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Social Liberal Forum Conference: The Retreat from Globalisation

Saturday’s Social Liberal Forum conference in London  provided much food for thought as speakers challenged Liberal Democrat orthodoxy in various ways.

Beveridge Lecture

William Wallace kicked off proceedings by giving the annual William Beveridge Lecture. His theme was: Is a Liberal and Democratic society compatible with globalisation. His answer? Well, it disproportionately benefits the super rich and authoritarian states, so we have to change things to ensure that nobody is left out.

He started off by quoting Emmanuel Macron, who’s said he supported a market economy but not a market society.  He said our society was divided between the poor, unskilled and the relatively affluent highly educated. The gulf between them is cemented in successive generations. Globalisation had meant a substantial number of left behind people whose grievances were entirely justified. Those grievances led to the Brexit vote.

Challenging the idea that higher taxes harm the economy is key.  We need investment in public services and to recognise that the social fabric is damaged if there is too big a gap between wealthy CEOs and their workers.

He looked at business ownership and how little multi-national takeovers do for regeneration and how important it was that our financial and corporate leaders  tackled this.

We need to throw the “Citizens of Nowhere” thing right back at Theresa May, he argued, pointing out the super rich from across the world who dominate our economy.

One idea he had to improve social solidarity was to have all adults undertaking a year of Citizen’s Service working on a community project, or care home.

Giving people some sense of ownership and control over their destiny was key, whether that was by closer, more responsive local government or an increase of mutual ownership of companies.

Basic Income

Posted in Op-eds | 12 Comments

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