The Report of the Commission on Social Justice, Social Justice: Strategies for National Renewal, is not the first attempt since Beveridge to consider our social security system as a whole - nor is it necessarily the best - but it has been the most widely publicised and reviewed. That is because, unlike the others, it comes from the heart of the political Úlite itself. The Commission was instigated by the late John Smith and conducted its work under the auspices and with the assistance of the Institute of Public Policy Research. The Institute also published the important working papers which preceded the Report. The Commission was carefully not tied to the Labour Party, and its chairman, Sir Gordon Borrie, the former Director-General of Fair Trading, is very much one of the 'great and the good' - those who (before 1979) could expect to preside over such enquiries regardless of which party was in office. Its membership is drawn broadly from the progressive class and the Report, though acknowledging the Commission's general ideological alignment with 'the Opposition', conspicuously denies any particular attachment to the Labour Party. In fact, the Commissioners look remarkably like the Gaitskellite Labour Party - and that includes those of its members who might have left the Labour Party in the Eighties.
LRB 26 January 1995 | PDF Download