At the Cliff Edge – Part Three

Over Edge Part Three – the New Model (Economic) Army

Addendum – 16th January 2019

Following the devastating defeat for the ‘May Brexit Plan’, the rejection of the futile scheme now means we have gone over the cliff.

As the political consequences tumble from the Westminster table to the floor of the House, we will be left with a representative process itself unable to function, I suspect. It is this calamity that is undemocratic, not the cries from the right of the Tory Party that the previous questioning and seeking clarity has been claimed, in their eyes.

From the wasted, vast public expenditure spent in pursuit of narrow, partisan political ideological aims, to the new understanding by the majority of the population around the consequences and the complexity of misunderstood and ineffective negotiation on our behalf – now is the time to abandon the sly scheming of the Bullingdon Club as national policy and to reaffirm our collaborative, humanitarian commitment to the European project.

Or, at the very least to hold a new referendum to re-assert the will of the people, now a referendum of informed choice, to decide our fate collectively.

Without either, I would argue, there is no hope of a new socio-economic plan, as detailed below, in our increasingly isolated, beleaguered island.

‘…we argue that the UK must now embrace change on a sufficient scale to achieve ‘escape velocity’ from an economy that delivers neither prosperity nor justice, to one that achieves both. We face a decade of disruption ahead, in which doing nothing will drag us further backwards. Change of this magnitude is possible…’

The cliff edge - image
The perilous void approaches in March 2019…

Earlier in 2018 we saw the publication of the Final Report of the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) Commission on Economic Justice (…extract above). Entitled ‘Prosperity and Justice – The Plan for a New Economy‘ the report outlined several key policy areas to broaden ownership of industry, to make distribution of its wealth more equitable and to seek a new determination of social justice, linked to and driven by our economy.

There has been much recent popular debate about whether politicians are as adroit as they used to be. If they were not, then the world would be in utter and complete chaos. It is not of course, is it?However, if the car crash that is Brexit in 2019 does happen, then in the declared political spirit expressed by Brexiteers of all the mainstream parties, then we should embrace that change and increase management, accountability, economic democracy and community facility, through enterprise change as detailed in the IPPR report.

Prospetiy & Justice IPPR Report - cover image and web link
View, print or download your copy here…

Make it a cornerstone of a new political morality, to exercise the demons  of poverty, exclusion and hatred of the other. For future historians the Commission’s report adoption could be seen as the transformative Beveridge Report of its day.

Morality is a word chosen with care. We are being told that we cannot have a second referendum, or that the choices we have are ‘where we are’…and so on. To dispute or press for other solutions is anti-democratic. The people have spoken.

The people have spoken against and from within the context of political opportunism, party partiality in Parliament and rigid ideological dogma to satisfy the far right of  a rightist socio-political elite.

We must have a second referendum, precisely because of the flawed, deeply partisan and opportunist nature of the first. Those who decry the end of democracy in this debate are looking down the wrong end of the telescope.

Messages on the side of a bus, based on flawed data, the fear of another illusory ‘straight banana’ crisis, all coupled with the lack of intellectual weight of those making the original proposition mean that, now the obscuring veil of mis-reality, mis-understanding and mis-direction has been lifted – then now is the time for moral courage to be freed and to say we got it wrong and must revisit the question.

That is in the interests of the people. I find it hard to believe that the people of my generation who voted leave were casting their paper for soldiers on the streets, medicine hoarded at borders or the crisis that will surely overtake our business/research matrix, hospitals, schools and food distribution networks. It is seventy years of European peace that is at peril.

Indeed, in the previous two segments of this three part article (Brexit and Poverty) I have already been clear, and deeply saddened and angered, at the political processes that have sought such elite opportunist change, which for me and others, have been entirely in the wrong direction for our country and communities.

What politicians need, arguably, is a clear road map. One that is both linear, yet segmented into distinct policy areas that will illuminate process and outcome at a synergetic arrival point.

This aggregated outcome must be non-revolutionary, yet ground trembling enough for society at large to recognise that both process and outcome convene in a clear societal good, in which they are included.

The economic structures must retain adherence to some traditional rules of capital, so as not to deflate or redirect existing energies, yet that will alter the production/finance matrix enough to re-channel wealth and ownership without creating systemic fear of the change itself.

No mean feat, you may say? It is my hope that in reading the IPPR Commission on Economic Justice deliberations, you will recognise the suggested cartography.

We have to ‘hard-wire’ justice into the economy, not treat it as an afterthought…” says the report. Calamitous change is upon us and here is a framework for management.

This is an elegant echo of the thinking of Professor Philip Alston, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, published in his ‘Statement on a Visit to the United Kingdom‘ in late November 2018.

The professor, looking at the political wrangle over Brexit, for example, saw politicians considering the well being of individuals and communities as a afterthought, or somehow, a minor consideration which hampered the effect of political ideology at play. In the Professor’s report the word ‘austerity’ could easily have been substituted for ‘spite’, without any loss of efficacy in the argument.

The IPPR report also beggars the veracity of all the political swagger…

‘…behind the figures for growth the picture looks even more worrying. Across a whole range of economic indicators, the UK economy exhibits serious underlying weaknesses. On investment, research and development, trade and productivity, we perform worse than most of our European neighbours – and have done so not merely over the last ten years, but for much of the last 40…’

Reporting an insightful analysis if the UK economy, as it exists, the Commission go on to make a number of recommendations for policy change. Changes, which if executed, would transform prosperity, production and profits for all. They are…

  • Reshaping the Economy through Industrial Strategy
  • Securing Good Pay, Good Jobs and Good Lives
  • Turning Business towards Long-Term Success
  • Promoting Open Markets in the New Economy
  • Raising Public Investment in a Reformed
  • Macroeconomic Framework
  • Strengthening the Financial System
  • Spreading Wealth and Ownership across the Economy
  • Designing Simpler and Fairer Taxes
  • Ensuring Environmental Sustainability
  • Creating a New Economic Constitution

Although there are, clearly, policy activist organisations working to achieve the types of change called for in the report, it is the meta-narrative, the over-arching vision of the IPPR report that is its key distinction.

Prosperity and justice: A plan for the new economy – The final report of the IPPR Commission on Economic Justice

We commend the report to our readership, marking it as a defining sign-post for a new socio-economic national landscape. Get your copy and persist with the detail. Bring it up at branch meetings, write to the newspapers and tell the children that yes, there is another way.

If I never make it with my projects to Estonia, I shall go over the cliff with my family into a dark future…waving my IPPR Report copy aloft as we fall into the abyss.