Are we talking about the economy in completely the wrong way?
Framing the Economy is the largest ever study of how the British public understand the economy and how progressive organisations might communicate more effectively. The two-year project, run by NEF, the New Economy Organisers’ Network, the Frameworks Institute and the Public Interest Research Centre, included 40 in-depth interviews across the UK, 55 on-the-street interviews and a survey of 6,600 people.
Here are three things we learned…
What unifies the disparate measures that fall under the community wealth building banner is their potential to disperse power, wealth, and ownership away from centralized elites and into local communities. And while some of the steps can individually appear small and piecemeal – which is partly a strength as it means they can be put into practice right now – collectively they add up to something greater: a shift away from relying on the post-war social democratic model of taxing and regulating the economy to transforming ownership of the economy.
A recent report by Labour’s centre-right RedShift group on “reinvigorating Labour’s brand” calls for Labour to be more “surprising” and “counterintuitive”. An unnamed advisor is quoted as saying:
“We have to marry [resilient] Labour voters with a wider group by saying something surprising. Labour has not said anything surprising for eight years. We need to do something surprising. Genuinely surprising. I have not seen a Labour politician stand up and say something counterintuitive, surprising or brave for at least eight years. We have some kind of repetitive strain injury about calling the Tories rich toffs – I don’t think it makes a difference at all.”
[Note, Sep 2018: I wrote this post in the gloomy aftermath of Labour’s 2015 election defeat. There’s now a much stronger mood for change, and hence greater scope to boast about being “radical”, though I still stand by the conclusion that often it’s better to proclaim our ideas as common sense.]
Did Labour lose the election because it was too left wing? That’s become a standard explanation in right-wing newspapers and among some Labour commentators. But Hopi Sen – who sits on the right of the party and would be the first to complain about this sort of thing – has a different take:
Are you ‘Old Labour’ or ‘New Labour’? For ‘wealth creators’ or against them? A supporter of ‘aspiration’ or not? The whole debate around Labour’s future direction is being framed in terms that are obsolete or meaningless, or both.
The left’s love-in with devolution deepened with last month’s Compass-organised letter to the Guardian, signed by everyone from Progress on Labour’s right to Class on Labour’s left, alongside Greens and others. They may have been pushing at an open door in their call for Labour to devolve power. Both Ed Miliband and policy head Jon Cruddas have argued similarly in recent months, with Cruddas stating: “The real divide within Labour is no longer between left and right, but between those that centralise power and those that devolve it.”
- Book review: Reclaiming Public Ownership, by Andrew Cumbers
We Own It, 5/2/14
- Book review: In Place of Austerity, by Dexter Whitfield
- Taking back the centre: how the left in Britain can regain its voice
- Social media has transformed protest – and the Daily Mail
- The Tories’ campaign is stuck in a time warp
Evening Standard, 26/3/10