The NPF Economy, Business and Trade Report – some progress made, but a long way to go

In contrast to most of the other NPF Policy Commission reports the Economy Report proposals are more reflective of the new “Corbynite” Left Keynesian agenda than the poor quality material it produced prior to the General Election. This is obviously good in itself, but peculiar in policy development process terms. Thus, this latest report “touches base” on pretty much every key 2017 Manifesto commitment on the economy, and overall has a mildly Left Keynesian anti-austerity content and flavour throughout. Whilst those of us who have contributed to the NPF processes all year on this report obviously hope this improvement is partly based on our contributions, the marked Left Keynesian shift of this document is mainly due to the need to play catch-up with the hugely successful 2017 Labour Election Manifesto. A Manifesto which so confounded the massively dominant narrative within the PLP and Party bureaucracy according to which a reforming anti Austerity Left leaning approach could only spell electoral disaster. Continue reading

A 21st Century Energy Policy, Part 3: The Institutions to Make it Happen

PowerGridLinesAs discussed in Part 2, the transition to a low-carbon economy is a massive task requiring extensive government intervention. In the recent leadership campaign, Jeremy Corbyn promised to “promote the growth of over 200 ‘local energy companies’” and to “support the development of 1,000 community energy co-operatives”. Presumably by “local energy companies” he is referring to council-owned gas and electricity distributors such as Nottingham’s Robin Hood Energy. The “community energy co-operatives” would appear to refer the small generators of renewable electricity which can be found across Britain such as the Brighton Energy Co-operative. Continue reading

Instead of “trickle down” economics, why not “bubble up”?

Thomas Piketty

Thomas Piketty

Thomas Piketty is a French economist who recently took the economics world by storm.  He demonstrated that, in a modern, “free-market” economy, growing inequality is inevitable, unless we do something deliberately to counteract it. Piketty shows that, over hundreds of years and in technologically advanced economies in particular, the return on capital will always rise faster than the growth rate in the economy as a whole. The rich, in other words, will inevitably get richer, while the rest of us get comparatively poorer – and sometimes absolutely poorer as well.

It was only in exceptional times – for instance, in the period immediately after the Second World War – that we were able to buck this otherwise inexorable trend, and that was only because we elected governments that were inspired by post-war optimism to make a fresh start – to try consciously to create better and fairer societies, and to include everyone in what was hoped would be better times. Continue reading

Labour needs to rediscover comprehensive economic planning

manifesto1945In his barnstorming 2015 and 2016 Labour Leadership campaigns Jeremy Corbyn outlined a series of, very enthusiastically received policy offers of a distinctly left Keynesian, anti-austerity hue. These proposals ranged from renationalising the railways, to fully re-nationalising and refunding the NHS, establishing a universal free national education service, nationalising key utilities, controlling the banks more closely (the last two, significantly, subsequently dropped in the 2016 contest) and creating a National Investment Bank.  Unfortunately since his 2015 victory essentially nothing has been done to put flesh on the bones of these proposals, or indeed to position these disconnected proposals within a wider comprehensive radical Left Economic Programme.

This seems most peculiar to those of us old enough to have imbibed in our socialist youth the concept of socialism as intrinsically involving the modification, amelioration, and re-direction of priorities created by the unfettered free play of the capitalist Market, and their eventual replacement by a better, fairer, more rational, society beyond the capitalist marketplace. This transformational process was always seen by socialists as being driven forward by conscious, democratically determined, state-led comprehensive overall direction and planning, even in a still capitalist, “mixed” economy in a process of transition. Continue reading

How leaving the single market will crash the economy

ad_221423652_e1475423881572The British economy is extremely dependent on inflows of overseas capital. As a result, it is one of the last countries that should ever contemplate leaving the EU without a serious plan for reviving the economy with investment and trade. As we now know, no such plan exists, serious or otherwise. Instead the theme of the Tory party conference was not ‘Britain open for business’ or a similar claim of questionable authenticity. The message from the Tories was simply ‘foreigners go home!’.

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