red flags for the May government is the fact that KPMG
i) audits the parent company of the company which produced the defective cladding put on Grenfell Tower,
ii) audits the builder (Rydon) that refurbished Grenfell Tower with the defective cladding and
iii) also audits the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea, which has a management contract with the provider of Rydon’s contract, the Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation.
And what should raise red flags with the public about the Cameron and May governments are their judgments on key matters. The most obvious is that the May government needed a public outcry to remove KPMG from the inquiry process rather than recognising their inappropriacy at the outset.
The connecting factor in Brexit, Windrush, and Grenfell is an arrogance towards both facts and consequences. Our leaders think they can be ignored to achieve political aims, to avoid political embarrassment and accountability, or to simply delegitimise opposition to their arguments.
Mistaking Party for Country
Now, on 12th December 2018, this generation of Tories is delaying the business of the government and the country in order to indulge a leadership challenge. This comes after the PM has already delayed the vote of 11th December on her withdrawal deal.
It would seem this generation of Tories believes that whoever runs the Conservative Party runs the country.
They should not allow May retaining the leadership of their party to provide her a clean slate and safe harbour for a year to berth with the party, the government and its policies.
She may get to press the reset button with her party and this generation of Tories, but she won’t with parliament or the country – whether with regards to her Brexit policies or her government’s integrity.
Make no mistake: if May retains the leadership after this challenge and she loses the coming vote on the withdrawal deal, she along with her government should resign.
It would go against all British parliamentary precedent should she and her government not do so.
The Prime Minister referred to Brexit as a great exercise in democracy. I daresay that under her and this generation of Tories, democracy, rule of law, and respect of parliament and individual freedoms have all been damaged.
John Nucciarone is a Canadian and member of the New York Bar currently living in London. All views are wholly his own.
Renew Deputy Leader James Clarke gives the lowdown from a bizarre day of protest outside parliament.
Today in Parliament Square and College Green, a 'Vote Down the Deal' rally and a 'Brexit Betrayal' counter-protest went ahead in spite of the government's shabby decision to delay the meaningful vote for another day.
On a bright and sunny December morning, the proceedings began well and in good humour, with the two sides (separated by a busy road and two sets of metal and concrete barriers) exchanging Brexit banter.
"You lost, get over it!"
"You WON! Get over it, and cheer up!"
The Remain side had the numerical advantage and also the decibel advantage, with the redoubtable 'SODEM' Steve Bray controlling the mic, leading the chants and bringing in guests, including a cellist and his excellent baritone rendition of 'God Save the Queen'.
"Get a bloody job, Steve!", shouted one passer-by.
"I've got one, and this is it!", Steve replied, gamely.
A slightly surreal and peculiarly British jollity seemed to pervade the atmosphere, with the Brexiteers enjoining motorists to 'Honk if you voted Leave' and the Remainers chanting 'Empty bus, empty promises!' as the oddly passenger-less 'Betrayal' bus conducted its umpteenth circuit of the square.
Tellingly, the Leavers were divided into two groups, an extremely vocal and slightly aggressive group that resembled a Yaxley-Lennon rally and a quieter group, led mostly by women, who kept their distance from both sides.
Tourists looked on bemused at a grotesque model of May, Johnson, Gove and Davis, entitled 'Brexit is a Monstrosity' and Londoners punctuated the day with their passing perspectives.
"Bollocks to populism!", bellowed one cyclist, to no-one in particular.
One unexpected occurrence was the presence of two religious fellows, who were attempting to hijack the politics to spread their message. One, with a battery-powered mic and speaker, exhorted the Remain side to "REPENT OR BURN IN HELL"; the other silently held a placard, warning the Leavers that, 'BEFORE WORLD WAR 3 TRUMPET WILL BE BLOWN EVERYBODY WILL FALL UNCONSCIOUS AND DIE EXCEPT THOSE GOD WANT TO KEEP.'
International journalists wandered through the crowds with curious expressions on their faces, trying somehow to make sense of this strange new country and its unique political street theatre. Westminster now feels like a reality show gone wrong.
These scenes and ones like them are being replicated every weekend throughout the UK and it appears that the one thing May's government has unquestionably achieved is to unite Remainers and Leavers in indignation.
Even as the polls tick towards a People's Vote, it is still a brave gambler who would predict the actions of this volatile government or its supine opposition.
Whatever the outcome, it is clear that the public are not prepared to reward the parties that have turned UK politics into farce.
It's time for something new.
It's time to Renew.
By James Clarke
Deputy Leader, Renew UK
Renew candidate and Cambridge resident Boris Boyadzhiev comments on the need to protect the natural world, both in the way we move around and how we relate to others
Being a keen cyclist and part of the thriving Cambridge community is something I am proud of. My city has been crowned ‘the cycling capital of UK’ for a reason. There is no other place in the country where you can so effortlessly commute or leisurely cruise around on a bike by the river. I am very passionate about promoting the use of bicycles as an environmentally friendly mode of transport - one that is very good for you, too.
Unfortunately, not much has been done recently to promote cycling. There are great proposed schemes like the Chisholm Trail, designed to help you move from A to B without causing unnecessary congestion and pollution, but it will take a few decades to come to fruition. And when the green light was given for a new vital bridge to be built over the river Cam, monster contractor Carillion collapsed, confirming the impotence of the powers that be.
These failures are related to the current state of our democracy. It is ill and dysfunctional. There are experts out there driving around in cars, failing to make decisions on what we need and when we need to do it.
The moment has come to rethink, reboot and renew approaches to issues such as these. Our leaders should let local people decide for themselves. We should stand up and persistently demand a better, brighter future, rather than settling for a vote once every few years. And there is no need for violence and vitriol, since ‘wisdom is better than weapons of war’.
To present people with a sustainable vision for our lives, politicians must engage local communities face-to-face. By learning more about each other, we can achieve balance and harmony. Nature is smart and we should learn its lessons. Planet Earth is our one and only home. Keeping it clean and tidy is the key to happiness.
Don’t think it can wait until tomorrow. Start being active now and join us at Renew to rethink our relationship with the natural world.
By Boris Boyadzhiev
As someone who has lived in London for most of my adult life and an avid cyclist, I am concerned about pollution. With three small children who I cart around in a cargo bike, I worry a lot about its impact on their lungs and mine. We breathe it and we feel the dirt.
9600 early deaths a year are attributed to pollution in London alone. There are 40,000 across the country. It’s a silent killer, but deadly. For the first time this year it was revealed that the tragic death of Ella Kissi-Debrah, a nine year old girl who died in February 2013, would not have happened without unlawful levels of air pollution. That’s a precious life lost to a preventable epidemic.
The current government has not enacted any meaningful measures to address the pollution crisis; indeed, they have only sowed confusion, kicking the problem to local government agencies stripped of meaningful finances and power.
So how do we create incentives for change that are so desperately needed for long term health?
Well, Renew supports a radical clean air act to follow on from the 1956 Act, which was an important milestone in the development of legal framework to protect the environment.
We must invest in clean public transport; not politically motivated schemes like HS2, but ones that will help people across the country to get to work on affordable green rides. Public transport must run with ultra-low emissions within five years to have a meaningful impact on our emission commitments.
Renew will encourage the move to electric cars, rolling out electric points across the country and phasing out polluting vehicles. And we must incentivise delivery companies to reduce road tax liability by ensuring their fleets meet best-in-class emissions standards.
At the local level, we will advocate for air filters in schools that are near busy roads - a short-term solution until we achieve the clean environment of the future.
Radical is the new sensible when it comes to looking after our lungs and our planet. J
Just as we must invest in public health to prevent illness, so to must we stop pollution at its source. Because this is about every breath we take.
By Annabel Mullin
Party Leader, Renew UK
Last weekend I travelled to France, visiting Paris and Marseille. Having lived and worked in France, I have a close affinity to the French people and their firm belief in ‘Liberté, égalité, fraternité’. Even arriving at the Gare de Marseille Saint Charles, there is a large sign depicting the 70th anniversary of the Declaration of Human Rights.
Having followed reports of the rise of the Gilets Jaunes, I wanted to see first hand how this movement was gathering such momentum.
The Gilets Jaunes were born out of a protest against the Macron government’s plan to increase tax on fuel to aid the country’s transition to green energy. The protest was organised by ordinary working people through social media - there is no leader, political party or trade union attached to the Gilets Jaunes.
Since the 17th November, there have been roadblocks, barriers at roundabouts and blockades of fuel depots. These were peaceful protests by working class people; the price of fuel had become one of the major talking points in France.
Sadly, these initially peaceful protests became marred by some unfortunate accidents and incidents, fatally discrediting the movement.
I wanted to find out more about this, so on Sunday morning, I went for coffee in a local bar in a residential area of Marseille. The media was full of reports of the previous night’s violence. The customers taking their early morning coffee were not talking, but watching the news. I spoke to one of them, and he explained how they were angry that the Gilet Jaunes had been infiltrated by far right and far left organizations, and that public opinion was turning against them. The situation had been made worse by the death of an 80-year-old woman caught up in the demonstrations in Marseille the night before.
Why am I talking about this? Well, as Head of Operations at Renew, I firmly believe that the government's Brexit deal is bad for this country. But I am concerned by suggestions from some corners that the Remain movement should become more militant.
The marches and campaign for a People’s Vote have been honourable in their pacifism. They should stay that way.
On returning to London on the Eurostar Monday morning, I read of an impending meeting between the organisers of the Gilets Jaunes and the Macron government. They had been forced, due to the violence of the ultra-left and hard right, to meet and stop the action. In the end, Macron got away lightly, offering only a 6-month freeze, which the moderate leaders of the Gilets Jaunes had little choice but to accept.
The Remain campaign must stick to its principles and not resort to violence. We are getting the upper hand and we cannot allow extremists to infiltrate us. It is not the British way to force change through violence.
Join me outside Parliament on 11th December to protest against the Government's Brexit deal. Sign up here and give a small part of your time to voice your opinion against the Deal.
by David Britten
Head of Operations, Renew UK
It is not only British politics that has heated up in the past two years. 2018’s scorching summer was a due reminder of what is to come if we do not rapidly transition to clean energy and requisition carbon from the atmosphere.
It was in this context that Sir David Attenborough spoke at UN-sponsored climate talks in Poland this week. By taking the ‘People’s Seat’ at the conference, a national icon hopes to convey the urgency that people in Britain and around the world are starting to feel on the need to tackle climate change.
That urgency could not have been clearer on Saturday 24th November, when I travelled down to Westminster for Renew’s inaugural National Assembly.
This event symbolised a sea-change in British politics, as ordinary people from across the spectrum came together to celebrate the growth of a new force ready to discard ideology in favour of science and progress.
Meanwhile, just outside our venue of Westminster Central Hall in Parliament Square, protest group Extinction Rebellion were taking to the streets to combat climate change.
This was a different kind of congregation. Activists were holding up traffic, marching across bridges and generally being as loud as possible so that people might take notice of their cause.
Meanwhile, in Australia, school children feel the need to walk out from school on strike because they feel that their future is being out at risk. Closer to home, ordinary people must campaign against multi-national companies seeking to frack our precious countryside for gas at a time when clean energy is growing ever cheaper and has the potential to create more jobs.
I am Renew’s environmental advisor and run the environmental think-tank Carbon Tracker Initiative. I know as well as anybody the immense challenge of climate change, so I fully understand the frustrations that have led to the Extinction Rebellion’s tactics. The situation is really dire; we have left it so late that we have a limited window to act and we face huge disruption because of it. Around the World we are already seeing extreme weather events, such as wildfires in California, hurricanes and, closer to home, extreme heatwaves, flooding and storms.
So I get the reason for Extinction Rebellion. We really need to wake up and smell the coal.
The irony is that we have the clean technologies to tackle this and create high quality jobs, clean growth & prosperity for our country.
Luckily, Renew is an example of the kind of radical thinking we need. It’s a chance to listen to the people and reboot politics in the age of global warming, setting our country on the road to clean growth and prosperity.
A party unbound by ideology or donor promises will not subsidise filthy fossil fuels. It’s much more likely to rapidly expand investment in offshore and onshore wind power - an economically sound decision as well as a clean one. And it’s much more likely to embrace modern technology like electric and hydrogen-powered vehicles since it sees opportunity in invention. This technology can provide alternative clean, cheap and effective transport for the people of this country.
By backing a party like Renew, we embrace the immense environmental challenges that face our nation and our species. If we continue to run from them, I’m afraid that a few blocked roads will be the least of our worries.
By Anthony Hobley, Renew Energy & Environment Advisor