- Ed Miliband offers his take on inequality and the political steps needed to combat it:
(T)he terms of the case against inequality have changed. I have always believed that inequality divides people, deprives many of the chance to succeed and makes us all worse off. But now there is good reason to believe that inequality isn’t just unfair but that it actually inhibits economic growth. ‘Widening income inequality is the defining challenge of our time,’ the IMF announced in a report last year: ‘We find an inverse relationship between the income share accruing to the rich (top 20 per cent) and economic growth … the benefits do not trickle down.’ Last May, the OECD published a study entitled In It Together: Why Less Inequality Benefits All. All this makes it possible for us to talk about equality not only in terms of fairness, but also as the means to prosperity. The UK is deeply unequal and has an unproductive economy when compared to its major competitors. There are good grounds for thinking the two facts are connected: a low-wage economy, which doesn’t invest properly in its workforce, is an unproductive economy. The mechanism that links low growth to inequality is still debated: some say that low wages for the majority cause low demand and low growth; others say that the social exclusion of a large segment of society has a depressive effect. But what is clear is that inequality must be tackled not just because it is important to distribute resources fairly but also in order to secure higher growth, from which everyone can benefit.- And Ally Foster reports on a panel discussion on the erosion of the middle class in Canada.
(F)inally, there is the question of how political change happens, and how to mobilise the millions of people needed to bring it about. Labour must make use of the opportunity afforded it by the remarkable number of new members it has gained since the general election. But it also needs to acknowledge the challenge it faces. The party emerged from the traditions of community organising, and some local Labour branches are now rekindling that spirit. To succeed, the party needs to be about more than knocking on doors, crucial though that is, and the passing of resolutions. Labour needs to use its expanded membership to build deeper roots in local communities, and to help people find the collective power to change things. In a way I didn’t manage, it needs to reinvent itself as a genuine community organisation.
This is a tough time to be a progressive in Britain, with the re-election of a government that seems determined to dismantle the progressive institutions that remain and to make inequality worse. Labour’s renewal must be built on ideas, the most underrated commodity in politics. Ideas create and sustain movements and inspire people – and indeed voters – to join a cause. The right can’t solve the problem of inequality because to do so would be to abandon too much of what they believe, from a belief in the small state to trickle-down economics. The deep injustices of modern capitalism compel us to find a better way of living together. The left should approach the coming years with a determination to renew itself but also with confidence in its values.
- Derek Leahy discusses the Libs' plans to include upstream emissions as part of the environmental review process for pipelines. But Mike De Souza notes that the Libs are already falling behind on international climate change reporting.
- Meanwhile, the list of the Cons' damage in need of repair continues to grow. On that front, Kady O'Malley notes that their changes to elections rules may have enabled third parties to engage in unlimited robocalling, while BJ Siekierski reports on the wide range of Statistics Canada data gathering which was scrapped for no apparent reason.
- Finally, Laurie Monsebraaten writes about the push for Ontario to lead a national movement on child care, rather than settling for wage subsidies as the upper limit of public action.