Bicycles and other items sit on the balconies of council run housing in Lambeth. Photograph: Getty Images.
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Miliband to affirm radical agenda for change at "Condition of Britain" launch

The IPPR report will play a crucial role in shaping Labour's policy platform for the election.

Labour has entered what policy review head Jon Cruddas describes to me as "the most important period in the whole parliament". Over the next few weeks, the party's final major pieces of policy work - IPPR's "Condition of Britain" report, the Local Government Innovation Taskforce and Andrew Adonis's growth review - will be published ahead of the crucial National Policy Forum in Milton Keynes from 18-20 July.

The run of policy will begin on Thursday when Miliband speaks at the publication of "Condition of Britain" at Rich Mix cinema in Bethnal Green. The report, which was launched back in February 2013 by Cruddas, has long been regarded by Labour figures as potentially the most significant study of Britain since the crash, with many comparing it to the 1994 Commission On Social Justice (on which David Miliband served as secretary) which proved so influential on the subsequent New Labour government.

The aim of the review will be to answer the question that has often occupied Labour minds in this parliament: how does the party achieve progressive change when there's less money around? Its three pillars will focus on redistributing power, recognising contribution and rewarding work, and strengthening services and institutions as as a better route to social justice than cash transfers.

The first will mean a radical programme of devolution from Whitehall to end a "century of centralisation" and to achieve change in an era of fiscal constraint. The second will seek to reaffirm the contributory principle by linking social housing allocation to work (paid or voluntary), offering extra childcare for working parents, and introducing a higher rate of Jobseeker's Allowance for older people who have contributed the most over their lifetimes. The third will mean shifting spending from benefits to services, for instance from housing benefit to housebuilding  and from tax credits to the living wage.

While Labour won't accept all of the recommendations of the report (it will, for instance, reject a proposal to fund universal childcare by freezing child benefit), it will represent the best guide yet to what social policy would look like under a Miliband government. Ideas such as transferring responsibility for housing benefit from the DWP to local councils will be embraced.

Expect the Labour leader to emphasise that he is offering "big, bold reforms", rather than "make-do-and-mend spending solutions". It is, to use a word that Miliband won't, "predistribution" in action. Rather than seeking to narrow the gap between rich and poor through expensive remedial measures such as tax credits, the aim is to stop inequality before it starts by tackling its structural roots.

The combination of austerity and the living standards crisis has created a historic opportunity to overhaul the British model of welfare. On Thursday, Miliband will once again underline his determination to seize it.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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"We repealed, then forgot": the long shadow of Section 28 homophobia

Why are deeply conservative views about the "promotion" of homosexuality still being reiterated to Scottish school pupils? 

Grim stories of LGBTI children being bullied in school are all too common. But one which emerged over the weekend garnered particular attention - because of the echoes of the infamous Section 28, nearly two decades after it was scrapped.

A 16-year-old pupil of a West Lothian school, who does not wish to be named, told Pink News that staff asked him to remove his small rainbow pride badge because, though they had "no problem" with his sexuality, it was not appropriate to "promote it" in school. It's a blast from the past - the rules against "promoting" homosexuality were repealed in 2000 in Scotland, but the long legacy of Section 28 seems hard to shake off. 

The local authority responsible said in a statement that non-school related badges are not permitted on uniforms, and says it is "committed to equal rights for LGBT people". 

The small badge depicted a rainbow-striped heart, which the pupil said he had brought back from the Edinburgh Pride march the previous weekend. He reportedly "no longer feels comfortable going to school", and said homophobia from staff members felt "much more scar[y] than when I encountered the same from other pupils". 

At a time when four Scottish party leaders are gay, and the new Westminster parliament included a record number of LGBTQ MPs, the political world is making progress in promoting equality. But education, it seems, has not kept up. According to research from LGBT rights campaigners Stonewall, 40 per cent of LGBT pupils across the UK reported being taught nothing about LGBT issues at school. Among trans students, 44 per cent said school staff didn’t know what "trans" even means.

The need for teacher training and curriculum reform is at the top of campaigners' agendas. "We're disappointed but not surprised by this example," says Jordan Daly, the co-founder of Time for Inclusive Education [TIE]. His grassroots campaign focuses on making politicians and wider society aware of the reality LGBTI school students in Scotland face. "We're in schools on a monthly basis, so we know this is by no means an isolated incident." 

Studies have repeatedly shown a startling level of self-harm and mental illness reported by LGBTI school students. Trans students are particularly at risk. In 2015, Daly and colleagues began a tour of schools. Shocking stories included one in which a teacher singled out a trans pupils for ridicule in front of the class. More commonly, though, staff told them the same story: we just don't know what we're allowed to say about gay relationships. 

This is the point, according to Daly - retraining, or rather the lack of it. For some of those teachers trained during the 1980s and 1990s, when Section 28 prevented local authorities from "promoting homosexuality", confusion still reigns about what they can and cannot teach - or even mention in front of their pupils. 

The infamous clause was specific in its homophobia: the "acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship" could not be mentioned in schools. But it's been 17 years since the clause was repealed in Scotland - indeed, it was one of the very first acts of the new Scottish Parliament (the rest of the UK followed suit three years later). Why are we still hearing this archaic language? 

"We repealed, we clapped and cheered, and then we just forgot," Daly says. After the bitter campaign in Scotland, in which an alliance of churches led by millionaire businessman Brian Souter poured money into "Keeping the Clause", the government was pleased with its victory, which seemed to establish Holyrood as a progressive political space early on in the life of the parliament. But without updating the curriculum or retraining teaching staff, Daly argues, it left a "massive vacuum" of uncertainty. 

The Stonewall research suggests a similar confusion is likely across the UK. Daly doesn't believe the situation in Scotland is notably worse than in England, and disputes the oft-cited allegation that the issue is somehow worse in Scotland's denominational schools. Homophobia may be "wrapped up in the language of religious belief" in certain schools, he says, but it's "just as much of a problem elsewhere. The TIE campaign doesn't have different strategies for different schools." 

After initial disappointments - their thousands-strong petition to change the curriculum was thrown out by parliament in 2016 - the campaign has won the support of leaders such as Nicola Sturgeon and Kezia Dugdale, and recently, the backing of a majority of MSPs. The Scottish government has set up a working group, and promised a national strategy. 

But for Daly, who himself struggled at a young age with his sexuality and society's failure to accept it, the matter remains an urgent one.  At just 21, he can reel off countless painful stories of young LGBTI students - some of which end in tragedy. One of the saddest elements of the story from St Kentigern's is that the pupil claimed his school was the safest place he had to express his identity, because he was not out at home. Perhaps for a gay pupil in ten years time, that will be a guarantee. 

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