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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Lord Geoffrey Howe dies, age 88

Howe was Margaret Thatcher's longest serving Cabinet minister – and the man credited with precipitating her downfall.

The former Conservative chancellor Lord Howe, a key figure in the Thatcher government, has died of a suspected heart attack, his family has said. He was 88.

Geoffrey Howe was the longest-serving member of Margaret Thatcher's Cabinet, playing a key role in both her government and her downfall. Born in Port Talbot in 1926, he began his career as a lawyer, and was first elected to parliament in 1964, but lost his seat just 18 months later.

Returning as MP for Reigate in the Conservative election victory of 1970, he served in the government of Edward Heath, first as Solicitor General for England & Wales, then as a Minister of State for Trade. When Margaret Thatcher became opposition leader in 1975, she named Howe as her shadow chancellor.

He retained this brief when the party returned to government in 1979. In the controversial budget of 1981, he outlined a radical monetarist programme, abandoning then-mainstream economic thinking by attempting to rapidly tackle the deficit at a time of recession and unemployment. Following the 1983 election, he was appointed as foreign secretary, in which post he negotiated the return of Hong Kong to China.

In 1989, Thatcher demoted Howe to the position of leader of the house and deputy prime minister. And on 1 November 1990, following disagreements over Britain's relationship with Europe, he resigned from the Cabinet altogether. 

Twelve days later, in a powerful speech explaining his resignation, he attacked the prime minister's attitude to Brussels, and called on his former colleagues to "consider their own response to the tragic conflict of loyalties with which I have myself wrestled for perhaps too long".

Labour Chancellor Denis Healey once described an attack from Howe as "like being savaged by a dead sheep" - but his resignation speech is widely credited for triggering the process that led to Thatcher's downfall. Nine days later, her premiership was over.

Howe retired from the Commons in 1992, and was made a life peer as Baron Howe of Aberavon. He later said that his resignation speech "was not intended as a challenge, it was intended as a way of summarising the importance of Europe". 

Nonetheless, he added: "I am sure that, without [Thatcher's] resignation, we would not have won the 1992 election... If there had been a Labour government from 1992 onwards, New Labour would never have been born."

Jonn Elledge is the editor of the New Statesman's sister site CityMetric. He is on Twitter, far too much, as @JonnElledge.