Tag Archives: economy

Workers’ Councils – one way to take back control of our economy

When Theresa May suggested that businesses ought to set up workers’ councils, she was said by many commentators to be moving to the centre ground, perhaps to hoover up centrist voters put off by Labour’s leftwards drift. Whatever the political motivations, it is an extremely interesting idea. Is it one that liberals should support? Absolutely, because it can help people take back control — in a meaningful way.

A lesson from the EU referendum was that many people are dissatisfied with the economic system. The slogan “Take Back Control” was vague to the point of meaninglessness, but psychologically potent for people …

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Tim and Vince write for the Times on the need for ministers to provide leadership on Brexit strategy

Tim Farron and Vince Cable have written for the Times’ Red Box website setting out what they think should happen in negotiations with the EU and in economic strategy as we face a self-induced Brexit recession.

As Nick Clegg said before the referendum, so called Project Fear was understating the impact Brexit would have. We are also suffering a void of leadership and some very unrealistic thinking from the Brexit camp who, as we discovered, didn’t really have a plan.

We can’t hang about, they say:

Business and investors won’t wait around forever to see leadership.  Many first tier organisations will simply pack their bags and go unless they see a path ahead.  Meanwhile our smaller businesses, and particularly those in high risk/ high innovation sectors will feel the squeeze as bank lending dries up as it did in 2008.

Two things need to be done. You get the feeling this was filed before yesterday’s extraordinary events:

The first can only be done by leaders of Leave – those who wish to lead us into the new unknown – and in particular, Boris Johnson and Michael Gove.  They must now show his vision for the UK and provide a clear plan for Britain’s relationship with the EU.  To reassure the market they, and other potential prime ministers, need to make clear that membership of the single market is the priority ask for any negotiations.  Businesses need to know that, whatever else, their key relationships will not have to fundamentally change.

It will require real leadership, rather than populist platitudes.  It may mean securing a deal which pleases no one and does not address many of the concerns raised by leave voters about immigration and freedom of movement.  Leading is about making choices, it’s now time for Boris and Gove to tell us theirs.

The second urgent priority must be the responsibility of the current government.  There is now every likelihood of a Brexit recession.  If the government acts now, by abandoning its already unnecessary financial straitjacket and allowing capital investment and stimulus support to flow into precarious parts of our economy, we might avoid the worst impacts on jobs and livelihoods. The economy could be stimulated through the Network Rail Capital Project and local authorities being allowed to borrow to build houses. The £250bn the governor of the Bank of England has put aside could be put into the Funding for Lending and the Regional Growth Fund.

Of primary concern must be our most innovative industries.  Those businesses on the cutting edge are likely to see funding from traditional financial institutions dry up as banks revert to their core business model.  Giving serious financial help and stability to these industries is vital to ensure their long term future in the UK.

The British Business Bank, set up by the Lib Dems in Government, is a crucial part of the support for business that’s needed:

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Rennie: We need to keep access to EU markets easy for business

Willie Rennie argues today that we need to make sure that we keep access to EU markets easy for business. We don’t want to be putting borders up, creating more red tape, which could cause problems and cut jobs. He says:

At the heart of the argument for remaining in Europe is a single market, making trade easier, and allowing businesses based on innovation and excellence to thrive is going to underpin our future success.

That was the argument that won the independence referendum and is just as powerful now.

Three million jobs in Britain depend on Europe. We need to make Europe easy for business.

As part of Europe we are part of an economic market worth trillions. There are 500 million customers.

It means that a Scottish company that is good and efficient at its job can expand across the continent.

Easy access to 500 million customers is worth millions of jobs in Britain.

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Can the Liberal Democrats provide a vision for Britain that the disaffected can support?

A few weeks ago Liberal Democrat Voice published an article by Lord William Wallace entitled Could Trumpland reach Britain in which William Wallace argued that we need to firstly “pay more attention to ‘the bottom third’ of society.” He identified that “what used to be called ‘the white working-class’ has deserted the Democrats in the USA” and spoke of the rise of Marine le Pen in France and UKIP in Britain.

Lots of liberals talk of the rise of inequality over the last 30 or so years. However few if any talk of the major causes of this – firstly the rejection of managing the economy to provide full employment where everyone will have a job. Some people talk of their experience in the 1960’s and 70’s by saying you could hand in your notice on a Friday and within a week you would have a new job and some would say by Monday or Tuesday they would have started their new job.

Secondly the increase in the mobility of labour. In Britain we have seen this most clearly from the 2004 EU enlargement, but in worked in favour of British building workers in the 1980’s who went to West Germany as in “Auf Wiedersehen, Pet

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Cakeonomics and Free Trade

 

Crumbs!

Not heard of Cakeonomics?

Cakeonomics is a simplified, quick and sometimes fun approach to economics and its connections with everyday life. It uses the metaphor of cake in an effort to make Economics more accessible and attractive, so that more of us can ask better questions about it and be sharper at assessing any answers. We need stronger, more confident knowledge to better analyse and help address the problems of our times, which are also likely to be the problems of our children and theirs.

Your piece of cake depends on various factors. Two crucial factors are the size of your slice and the size of the cake from which your slice comes.

Here’s some data and information about the global economic cake:

The richest 1 per cent increased its income by 60 per cent in the last 20 years (1992-2012) with the financial crisis accelerating rather than slowing the process.

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Kramer: Cameron and Osborne must stand up to despots and oligarchs

Lib Dem Economics Spokesperson Susan Kramer was not entirely impressed with David Cameron’s pronouncements on corruption. It’s fair to say she won’t be holding her breath. She said:

We welcome the Prime Minister’s announcement that those buying property in the UK or bidding for government contracts will be required to register, but quick action is vital for him to show sincerity, and any such register should be publicly available.

Don’t forget, we have heard similar platitudes before that have amounted to nothing. Back at the G8 conference in 2013 a new drive against tax havens was heralded, and the Panama Papers have exposed just how pathetic that action turned out to be.

When push comes to shove, Cameron and Osborne have shown they will always cater to the whims of corrupt billionaires from across the globe rather than pushing through real change. Unless they are willing to stand up to despots and oligarchs from places like China, Russia and Nigeria, any commitment will prove to be utterly shallow.

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Reducing the Government’s Deficit is not the same as reducing the UK’s Deficit.


Now that the immediate fuss over the recent Budget has died down a little it is perhaps time for some more considered reflection on the nature of any criticism on the failure of the government, and George Osborne in particular, to make anywhere near the progress promised on the question of cutting the budget deficit. Maybe we can get it right for the next time it hits the headlines. The deficit problem is not going to be solved any time soon.

Naturally, the duty of an opposition is to constructively oppose, and so if the government’s deficit does not fall and total debt does rise, when the Government has a clear policy for just the opposite, then the Lib Dems, together with the other left of centre opposition parties, need to point out the failure of that policy. However, we need to be careful. That argument can be easily turned around. So we are in favour of even higher taxes and even more drastic cuts in public spending, are we? And when we say we are not, how does that chime with the public? Will they accept we are really being constructive? Aren’t they just going to think we want it both ways?

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 8 Comments
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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarAl 28th Jul - 6:45pm
    We had this discussion on the run up to the Scottish Independence referendum. It was the unionists including the Liberal Democrats that insisted that it...
  • User Avatarpaul barker 28th Jul - 6:14pm
    Looking at the history of the ward on The VoteUK Forum, this should have been an easy win for The Greens, Labour took the 3rd...
  • User Avatartheakes 28th Jul - 5:48pm
    Talking about elections see they are still counting in Australia, unbelivably ABC is reporting 91% only counted, what almost 4 weeks after the polling. Think...
  • User AvatarCaracatus 28th Jul - 5:45pm
    Government spending is £740 billion, £2 billion is not 1% of that. It's not even 1/2 of 1%, it's about 1/4 of 1%. Is this...
  • User AvatarNeil Sandison 28th Jul - 4:57pm
    Do we know if Liz Truss inhaled ?
  • User AvatarTim13 28th Jul - 4:46pm
    That is, the latter sources, rather than the former.