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What the 3 main parties aren’t telling you: a radical way out of austerity

download (1)On budget day this Wednesday (18 March), I and 16 other contributors are launching in the House of Commons our book What the Three Main Parties are not Telling You: A Radical Way out of Stagnation and Inequality as a counter-blast to Osborne’s demand for another 5 years of austerity. Mariana Mazzucato refutes the conventional idea that the role of the State is simply to redress market failures; rather it funds not only the rate of innovation but also generates its direction. Ha-Joon Chang notes the tide of public opinion is steadily moving against privatisation and in favour of renewed public control, and he cites many international examples to confirm this.

Michael Burke argues that with the continuing strike by private investors and the failure of the banks to lend to industry, public investment is now critically needed to kickstart the economy on the path to sustainable growth (not the temporary uptick now fading which is all that Osborne has conjured up). David Blanchflower sets out a medium-term plan to cut the deficit and a short-term plan to boost growth driven by tax cuts to firms focused on job creation, especially for the young. John Mills demonstrates that with the balance of payments deficit spiraling upwards to probably £80bn this year, while net borrowing by consumers is still limited by falling wages and business investment remains flat, the government deficit (the balancing item) can hardly reduce and may well get higher.

In my own contribution I stress that the Tories are so hell-bent on semi-permanent austerity because it offers them the pretext, which otherwise they would never have, to shrink the State and squeeze public services into a fully marketised private system, and that the alternative of job creation and rising wages should be pursued by forcing RBS and Lloyds to prioritise investment in British industry, by quantitative easing target not at the banks but directly at manufacturing, and by taxing the super-rich.

Kelvin Hopkins spells out a detailed programme for restoring public ownership across a range of sectors. Prem Sikka outlines the casino mentality which still pervades both investment and retail banking 6 years after the crash, especially the very real continuing risk posed by toxic derivatives, and lays out a comprehensive set of reforms. Costas Lapavitsas (now a Syriza MP in Athens) explains why the failed Eurozone monetary union is fundamentally flawed.

Andrew Cumbers exposes the convenient fiction of the property owning democracy, and spells out how the return to public ownership must enhance democratic and decentralised forms of participation as opposed to the State-run nationalisations of the 1940s. Len McCluskey pinpoints the very sharp decline in workers covered by collective bargaining from 82% in 1979 to 23% now as the major factor behind the falling share of salaries and wages from 65% in 1980 to 53% in 2012, and posits a stronger trade union presence as the only way to create more just and equal workplaces with proper employment rights. Richard Wilkinson & Kate Pickett return to their theme of The Spirit Level in setting out the social cost of inequality and how to reduce income differences.

Austin Mitchell spells out in florid style the current political impasse, as well as demanding the urgent restoration of a full-blown house-building programme. Richard Murphy presses the issue of tackling tax avoidance/evasion as an essential prerequisite for social democracy. Alan Simpson in a scathing essay makes the case for a profound energy revolution, and Caroline Lucas urges the replacement of consumerism and obsession with GDP growth at all costs by a commitment to the real goals of equality, security and quality of life.

The book will be launched at a meeting in the Wilson Room in the House of Commons at 6.30pm this next Wednesday (18th). The speakers will be John Mills, Ann Pettifor, Richard Murphy, and myself. Everyone is welcome: I look forward to seeing you there.

The book is available here


  1. Jim Moores says:

    I would like to attend the event in the Wilson Room on the 18th. Can I do so?

  2. Barry Ewart says:

    All this sounds pretty good but collectively is it dynamic enough?
    I would go for Windfall Taxes on big business, taxing the rich and land, a substantial EC Financial Transaction Tax, reintroduce taxes on private landlords with multiple properties, a massive house buiding programme with a massive refurbishment of empty homes to buy and rent (using the billions saved from the £12b housing benefit bill from introducing rent controls).
    Collect the £30b uncollected taxes from the rich, close tax havens and illicit offshore banking – austerity is a political agenda for the Right, an opportunity to achieve a minimal state, a market in everything and cheap labour.
    We need a political agenda to redistribute wealth,power and have more democracy including more say and involvement at work.
    We need more democratic public ownership with staff electing boards but for example with the public utilities could pay a community dividend which could also address fuel povert.
    We could have free public transport, funding globally for more solar panel farms in the World’s deserts to meet energy needs and address climate change.
    We need to clear the debt at a stroke, have many billions in reserve for a rainy day and begin long-term public investment to do good pluus a living wage.
    We should also fund a leaflet to every home selling what trade unions have achieved and encouraging people to join.
    But most fundamentally we also need to work with our sister parties internationally so working people in every country in the World are making the same demands at the same time. I wish the book launch every success!

  3. Barry Ewart says:

    Footnote on housing- the Left needs to think about changing the culture too re home ownership.
    We may have to reform banks and buiding societies but people could buy 25-50% of a home and get the rest on a 120 year lease.
    The result would be that people had a lovely home for life if they wished instead of thinking of housing as purely a financial investment.
    We have got to stop managing and think more about changing society for good.
    Yours in solidarity!

  4. since most people cannot get to the meeting, how do we get hold of the book?

    Trevor FIsher

    1. Robert says:

      You have to wait until the launch and then it will be out and can be I suspect bought from Amazon

  5. however I emailed Michael Meacher and he promised to send a copy. So the organisers need to work out how to get the booklet sent out.

    More good initiatives get lost through poor organization than any other reason. As Joe Hill said, don’t mourn ORGANISE

    Trevor Fisher

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