A social and sustainable economy….
Labour needs a big idea on the economy. The Coalition have theirs; it’s called the debt and the deficit. Playing debt management games for Labour doesn’t cut any ice because they are playing their oppositions game. Basically, it is lodged in the public mind that the debt was Labour’s fault. This is, of course, wrong but nonetheless I don’t see it altering any time soon. It certainly wont while Labour lacks a real counter narrative.
Labour lost the crash so it must turn its attention to the post-crash period. It needs to provide a grand vision of where we go from here. Specifically, it needs to focus on social ownership and a new economy. It needs to seize on debt concern to promote the big idea of a social ownership and sustainable economy. We can’t go back to an economy built on the sandcastle of low incomes, cheap and easy credit and mounting debt. Nor can the economy sustain the ridiculous and economically damaging concentration of wealth in the hands of the few when it is produced by the many.
Social ownership is the future for a post-crash economic recovery. State policy should reflect and support that. So while agreeing small business needs serious support (it does, unlike large business stimulate growth and heightened economic activity) it is not a long-term solution because eventually small business becomes big business, a giant bar on our progress; furthermore, entrepreneurship of the capitalist kind also does not do address to spread the wealth throughout society.
Labour should consider adopting the model of the Green Investment Bank and adapting it to promote the growth of social enterprises, mutuals and co-ops. Furthermore, it needs to bring the banks to heel and promote co-ops in this sector too. Not only would this speed our economic recovery and direct it upon the right path but it would start to make dents in social inequality (coupled with policies aimed at inflating incomes and controlling prices). It is therefore fully consequent with core Labour values. This government is ruining the country but it is not enough for us to say so, the opinion polls prove that, we must also offer an alternative vision of how we rebuild it. Only then will we have a real chance of returning to government and building the New Jerusalem so many of us want to see.