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Reclaiming aspiration - key figures on the left respond to the current debate

Reclaiming aspiration - key figures on the left respond to the current debate


-    Featuring contributions from journalist Owen Jones, NUT General Secretary Christine Blower and academics Imogen Tyler and Bruce Bennett
-    Essays respond to the debate on ‘aspiration’ following May 2015 general election

A new essay series released today [Tuesday 25 August] by the Centre for Labour and Social Studies (Class) weighs in to the debate on aspiration and asks whether it can be reclaimed as a value of the left. 

The series is a vital response to the ongoing debate on aspiration following the 2015 General Election, particularly after Labour MP Jon Cruddas released polls that suggested the Labour Party was “sunk by a tsunami of aspirant voters.” Featuring leading thinkers from across the left, these essays ask what ‘aspiration’ means for both ordinary people and policymakers and how our understanding of this term can translate to radical policy offers to the electorate.

What is aspiration? How progressives should respond

Enabling Aspiration: Owen Jones argues that aspiration should mean making common cause with those with similar problems, hopes and ambitions and that policies such as building homes, public ownership of the rail and developing a public investment bank all speak to our collective aspirations.

          Owen Jones said: “We understand that the ambition and aspiration of the individual is intimately linked to improving society as a whole. Collective solutions allow the individual to prosper and flourish. The right will continue to use aspiration and ambition as cover for shovelling more wealth and power to those who have too much of both at the top.”

Against Aspiration: Imogen Tyler and Bruce Bennett say aspiration is a rhetorical device that seeks to whitewash a neoliberal economic and political project and the staggering inequalities it produces.

Teaching Aspiration: Christine Blower argues that unless we educate each other about building a society in which we all have the chance to flourish, the education system will not be enough to fulfil aspirations.

– ENDS –

Notes to Editors:
1. The Centre for Labour and Social Studies (Class) is a new think tank established in 2012 to act as a centre for left debate and discussion and has the growing support of a number of trade unions including ASLEF, BFAWU, CWU, GFTU, GMB, FEU, Musicians' Union, NUM, NUT, PCS, PFA, TSSA, UCATT, UCU and Unite the Union. Originating in the labour movement, Class is working with a broad coalition of supporters, academics and experts to develop and advance alternative policies for today.

2. Information on the authors:
          Owen Jones is a columnist for the Guardian and author of Chavs and The Establishment.
          Imogen Tyler is Professor of Sociology at University of Lancaster.
          Dr Bruce Bennet is Senior Lecturer at the Lancaster Institute for Contemporary Arts.
          Christine Blower is General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers.

3. The essay series can be downloaded here:

4. Jon Cruddas analysis:

For further information, articles, interviews or media requests please contact Rachel Yates on or 0207 611 2569.