Let it go. (Photo: Ted Viens/Flickr)
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Politicians have to stop pretending they have the answers - and start helping people find their own

Devolution of power is Labour's next great mission.

Right across the country Labour councils, local communities and grassroots organisations are showing how they can do better with less while remaining true to their values. In our publication, Let It Go, we interview six public service innovators to learn the lessons their experience offers more widely. 

Oldham Council leader Jim McMahon has set up an ethical care company.  Shunning the race to the bottom seen in the private homecare market, Oldham’s new social enterprise listens to what its clients want then shapes services to deliver it.  Users now receive longer visits at times they choose and satisfaction, he says, is ‘very high’ both among service users and workers.  They key to Jim’s success is to stop pretending the politicians have all the answers and ‘just listen’ to the people on the frontline. 

On the other side of the country Jayne Moules runs Newcastle City Council’s families programme.  The project supports families with high levels of anti-social behaviour or criminality and low levels of achievement to do better.  Instead of dozens of different and uncoordinated interventions by different teams of professionals, Jayne’s team first wins the family’s consent to seek to change then works with them to coordinate support.     

It’s a dramatically more successful approach that, says Jayne, has led to a radically different way of looking at public services.  She explains that it’s “not about delivering a percentage increase in this, that or the other, but it was actually individual families that needed to improve outcomes.” 

What Jim, Jayne and other innovators like them understand is that involving the people you are trying to help allows you to do better even with less money around.  The one resource that’s still in plentiful supply is people’s own insights into the services they use and knowledge of the problems in their own lives.  It’s a resource we don’t tap into enough, and it has the power to transform services from housing to health to home care. 

This is the new politics of empowerment, but for politicians it means learning to listen and let go.  Instead of pretending we have all the answers, our job is to help people and communities find their own answers.  Giving people more power helps repair our broken politics because it by-passes politicians and puts citizens in the driving seat.  Giving people – especially the most vulnerable and socially excluded – more control over their own life helps them become more self-reliant and uncaps their aspirations. 

Labour will share power out, not hoard it at the centre, and do things with people not to them. This new approach is not the old-style state control but moves beyond New Labour’s choice agenda too.

The choice between two bad options is no choice at all.  What people need is the power to insist on services that meet their real needs, to prevent problems instead of trying to fix them afterwards; to do what actually works. 

Britain suffers from an inequality of power.  The rich have always had the power to choose the services they want to use.  Now we have to reshape public services to give that power to everyone else too.  It’s the way to make public services more efficient and effective, make our communities stronger, and fix our broken politics. 

Steve Reed is MP for Croydon North and Liz Kendall is MP for Leicester West. 

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Hillary Clinton can take down the Donald Trump bogeyman - but she's up against the real thing

Donald Trump still has time to transform. 

Eight years later than hoped, Hillary Clinton finally ascended to the stage at the Democratic National Convention and accepted the nomination for President. 

Like her cheerleaders, the Obamas, she was strongest when addressing the invisible bogeyman - her rival for President, Donald Trump. 

Clinton looked the commander in chief when she dissed The Donald's claims to expertise on terrorism. 

Now Donald Trump says, and this is a quote, "I know more about ISIS than the generals do"

No, Donald, you don't.

He thinks that he knows more than our military because he claimed our armed forces are "a disaster."

Well, I've had the privilege to work closely with our troops and our veterans for many years.

Trump boasted that he alone could fix America. "Isn't he forgetting?" she asked:

Troops on the front lines. Police officers and fire fighters who run toward danger. Doctors and nurses who care for us. Teachers who change lives. Entrepreneurs who see possibilities in every problem.

Clinton's message was clear: I'm a team player. She praised supporters of her former rival for the nomination, Bernie Sanders, and concluded her takedown of Trump's ability as a fixer by declaring: "Americans don't say: 'I alone can fix it.' We say: 'We'll fix it together.'"

Being the opposite of Trump suits Clinton. As she acknowledged in her speech, she is not a natural public performer. But her cool, policy-packed speech served as a rebuke to Trump. She is most convincing when serious, and luckily that sets her apart from her rival. 

The Trump in the room with her at the convention was a boorish caricature, a man who describes women as pigs. "There is no other Donald Trump," she said. "This is it."

Clinton and her supporters are right to focus on personality. When it comes to the nuclear button, most fair-minded people on both left and right would prefer to give the decision to a rational, experienced character over one who enjoys a good explosion. 

But the fact is, outside of the convention arena, Trump still controls the narrative on Trump.

Trump has previously stated clearly his aim to "pivot" to the centre. He has declared that he can change "to anything I want to change to".  In his own speech, Trump forewent his usual diatribe for statistics about African-American children in poverty. He talked about embracing "crying mothers", "laid-off factory workers" and making sure "all of our kids are treated equally". His wife Melania opted for a speech so mainstream it was said to be borrowed from Michelle Obama. 

His personal attacks have also narrowed. Where once his Twitter feed was spattered with references to "lying Ted Cruz" and "little Marco Rubio", now the bile is focused on one person: "crooked Hillary Clinton". Just as Clinton defines herself against a caricature of him, so Trump is defining himself against one of her. 

Trump may not be able to maintain a more moderate image - at a press conference after his speech, he lashed out at his former rival, Ted Cruz. But if he can tone down his rhetoric until November, he will no longer be the bogeyman Clinton can shine so brilliantly against.