We can all agree on something?
There is widespread frustration at the failure of partisan politics and traditional economics to reduce the toxic inequality that causes financial hardship, diminishes personal opportunity and restricts social mobility.
While it is clear that voters want these issues addressed, plainly demonstrated in the ballot box in June 2016 and June 2017, the political parties offer only piecemeal interventions that do not get to the root of the problem and only marginally address the cause not the symptoms. No wonder there are so many who are disengaged, despondent and despairing.
So instead of dwelling on these grievances, I suggest a seductively simple path forward. If we can develop and implement an inequality reduction strategy, then we will have better social outcomes, less financial hardship and greater social justice.
Everybody agrees that poverty is a bad thing, and nobody wants to live in constant financial hardship and under relationship pressure. This unhappy state is not inevitable but it has become the norm, we have come to accept that there are people who are financially secure and then there are the rest. So why do we let bad things happen and continue to talk about issues that only affect a few? Isn’t it time we stepped up the search for some common ground and really focus on putting an end to the constant austerity and focused more on prosperity?
Well, we can.
When we work together, we achieve great things. Once realistic goals are agreed, we know where we are going, but we need commitment. This means finding some common ground amongst political parties and related campaigning organisations so that goals could be decided that provide a framework on which political parties could then build policy proposals.
So I say, if we are going to make life better for the majority of people in this country, then we need to agree some core commitments. Commitments we can all sign up to, even though different solutions may be offered to achieve the vision of those commitments. But the first step on the road to success is to know where we are going.
I propose directly addressing the fundamental societal problems with these three core commitments:
1. Fair pay all the way. This is not just about a higher minimum wage in line with the Living Wage Foundation’s recommendations, but also addressing excessive high pay, while at the same time ensuring fair pay in the middle with no discrimination on gender, race, religion or any other unethical practices. All this is to make sure that everyone has the opportunity to have sufficient income to enjoy at least a basic standard of living, so that that they can have adequate shelter, nutritious food and can take care of their families.
2. Share in our success. We all create wealth from the work that we do, but currently it is accumulated by the few. So we should commit to finding ways to ensure that the nations wealth is put to use for the good of the nation and the benefit of all. Such funds could be used to provide additional resources particularly for the basic services as health and education.
3. Fund the future This means having an integrated infrastructure strategy for transportation and a commitment to build health, education and community facilities as well as efficient utilities for energy, water, wastage and high-speed communications.
So if we can guarantee fair pay, share the wealth we all help create and with that fund our future, we will have made great strides to reducing inequality, minimising financial hardship and increasing social mobility with the outcome of creating a more socially just and happy society. That’s what we want.
I believe that, by seeking cross-party and multi-organisational support for these commitments, we can start to build a consensus for change and common ground for actions. The partisan polarised approach has not delivered and it is time for a new approach with a true commitment to these fundamental issues.
This means leadership that puts partisan political posturing into the past and proposes a progressive programme for the people, all the people
If not now, when?
(This post was first published by Radix, the radical centre think tank on 3 May 2018 here)