Rethinking economic policy

The main themes of the TUC's 'Beyond Crisis' conference were reinforced in an afternoon session. Lord Layard, Andrew Simms & Glenis Willmott MEP all spoke.

The main themes of the TUC’s ‘Beyond Crisis’ conference were reinforced in an afternoon session featuring Lord Richard Layard, Andrew Simms of the New Economic Foundation (nef), and Glenis Willmott MEP. Layard and Simms called for a refocusing of economic policy while Willmott spoke of the risks posed by isolationism in addressing the economic crisis.

Richard-LayardLayard returned to his favoured theme in recent of years of happiness and called for:

(i) Greater equality of income, regard and respect;

(ii) A more active welfare to work programme including a jobs guarantee for the long-term unemployed;

and (iii) A greater focus on mental health, the victims of which he described as being society’s “most deprived people.”

Andrew-SimmsAndrew Simms outlined that Britain had just “85 months to go before we reach a tipping point” where the risk of irreversible climate change becomes likely. He called for a “rapid and deep decarbonisation programme”.

Returning to the themes in nef’s recent publication ‘The Great Transition’, he called for a “great” revaluing, redistribution, and reskilling.

He concluded by warning:

“Cuts now will not work. It’s basic economics.

“We need to invest now … If we do, we will find more money returning to the public purse.”

Glenis-WillmottWillmott spoke of the need for international cooperation to deal with the consequences of the economic crisis. “This crisis is an opportunity to clear up some of the mess created by the bankers and a lack of regulation,” she said.

In a political speech, Willmott went on to praise Gordon Brown, who she said had won the respect of the left and the right for his interventions, and draw comparisons between John Major’s rows over Maastricht and David Cameron’s fight over Lisbon Treaty. She said the latter would weaken Cameron in Europe.

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