The Economic Case
for Strong Trade Unions

Embed from Getty Images Hammering the foundations of prosperity… The New Economics Foundation (nef) and The University of Greenwich have recently published a new economic case for trade unions. Entitled Working for The Economy, it is a detailed and numerate assessment in the decline of trade unions over the twentieth century and the policy impacts that conflict has caused. The report also makes a strong case for their resurgence, arguing that as a ‘wage driven’ economy, the UK benefits from the rise in wages and conditions attributed to strong work place representation. The report is keen to stress that, although wages and salaries are a cost to business, it is too simplistic to discount the purchasing power extended to workers through their ability to consume. ‘If wages fall as a share of income, it implies a shrinking market. The result is a drag on profiits and growth‘. This is an important principal consideration. The idealogical defeat of collective bargaining and the suppression of wage costs by owners of capital, in itself, diminishes the very market they are attempting to exploit. The detail below illustrates the fall of ‘wage share’ across Europe in the last fifty years…     For every 1% reduction in the share of national income going to wages, UK national income – measured by GDP – is reduced by 0.13%, or £2.21bn at current values. Wage share has declined from its 1975 peak of 76% to an historic low of 67% today; this has had a direct…

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Narrative of war – diminishing debate

Embed from Getty Images The desolation of war… Rowan Williams, lately Archbishop of Canterbury, recently saw an edited version of his 2015 Orwell Lecture published in The Guardian newspaper. (What Orwell can teach us about the language of terror and war). The Orwell Prize is dedicated to ‘…making political writing an art’. This was beautifully elucidated in the Williams speech, where the lack of depth and clarity in political discourse about war, he argues, is underscored by the ‘…double-talk, tautology, ambiguous cliché, self-righteous and doctrinaire pomposity and pseudo-scientific jargon‘ of contemporary rhetoric. It is hard, for example, to see the profound commitment and balanced, sincerely held thinking in the recent debates, of both sides, when they are characterised by saloon bar shouting or by a Bullingdon Club elitist mentality. Williams draws a faith based, comparative thread through his essay between the writings of George Orwell and Thomas Merton, as to be expected. We draw no focus on that aspect of the writing here. However, the Williams thesis about the quality of public discourse and the utility of language as a means of reinforcing and supporting power and political status is a telling one. Merton held, in an essay in 1967 War and the Crisis of Language, Williams tells us that ‘…the speech of military strategists and of politicians is characterised by a narcissistic finality. There can be no real reply to the careful and reasonable calculation of the balance of mass killing in a nuclear war, because everything is so…

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Capital and social good at scale

A colleague recently sent us a link to the short film below, about the entrepreneur Manoj Bhargarva, with much thanks to Joby for an interesting and inspiring example of the deployment of social good. Manoj Bhargarva has used traditional manufacturing skills and work flows, coupled to a very good first principle idea, to scale up production to generate cash. This money is then used, as can be seen in the film, to undertake significant projects that create socially useful outcomes. Our conversation that flowed from this was about capturing the energy of volunteers and the social economy to generate social good, in an old-fashioned activist way, but which is coupled to community benefit where cash is a tangential outcome only. Interestingly, you can see in the 80,000 Hours movement, how the next generation of UK political and business elites are becoming motivated by notions of ‘earning to give’. Generate cash and then give it to good causes, as in the Bhargava model. What if there was a new model of activism for social good, where the thing you scale is the activism itself? We have enjoyed seeing the growing support of the social economy from MP’s such as Chi Onwurah and Tristam Hunt. So we know there is a groundswell of activisim that might support a revolution in political party delivery based on the common good. Tristram Hunt MP made a speech in Walthamstow in November 2014 that nicely encapsulates a range of divisive issues, created by privilege, unequal access…

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The European flow…

How many people are trying to enter Europe as a result of conflict, immigration or as refugees? The routes across land are complex and often hidden, the headlines often inflammatory, in terms of political motive or the demonisation of others. In the web page, detailed below, Lucify in Finland, attempt to show how, for example, the numbers of individuals reaching the shores of Britain are relatively small. Using United Nations data for monthly counts and with the aid of innovative web graphics, you can see how flows rapidly diminish in an east to west direction. The point, tellingly made, is that all Syrian refugees arriving in Europe to 2015 could stand shoulder to shoulder on 11 soccer pitches. Where are the ‘hordes’? You can find the original Lucify web page here – http://www.lucify.com/the-flow-towards-europe/  

Seeing the light of day?

Embed from Getty Images   Collective Conversations is a new journal of the left, featuring socio-political analysis, thought, reflections and news from the interface between policy and people, commmerce and community. Subscribe by email or our rss newsfeed for regular, free updates and talking points… Leaning to the Left, thinking independently and arguing for humanity… this web journal is designed to engage with our community of interest and to show the data and depth of research behind major social and economic issues. Depth and topography that is often missed in the sound-bite or in the declining rallentando of Twitter discourse and detail. Call for submissions: We will research and write articles at your suggestion, or you can visit our contact the editor page with your own submissions or suggestions. Let’s have a conversation? (We do not accept anonymous contributions – also please note that all comments are moderated before publication). “If your heart is in the right place and you have good taste, not only will you pass muster in politics, you are destined for it. If you are modest and do not lust after power, not only are you suited to politics, you absolutely belong there.” Václav Havel – 5 October 1936 – 18 December 2011. Wikipedia tells you more…