Front-runner in the Labour leadership contest, shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna, has set out his stall calling for ‘massive devolution’ and public sector reform exemplified by forward thinking bodies such as Transport for London (TfL).
Mr Umunna has announced he will run for the leadership and, writing in the Labour-friendly Guardian, positioned himself to run for leadership by analysing where his predecessor Ed Miliband went wrong both tactically and politically and setting out a centrist agenda to combat both.
The MP for Streatham held up TfL as an example of the type of forward thinking body that can provide a model for modern public sector reform.
‘We should have been the ones championing a smart, efficient public sector that uses technology, co-operative and mutual principles and a pragmatic “what works” approach to get things done. By way of an example, consider Transport for London’s decision to make its data freely available to developers. The move has spawned the creation of some 200 travel apps by tech companies, improving users’ experiences and adding tens of millions of pounds to the economy,’ he stated.
TfL is an affective reference for Mr Umunna's agenda, as it is not just an undoubted world leader in its field but also it possesses devolved powers and controls envied by local bodies across the country.
Mr Umunna also put localism front and centre, stating: ‘Decentralising the state is a big part of [the] challenge. In government, we were the architects of devolution, but in opposition ceded that ground to George Osborne and his Northern Powerhouse agenda.
‘We must now go much further: pushing for a massive devolution of power to our cities, regions and towns and, by extension, reducing what is done in Whitehall by consolidating and merging departments and cutting the number of ministers by at least a third.’
Mr Umunna criticised the party for vacating the centre ground and moving away from aspirational Blairism, he also slammed the campaign strategy. ‘We tried to cobble together a 35% coalition of our core vote, disaffected Lib Dems, Greens and Ukip supporters. The terrible results were the failure of that approach writ large,’ he stated.
He went on to say: ‘I’ve always argued you cannot be pro-business by beating up on the terms and conditions of their workers and the trade unions that play an important role representing them. But you cannot be pro good jobs without being pro the businesses that create them.’