LibLink: Simon Hughes – Profits must no longer go to the few at the top

Over the weekend, Liberal Democrat deputy leader, Simon Hughes, penned a piece for the Guardian’s Comment Is Free site arguing that Britain needs to become a more equal place both in terms of the distribution of wealth and of opportunity.

Here’s a sample:

We must now focus on the redistribution of wealth. But this will not succeed by means of greater hand-outs. Financial benefits must seek to engage people positively. The redistribution of hope and opportunity means the redistribution as well as the creation of work. Co-operative and mutual businesses and social enterprise should be prioritised. The private sector, like the public sector, should not be allowed to get away with obscene pay ratios and bonuses. All employers should be required to consider how they can increase employment and training, by themselves or with others.

Where communities are unable to provide work the government must be prepared to intervene.

A responsible economy is necessary for a responsible society. Building local, regional and national economies which provide the opportunity for all to participate in for fair reward will build much stronger communities. This will counter the appeal of the gangs and the get-rich-quick merchants. Other people and activity must now capture the energies and abilities of a generation that has greater potential than any we have had before.

You can read Simon’s piece in full here.

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16 Comments

  • Taxation is the most efficient means of wealth redistribution.

  • Daniel Henry 16th Aug '11 - 7:56pm

    I like his vision but do we have concrete policies to make them happen? Can we get them past our coalition partners?

    Having the vision and values is a start but we need to follow this up with policy.

    What can we do to grow the mutual and cooperative sector?

  • @g

    How well did it work between 1997 and 2010?

  • Simon McGrath 16th Aug '11 - 9:48pm

    Ah another vote winning policy from Simon Hughes. higher taxes on the middle classes.

    IaainBB – I am all in favour of more worker involvment but if emplpyees have the same rights as shareholder why would anyone invest in the companies?

    @John – why is “his primary aim is to encourage global corporations to site their EU operations in the UK” a bad thing?

  • This is all meaningless unless we are prepared to change the law on corporate governance to provide the necessary information and empowerment to shareholders to hold directors properly to account.

    This would improve the efficiency of the private sector by ensuring that companies are run in the interests of shareholders rather than to featherbed directors and board members with obscene pay ratios and undeserved bonuses and perks.

    It would also help to ensure that there was more money in private pension pots that many people rely on for their retirement.

  • Hywel, would that be the period when the Labour party decided they were comfortable with the extremely rich? That was probably their greatest failure from a wealth inequality pov. But the statistics show that Gordon Brown’s tax credits were essential in preventing the gap between the poorest 10% and the rest increasing.

    But since you are so concerned about wealth inequality, care to justify tuition fees, public service cuts, increases in train fares above inflation, utility bills, and all the other costs that have risen in part due to councilt tax freezes and cuts since the Coalition was formed and which disproportionately fall on lower earners?

  • Peter Chivall 17th Aug '11 - 11:30am

    @John Roffey – if we were out of the EU, surely we would be even easier prey for the global corporations. The big problem is our over-reliance on financial services and international financial trading. Global Corporations are able to swamp what remains of our industry because our lack of rules of corporate governance and the assistance of the of the casino banking sector make it easy for them. Kraft could take over Cadbury and tear up any assurances over plant closures with impunity. Such things don’t happen in Germany or France, which have proved much more resilient economies in the current recession than our own.
    @Daniel Henry – not only would a policy on revising Company Law to include rights for employees and the wider community be just and more efficient in curbing short-termism, it would also help us re-define Liberal Democrats in the public’s mind as the Party of mutuality and community. Since such policies would be unlikely to be enacted before 2015 anyway, we should re-adopt them as a Party and let the Tories and Labour act as the apologists for corporate interests.
    Incidentally, I don’t know if Robert Oakshott is any relation to the LibDem peer Matthew Oakshot but it would be interesting to know if Matthew shares the former’s views on employee ownership.
    BTW – the 3 best performing supermarket chains (in growth) in the last period were Lidl and Aldi (German, family owned) and Waitrose (John Lewis partnership, mutual). The lowest growth was ASDA, owned by US Corp Walmart.

  • Labour spent 13 years making the country more and more unequal. The economy grew for most of their term but who benefited? The income of the top 0.1% grew way faster than inflation whilst the income of the bottom 50% didn’t keep up with inflation. Most people grew poorer in real terms.

    The young are especially screwed. They’ll end up with huge debts if they go to university and Labour created a property boom that will prevent many young people being able to buy a home. Many young people will end up paying huge amounts of money to buy to let landlords and be left with nothing as a result of Labour building less council housing than the Conservative government before them.

    Labour voters couldn’t stomach them by 2010 but they wouldn’t accept the Tories fully either.

    The centre left is considerably bigger than the centre right but it was divided as most Lib Dem voters were centre left voters. But I suspect the coalition has changed this, much of the Lib Dems centre left vote will go to Labour at the next election and I think the Labour Party will win that election despite their appalling record in government, in government Labour are moderate Tories minus civil liberties. Lib Dems appear to just be plain old Tories.

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