This Think Piece examines the overarching themes that run through our series, 'In the public interest: the role of the modern state.' It critically examines the evolving functions of the state in the UK, EU and USA. The piece emphasises that it is urgent that the prevailing neoliberal mould is broken, a new social contract is urgently forged, and a positive narrative developed as to the function, capabilities and extraordinary resources that a proactive state can command.
All countries have a state sector whatever the political nature of their governments and their economic and social systems. Enduring questions remain as to the limit of the state, and for what purposes it should be used. Answers have varied across times and regions with fierce debates over policy programmes for more privatisation or greater public ownership. This paper argues that while there is a definite need to engage public service users and staff in the provision of services, accountable politicians have to be the guardians of those services as they are the only ones with the power and authority to control the senior managers who run them. Local councils should have enhanced, rather than diminished roles, but MPs and ministers are the final decision-makers and should neither hide behind fake protocols nor wash their hands and run for cover. State ownership remains a necessary condition but notes that public ownership alone will not be sufficient to achieve efficiency and justice. For that to happen more has to be done. Sensible economic planning, integrated systems thinking, and the application of the best science and technology in the interests of citizens will be the future of public service delivery.
This paper examines the effects of three decades of privatisation on public services. It argues that the privatisation and marketization policies of successive governments have delivered the economy into the hands of a narrow set of vested corporate and financial interests. The consequences are that decision-making is geared towards short-term profit and rent-seeking, at the expense of more longer-term thinking and in particular strategic concerns for the common good. In response, this report argues that the UK needs to rethink its approach to ownership and control of the economy, developing more democratic institutions and structures that re-distribute economic decision-making power beyond its capture by financial, corporate and foreign interests. In particular we need to create new forms of public and collective ownership that are better able to develop an economy to serve social needs and environmental concerns over private gain. Such forms of ownership should combine higher level strategic coordination with more localised forms of public ownership.
Drawing on a range of evidence, this short Think Piece looks at the role of the labour movement in achieving a more equal society. The weakening of the labour movement during the last quarter of the 20th Century has had a significant impact on the ability of working people to influence their standard of living and quality of life. This paper argues that we must now recreate a movement with the political and social influence that enabled the former labour movement to achieve the major reductions in inequality during the middle decades of the 20th Century.
This paper from renowned economist Prof Costas Lapavitsas explains that the structural problems within the UK and other mature economies that were brought to the surface during the crisis of 2007-9, are inherent to contemporary mature capitalism. He argues that the problems have to do, primarily, with financialisation - a process that would not have been possible without the active and enabling role of the state - and that if financialisation is to be tackled reversing privatisation and re-establishing public ownership must become priorities.
This essay charts the rise of xenophobia as a Europe-wide phenomenon, which has become more of an urgent threat following the increase in popularity of far-right parties such as UKIP. The essay calls upon European progressives to take on far-right parties across the continent.
This paper, impressive in its breadth and scope, examines 150 years of the British education system and demonstrates how an historic commitment to mass education has led to a counterproductive emphasis upon formal learning, even in nursery school children, at the expense of play and creative and engaging activity.
This essay examines the concept of a Social Europe, a concept which put the values of collectivism, equality and solidarity, firmly at the heart of the EU. This paper was asks whether a left agenda for Europe could promote a renewed focus on securing a Social Europe and with it a ‘Social Britain’.
This essay examines the causes of the European financial crisis, and argues for a European Green New Deal to tackle the economic crisis in the Eurozone, address the domination of the financial sector across Europe and stem the growing influence of the far-right.
As the European Elections approach, the media spotlight is increasingly focussing in on Europe and, more specifically, the European Union. In light of this, Class set out to make a weighty, yet balanced, contribution to the debate. We asked six key figures from across the labour and trade union movement, with differing attitudes to the EU, the same question – “Can the European Union deliver for working people?” – and have compiled their responses in this publication.
Addressing the argument that migrants are a drain on British resources, this Class pamphlet exposes common myths around immigration . This pamphlet addresses the fact that migrants have been used as scapegoats for a fall in living standards and shows that migrants make a positive contribution to the economy.
This paper argues that there has been virtually no structural reforms to the financial sector since the financial crisis of 2008. Despite the organised gambling and anti-social practices by the banks which undermined the stability of the entire economy, it remains business as usual for the financial elite. The corrosive effects of neoliberalist values have been most evident in the financial sector, where profits have been made from selling abusive financial products, money laundering, tax avoidance, sanction busting, speculation on commodities and land, takeovers and insider trading. There are no constraints on speculative activities and financiers routinely gamble ordinary people’s savings and pensions on an unprecedented scale. This reckless gambling produces little, if any, real additional wealth, but its destructive effects have had serious consequences for the average household and the wider economy. The financial sector has colonised the state in such a way that political power has been subordinated to corporate interests. Through their capture of the state, neoliberals have diluted, if not eliminated, the risk of business bankruptcy in the financial sector. There is an urgent need for reforms that check the worst excesses of neoliberalism by strengthening democratic control and accountability in the banking sector.
Our factsheets feature the best articles, the most relevant statistics, and the most up-to-date information to get you clued up on the issues everybody is debating. This factsheet focuses upon the 50p tax rate, after Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls pledged to reintroduce the policy at the 2014 Fabians Conference in January.
Our factsheets feature the best articles, the most relevant statistics, and the most up-to-date information to get you clued up on the issues everybody is debating. This factsheet focuses on bankers' bonuses - set to be big news in the coming weeks as RBS gears up to award its staff massive payouts.
The authors of this Class and Institute of Employment Rights joint report set out a timely argument for the introduction of a statutory framework for collective bargaining. Keith Ewing and John Hendy trace the historical background to the current economic crisis – including the dismantling of trade union rights by successive governments since 1980 – and set out a viable alternative for economic growth based on international law and best European practices. The end result is a considered and fully evidence-based policy recommendation summed up in a succinct ten point manifesto for collective bargaining.
This paper argues that the increased involvement of the private sector in the education system has resulted in selection processes which favour the privileged and neglected the poor. The reluctance of the state to be involved in the education system has made it messy, patchy and diverse. The current system of education in England is beginning to resemble some aspects of the pre-1870 system of education. The paper calls for a new 'back to basics' approach which considers the purpose of education and what it means to be educated. This means an end to the focus on standardised testing and performance, and a greater involvement of communities, students, parents and teachers.
Exposing the myths that austerity has 'saved the economy', 'reduced debt', 'brought down borrowing' and 'kick-started recovery' - this Class briefing gives the facts and realities behind the lies. This pamphlet has been produced to expose the Coalition Government’s lies and prove that there are alternative routes back to jobs, higher living standards and economic recovery. Austerity hasn’t worked and it won’t work.
Self-regulated payday lenders have exploded on the consumer credit scene since the recession and financially vulnerable individuals are now starting to feel the impact of this new type of lender on the high street. This paper shows that over a million people took out payday loans in 2012. Much of this borrowing is to pay for food and other essentials or bills – not the outcome of financial imprudence that some would have you believe.
This paper shows that the 1930s were the last time the population of Britain was as polarised in terms of their health as we are today. It was not simply the introduction of the NHS that halved inequalities in health in Britain between the 1930s and early 1950s. The overall improvement in living standards brought about by the introduction of the welfare state had a significant impact. When it comes to providing a health service, it is harder to provide a good health service in a more economically unequal country. This paper suggests that policies 'in place of fear' need not be costly but they need to present a genuine commitment to tackling inequality.
Proponents of the argument that tax-financed or ‘free’ health care is a privilege we can no longer afford are unable to explain why universal health care was instituted when the world’s economy was very much smaller than it is today. This paper asks - if the UK could create an NHS when the country was literally bankrupt, why in England (but not in Scotland or Wales) can the government not sustain the NHS today? They suggest the answer is political and not financial and that the response of the left must be political too.
This paper argues that our current land economy does not serve us well. In response, it proposes a Land Value Tax for the UK. A Land Value Tax, targeted at unproductive wealth and speculation, could help deliver the house-building revolution – and the economic revival – our country desperately needs. In the end though, the proposition is simple. The few who own this land of ours should not get off tax-free while too many people cannot afford a decent home.
This paper seeks to show that the policy of austerity that has increased idleness and has now given rise to the additional problem of disguised underemployment, makes no economic sense. Focusing on fiscal and taxation policies, Richard Murphy and Howard Reed argue that, as in Beveridge's time, the global recession now provides another revolutionary moment in which new thinking is required.
Universalism is once again edging up the political agenda. This underlying principle behind the welfare state has always been reviled by those who wish to see it dismantled, but more immediately concerning is a growing acceptance that in order to protect vital public services the ideal of universal coverage should be abandoned in favour of selectivity. Due to these concerns, this paper puts forward the case for universalism by examining its effects on society; the economy; taxation, redistribution and equality; and political philosophy, whilst debating, in contrast, the problems that come with selectivity.
This pamphlet is the first in a series of mythbusters from Class and Red Pepper, designed to expose the realities behind the recurring myths which often scew the debate on welfare.
Beveridge's 1942 Report was first and foremost a plan for the abolition of want. Yet want, in the form of poverty, has proved far from easy to abolish. This paper attempts to understand why, 70 years after the Beveridge Report, poverty continues to be so prevalent and will attempt to suggest what a renewed attack on want might look like.
'Tackling Squalor' was commissioned as part of the Social State series to address the Giant Evil of ‘squalor’ and propose new policy priorities for housing in 2015 Britain. This paper argues that the best way to counter the residualisation of social housing and the spatial concentration of social housing tenants is to radically increase the supply of social housing.
This first paper in the Social State series of work looks at what we can learn from Beveridge’s analysis of society and explores how his Giant Evils can be redefined for today.
This paper argues that the market will fail to meet our housing challenges: the government must step in to ensure we build enough new homes, of the right sort, in the right places. The historic record shows that private house-building alone will not produce enough new homes, and furthermore a market free-for-all will not solve the country’s complex housing crisis.
With an abundance of evidence, Why Inequality Matters shows that the scourge of inequality has had a real role in the current economic crisis. The pursuit of equality is not just a moral imperative, not just vital for the poor and for the social cohesion and wellbeing of society, it is also necessary for a stable economy.
The current policy status quo is one that valorizes choice whilst rarely recognizing that choices come with resources that remain very unequally distributed. Tinkering with an unjust educational system is not going to transform it into a just system. The building blocks of a socially just educational system lie outside in wider society, but before any building can be done the right foundations must be laid. This paper outlines some of the ideas behind what it may take to achieve a socially just education system.
For more than thirty years the politics of the UK and most other western democracies has been dominated by a notable and consistent adherence to a single consensus on tax issues. But as this paper makes clear, there are clear economic and social arguments for progressive taxation. The counter-arguments are weak. However, the gains for society that progressive taxation can deliver are dependent upon creating a new social consensus. Tax could be the means for building that 21st century economic consensus and this paper sets out a research and policy programme that could create that agenda.
In his paper for Class Prof Malcolm Sawyer explains why the austerity programme is economically irrational, socially irresponsible, and fundamentally lacks credibility in its central goal of reducing the budget deficit. He argues instead that the reduction of the budget deficit can only come from a revival of private demand which is harmed by an austerity programme.
This Think Piece argues that if the UK is to achieve a sustainable recovery from the current financial crisis, the wage share needs to be restored to post-war levels and the great concentrations of income and wealth broken up.