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2 November 2007

Advice for Gordon…

What should the Prime Minister do now? Send us your ideas

By Simon Hooper

With Gordon Brown and his advisors apparently still sulking in their bunker in the aftermath of the election that wasn’t and Labour’s subsequent slide from favour in the polls, newstatesman.com thought it was about time somebody gave some thought to what the Prime Minister ought to do next.

So we got together with the Fabian Society to ask progressive thinkers – including Anthony Giddens, Shami Chakrabati and Kate Hudson – what they thought the government should be doing in the likely 18 months or so left before the electorate finally gets to have its say. In the spirit of democratic discussion, we’re also asking newstatesman.com readers to send us their five-point plans for the future direction of the government.

It’s an engaging debate and, for Brownites, a sobering reminder of the challenges – inequality, civil liberties, foreign policy to name just three areas of concern – their champion still faces in persuading a sceptical public that he offers the fresh start and re-energised agenda so badly needed if Labour is to re-connect with its traditional support base.

Look out as well for the latest thoughts from our political philosopher in residence, Martin O’Neill, who this week turns his attention to the inherent hypocrisy of the Sun’s campaign for a European referendum.

“Euroscepticism could be taken much more seriously if it was aired under conditions that ensured the fair value of the political liberties, rather than in currently less-than-democratic political world, where Rupert Murdoch’s political liberties are worth a lot more than yours or mine,” says Martin in a salvo unlikely to win him a well-paid op-ed deal down at Wapping.

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You might have thought there was nothing more that could shock you about Burma’s ruling junta. But as a Human Rights Watch report exposed this week, the regime is increasingly resorting to the forcible conscription of children as young as 10 to bolster its military forces.

Continuing our special coverage of the growing political crisis in the secretive southeast Asian state, HRW’s man on the ground there, David Scott Mathieson, has filed an exclusive despatch for us on the plight of Burma’s child soldiers.

Elsewhere, we have the English Collective of Prostitutes responding to Harriet Harman’s suggestion that escort ads should be banned. The group, which campaigns for the abolition of laws criminalising sex workers, says the measure would only drive the sex trade further underground – and put women’s lives at risk.

Meanwhile Sue Stirling of the Insititute for Public Policy Research North takes the Tories to task for their proposals to limit votes on English matters to English MPs, European political expert Kevin Featherstone recalls the signing of the Maastricht Treaty 14 years ago and Simon Munnery is back with more of his uniquely random musings.

Look out next week for our full coverage of the Queen’s Speech, led by our political editor Martin Bright with cross-party reaction and opinion from Jeremy Corbyn, Theresa May, Mark Oaten and others.

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