For those of us both within and outside the world of politics, it’s been a summer like no other. We have been making the point for the past five years of ideologically driven austerity that it doesn’t have to be like this, that austerity is a political choice not an economic necessity.
A fuse has been lit and a new kind of more inclusive, less personalised politics has been let out of the bottle. There is an optimism about this campaign that has attracted people to come to meetings and debate political issues. Whatever the outcome, it is clear that a fundamental change of approach to our politics is long overdue.
Despite the barrage of attacks, hysteria and deliberate misrepresentation of the positions we have put forward, it is our message which is resonating.
What is extreme is not the popular proposals we are putting forward but this government’s cynical attempt to pay for a crisis on the backs of the poorest and most vulnerable. This was a crisis brought about by rampant speculation in the City and the deference of successive governments to that corporate lobby.
Our campaign, guided by ideas of social justice and prosperity for all rather than a select few, is one of pragmatism: for a strategic approach in which business, the state, and the population work cooperatively to create wealth; and for that wealth to reach all sections of society and all regions and nations of our country.
Our approach to policy making would be to democratise and open up our politics. If elected I will appoint a shadow cabinet of all talents, drawing in all wings of the party and our swelling membership to debate the future direction of our Party and country. Labour must become a campaigning force dedicated to defeating the Conservative’s politics, and then to defeat them electorally in five years time. Our party has been reinvigorated in this leadership campaign and the Tories should be under no doubt – we will use the surge in excitement about progressive politics to pursue them at every turn and focus our energies on a massive growth in campaigning politics.
We conceded too much of the economic narrative to George Osborne over the last five years. Far from losing because we were not ‘aspirational’ enough, we lost because we failed to articulate a convincing enough vision of how those aspirations would be achieved.
As eminent economists such as Ha-Joon Chang and Mariana Mazzucato outline, revolutions in all the key sectors such biotech, nanotech, the internet and the emerging green industries of the future have been dependent on strategic public sector investment able to fund the biggest risks and uncertainty before the private sector was willing to enter. Stable, long-term committed capital must be provided through a well-structured public investment bank to support our most innovative sectors, as Germany and Brazil have succeeded in doing. To quote Mazzucato, what is desperately needed is a “positive vision for a dynamic innovation economy”. Our campaign is about is modernising the Labour party to be the vehicle to make that change happen.
Opposition to austerity is now mainstream economics, and supported by even the IMF. We will not sit on the benches opposite and watch as the government continues with the most sustained attack on our welfare state and public intuitions in a generation. We would oppose them at every stage. Using every conceivable Parliamentary device, we will prevent or delay the Conservative’s programme of cuts, rip-off privatisations and pay-freezes.We will proudly defend the welfare state not just for it’s intrinsic value but for its historical role in boosting our economy by increasing education and training opportunities for all.
Our vision is of a country in which people are fulfilled – secure in their work, secure in their home, and able to better themselves. A more tolerant and kinder society in which people are supported by strong public services, and with more balanced economy built on the solid foundations of world leading infrastructure.
We urge those who share this vision to join us. Together we can achieve it.