Your chance to shape Lib Dem policy on… the UK’s response to Globalisation

Globalisation is changing our world.

Liberal Democrats have generally welcomed it – as well as putting forward views about how we should seek to influence its development.

But it is a fact – and it has consequences for own domestic UK economy.

A policy working group chaired by Lord (Robin) Teverson is looking at what Britain needs to do respond to the processes of globalisation and to equip ourselves for the globalised twenty-first century economy.

Their consultation paper – on which they are inviting comments from all party members – looks at several aspects of this.

A first group of questions are around the economic impacts within the UK. What infrastructural and technological developments are needed to enhance the UK’s competitiveness? What is the right role for government in that – and what are the risks of state intervention here? How should governments properly seek to help British companies compete – and how can government and business best work in partnership to ensure the right skills among employees?

Then there are questions about how we should respond to some social aspects. What should our attitude be to increased economic migration? What are the best ways to address the resulting community cohesion questions – and what is the right role for welfare spending here? Does more welfare spending threaten the UK’s competitiveness – or in fact help promote it, as there is some evidence from other countries to suggest?

A third set of issues is around the environmental impacts of globalisation on the UK’s economy: how do we balance reducing the environmental impact of the UK’s economy with our need for competitiveness? In particular how can we do that without simply outsourcing negative environmental impacts elsewhere? And how can we take advantage of the opportunities in this area for the UK’s economy?

How can we promote the different regions of the UK to maintain and develop competitive industries within the globalised systems – and what should different levels of government do to help their local areas, and learn from each other?

Finally – and crucially, I believe – how can we politically manage globalisation? The process of globalisation, and national politicians saying they have no ability to respond in a global economy, and a sense that your job in Tewkesbury can be cut by a decision of a board in Tokyo, is perhaps the most disempowering feature for many people. How can we help people to feel involved in some of these processes – and actually be involved?

The working group would welcome your views on any of these issues, and they will help inform them in developing the proposals that they will bring to conference this autumn.

* Jeremy Hargreaves is Vice Chair of the Liberal Democrats’ Federal Policy Committee (FPC) which is responsible for the party’s policy making. He is also part of the writing group preparing the Liberal Democrats’ manifesto for the next General Election.

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13 Comments

  • Geoff Payne 28th Mar '08 - 2:24pm

    It would be worth defining globalisation for a start, for many the term seems interchangable with neo-liberalism. In reality I would have thought it is more to do with what is happening on a global scale, whether the usage of the internet or global warming.
    I do not think we can say it is good or bad, there is too much involved. Every layer of government from the UN downwards needs to take action against the worst aspects of globalisation; global warming, nuclear poliferation, terrorism, crime cannot be left unattended.
    Not everything that we think should be globalised is necessarily going to do so. Democracy in Iraq is a farce for example. We should not let ideas around globalisation encourage us to assume that every country regardless of history or culture is destined to become whatever we ourselves prefer and believe in, whether liberal, socialist, capitalist, religious or secular.

  • Geoff Payne, globalisation is not the enemy of national independence. Nation-states can still play a role in a global economy. I don’t think Nick Clegg, as prime minister, would abolish his own job! 🙂

    Though there should be devolution of powers to local government, communities and individuals whenever possible.

  • passing tory 28th Mar '08 - 2:50pm

    For you, Geoff, everything you don’t like is interchangable with neo-liberalism. It ceases to mean anything.

  • I don’t understand the term ‘neo-liberalism’.

    Liberalism is as old as the mountains are to climb and as crisp and fresh as the flowering snowdrops by the path. Anything ‘neo’ about it is akin to building a rollercoaster off the side of the scarp.

    Globalisation, meanwhile, is an unavoidable process which has been going on since the beginning of time – the negative consequences we experience are the result of political failures by non-liberal anti-democrats who wish to twist the universe to the benefit of their personal/group empire.

    The only way to deal with the issues that arise is to have solid integrated structures and institutions which are accessible, responsive and accountable on a human scale at all levels of state/governmental service.

    Not only is ongoing communication the best way to produce prosperity it is the only way to resolve conflict and avoid dissolution, disruption and disintegration.

  • Asquith, you say there’s no future for low-paying, low-education jobs and for reliance on migration.

    But such jobs will always be necessary (if not necessarily low-paying). How do you propose to fill them? Automation can fill some of them, but not all.

  • I think you’re underestimating the size of the unskilled or semi-skilled market. Students in summer and near-retirees are very limited labour forces, so you’ll need a lot of migrants and temporary workers to make up the odds.

    Ireland carved their niche with more than just developing skills and attracting decent jobs, they cut taxes and spending to the bone, bagged loads of EU money and played up the old boys network with the USA.

  • The capabilities of many Asians are by far higher than those of many locals. The solution is not that all locals should get a longer education than most Asians. Many locals suit better to hands-on jobs and many Asians, students and near-retirees to mental jobs. Those hands-on jobs are, in the future, more often but not always service jobs.

    The solution is not more education. It might be partially more education and partially better education but also partially letting the market forces work and guide people to where they suit best – sometimes to low-skill jobs. Taxation and social security system should be such that also low-skill, low-capability people can have a decent life. But we cannot equalize everything if we want to have a growth and employment that leads to a much better life for everyone in the future, decade by decade.

    Schooling vouchers and increased competition by private schools might improve also public schools (as in Sweden) and reduce problems in schools, but it is important that market forces would have a bigger role everywhere in the economy.

  • I am an economic liberal and i do study economics and yor forgetting that education is a public good!we tried providing it via the state before the middle of the 20th century and it didn’t work, the richer got smarter while the poor just had no chance to get out of being poor, thats why the state provides education, as it does in most countries!
    Also we shouldn’t forget that uni, etc is the only education, we need plumbers and electricians for everyone else to be able to go out and have city jobs, etc, we need to be helping kids who don’t like education into the sectors like in germany

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