Bill Clinton, 42nd President of the US was in London town yesterday to speak on Progressive Governance at a Policy Network event. Among points he made were that:
– He always wished he had a Parliamentary system to pass what bills he wanted like Tony given the obstinacy of the legislature he faced
– Low interest rates these days can feel like the healthy people at a sick person’s party if you have a mortgage
– Reagan made everyone automatically think government = bloodsucking machine, thereby popularising low taxes
– Global warming and energy efficiency are challenges of our times despite the scepticism of many in the US – “Go stick a thermometer in it, it’s not opinion”
– Obama’s brilliance at voter ID (called “micro-level targeting”) should be equaled in governments matching people to employment opportunities and “sequencing” policy initiatives
All this was delivered with a mastery of statistical data and sprinkling of accessible anecdotes eg describing how he’s been for his first cateract operation. He said that the category who feel most neglected now are what we’d call “the white working class” and that rather than being about egos “politics is a team sport”. In conclusion he said that 3rd way politics (which Lord Mandelson in an introduction declared had reached a high watermark in the 90s) was needed now more than ever.
The session was preceded by a “young leader’s panel” including Kingston University graduate Hadia Tajik, Norweigan Minister of Culture and Najat Vallaud-Belkacem French women’s rights minister – two Socialist Muslim women in government, the latter a mum-of-two to boot. This is not something yet experienced in the UK (Sayida Warsi doesn’t count). All in all a fascinating night all round – boosted by the fact I was sat next to/ swopped pleasantries with third way creator Lord Anthony Giddens for the duration (if you’ve ever done sociology you’ll know who I mean).