A plan for the world

As the bombs fall and the missiles fly, we present: "A plan for the world". With <strong>Peter Jay</

In January 1941, at the height of the Blitz, the weekly magazine Picture Post published a special issue entitled "A Plan for Britain". With contributions from J B Priestley, Julian Huxley, Thomas Balogh and A D Lindsey (who became the founder of Keele University), the magazine set out a vision of how health, employment, education, social security and so on should be organised after the war. At the time, Britain stood almost alone against the Nazis; the Picture Post plan may have seemed remote and impractical. But as the magazine put it, "this is the time for thinking", and its plan began the public debate that led to the Beveridge Report and to the great social reforms of the 1945-51 Labour government. This too, the New Statesman believes, is a time for thinking; for considering, as the bombs fall, missiles fly and people live once more in fear, how we might achieve the better future that Tony Blair envisaged in his Brighton speech. Today, our problems are global, and not purely national. So we have asked our contributors to attempt - to echo Picture Post again - "an impossible task": to give us a plan for the world. Picture Post began with the personal view of a Welsh coal miner. We begin with the view of a Costa Rican coffee grower.

This article first appeared in the 22 October 2001 issue of the New Statesman, A plan for the world