Sunday 14 November 2010

Tough on inequality, tough on the causes of inequality

Well, I have scraped back onto the Liberal Democrats' Federal Policy Committee.  Rather by the skin of my teeth.

So thank you so much to everyone who voted for me. 

Every time I get re-elected onto the FPC I feel a little bit more strongly that I didn't try hard enough to shift things over the previous twelve months, and I feel that even more strongly now I have been on it for twelve years.  So I shall try very hard not to let any of you down this time...

Because everything is changing now.  For the past twelve years, the policy committee has been about agreeing safe policy that ruffles no feathers, and that fits neatly into a small box marked 'bright ideas, not too dangerous'.  Heavens, that has to change now - at least if the Lib Dems are to survive their encounter with government.

The policy committee isn't really designed for achieving anything else, but we have to somehow make sure it does.  Starting with a distictively Liberal vision of public services - which are human-scale, effective and preventive (rather than inhuman-scale, ineffective and symptomatic in the New Labour model).

But what strikes me most about our policy failures over the past decade, and our failure to spell out a distinctive public service vision is one of those, is that it is way beyond time we rid ourselves of the old Fabian legacy.

Fabians have put tax and benefits at the heart of their policy, and have led Labour to do the same.  The result is that the causes of inequality - of the stark divisions between rich and poor - have been left untackled.  They are happy just to pick up the pieces after the damage has been done, and ameliorate it a little.

No more.  If I have anything to do with it (and maybe I will), the Liberal Democrats will be constructing radical policies that deal with the causes - which means tackling corporate privilage and monopoly power.  The sooner the better, as far as I'm concerned.

1 comment:

Gordon said...


The FPC as it currently operates is simply not fit for purpose although how it can be changed I have no idea. My experience is that committees dedicated to the idea of playing it safe and sticking with the familiar, however inappropriate, wall off irritant voices much as an oyster does a bit of grit.

To inform your thinking may I be so bold as to suggest three books I have read recently each of which is highly relevant in one way or another. They are (in suggested reading order):

1) Cornered: The new monopoly capitalism and the economics of destruction by Barry C. Lynn

2) Debunking Economics: The naked emperor of the social sciences by Steve Keen

3) How Rich Countries Got Rich... and Why Poor Countries Stay Poor by Erick Reinert.

All are hugely thought-provoking in a radical way. The first is quite easy, the others require a reasonably interest in and appetite for economics though not to degree level.