Progressive Governance Conference

Chile ’09

After the financial crisis – James Purnell

Posted by progressivegovernance09 on March 27, 2009

James Purnell, UK Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

(live notes, not verbatim)

Kevin Rudd said – we are at another moment where the progressives have to save capitalism from itself again

We must come neither to praise capitalism nor to bury it – need to make capitalism more egalitarian

People are spooked by a long boom being followed so quickly by such a sharp global recession

Progressives can’t promise more than we can deliver, but we can promise that we are the best people to respond

three key points

1 progressive government starts with investment in human capital UK has done more redistribution than any other nation (OECD).

2 From childcare to universities supportive welfare state equips people for the present – people losing livelihoods today do not deserve their fate – they are victims of global instability. The right will use crisis as argument to reduce generosity of welfare state. Progressives know welfare state is part of solution.

3 Rapidly expanding spending on public services is over. Forced to get more for each pound – so debate on reform is a necessity need to have courage to reform public services. Progressives cannot promise people a quiet life.

We may see revolution against the arbitrary power of capitalism. A fairer, egalitarian capitalism will lead to more economic growth. The  greatest injustice is when people cannot achieve their goals because someone in power stops them.

Credit crunch was a power failure – too much power in financial markets, too little in political systems. Need to disperse the power, get power down to the lowest possible level – don’t let too much power gather anywhere. Power needs to flow. People need to have power over public services – let them choose if their public services don’t deliver what they want.

Need to get power in the right places with the right nations around the table to fix supra national problems.  We want power to be spread and to be spread equally.   Capitalism spreads power, but it does so unequally. Government’s role is to ensure an even distribution of that power.

The left in taking power must release  it.

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