Britain faces a crisis of state and market legitimacy

A new poll shows the general public are increasingly sceptical about the power of both markets and the state to deliver on their concerns, reports Will Straw.

The general public are increasingly sceptical about the power of both markets and the state to deliver on their concerns according to new polling released today by Policy Network. The findings appear to complement the in vogue ‘Blue Labour’ story as well as analysis by James Purnell.

The new YouGov poll (xls) found:

– 85% agree with the statement that “in general, big companies in the UK these days care only about profits – not about the wider community or the environment” compared to only 69% of Americans and 60% of Swedes;

– 64% believe that the market economy is dominated by large corporations which squeeze out small firms compared to 53% of Americans and 46% of Swedes;

– Only 23% believe that government can ensure fairness by taking action to change society for the better compared to 27% in Sweden and 30% in Germany;

– Only 16% believe that government can stand up to vested interests compared to 27% in Sweden and 21% in Germany


In recent weeks, Maurice Glasman – the key proponent of the Blue Labour philosophy – has argued:

“Both Blair and Brown were recklessly naïve about finance capital and the City of London and relentlessly managerial in their methods. Blair developed a political alchemy that Brown failed to recreate, and it was between tradition and modernity. The problem was that his conception of tradition was superficial and his concept of modernisation verging on the demented: a conception of globalisation understood entirely on the terms set by finance capital…

“The withdrawal by New Labour from the economy led to a manic embrace of the state. New Labour’s public sector reforms were almost Maoist in their conception of year zero managerial restructuring.”

While last year, James Purnell used a speech to the London School of Economics to argue:

“We need the state to make sure the market doesn’t overpower people. But, the state can overpower people too.”

The Policy Network poll also includes warnings for Labour, finding 39% believe that when the party is in government it taxes too much with too little public benefit – although on this measure the US Democrats (46%) and Germany SPD (48%) fare worse.

Olaf Cramme and Patrick Diamond of Policy Network focus on this finding in their op ed for today’s Guardian:

“Majorities in all four countries believe that centre-left governments tax too much with too little public benefit. This feeling is strongest among the groups the left has to win back. Yet there is support for increased taxation if it is guaranteed to improve benefits and services.

“Job security remains the absolute priority for voters. There is also a strong attachment to the pillars of the postwar welfare state, including pension provision, healthcare and – to a lesser extent – unemployment benefits.”

The findings from the poll will be discussed at a conference in Oslo this week which Ed Miliband is attending alongside Spanish and Greek premiers, José Luis Zapatero and George Papandreou, as well as centre-left leaders from Ireland, Holland, Norway, Sweden, and Denmark and 250 policy makers.

19 Responses to “Britain faces a crisis of state and market legitimacy”

  1. Thom Culpeper

    RT @leftfootfwd: Britain faces a crisis of state and market legitimacy: http://bit.ly/jygCFq reports @wdjstraw

  2. Pete

    “Only 16% believe that government can stand up to vested interests”
    No.

    Only 16% rate this as one of the two most important “advantages of the Government taking action to change society for the better”.

    Not at all the same as saying 16% of people don’t believe the government can stand up to vested interests.

  3. Len Arthur

    RT @leftfootfwd: Britain faces a crisis of state and market legitimacy: http://bit.ly/jygCFq reports @wdjstraw

  4. Robert

    Purnell , the bird brain knew how to make good use of profit from his homes, I think if the day comes that he is allowed back into government god help us all.

    Who was it that decided most of the sick disabled are work shy scroungers, oh yes Blair who put his idea into practice oh yes Purnell.

  5. Will Straw

    New poll shows high levels of public scepticism about markets AND state http://bit.ly/jygCFq

  6. Pamelia Brown

    RT @wdjstraw: New poll shows high levels of public scepticism about markets AND state http://bit.ly/jygCFq

  7. Duncan Weldon

    RT @wdjstraw: New poll shows high levels of public scepticism about markets AND state http://bit.ly/jygCFq

  8. Philip Whiteley

    RT @wdjstraw: New poll shows high levels of public scepticism about markets AND state http://bit.ly/jygCFq

  9. The Dragon Fairy

    “@wdjstraw: New poll shows high levels of public scepticism about markets AND state http://t.co/Si1AAUs” #Capitalism&SocialismFail

  10. Anna Machell

    RT @Puffles2010: “@wdjstraw: New poll shows high levels of public scepticism about markets AND state http://t.co/Si1AAUs” #Capitalism&So …

  11. Rebekah Higgitt

    Interesting (bt see comment clarifying views of govt) RT @Puffles2010: @wdjstraw: Poll: scepticism abt markets AND state http://t.co/Si1AAUs

  12. Mehdi Hasan

    RT @wdjstraw: New poll shows high levels of public scepticism about markets AND state http://bit.ly/jygCFq

  13. Rob Lane

    RT @wdjstraw: New poll shows high levels of public scepticism about markets AND state http://bit.ly/jygCFq

  14. Chris Hesketh

    RT @wdjstraw: New poll shows high levels of public scepticism about markets AND state http://bit.ly/jygCFq

  15. Abdul Wahid

    Poll:Confidence low in #UK democratic state; viewed not to stand up to profit-driven corporations. That's #capitalism! http://bit.ly/lvUndZ

  16. THEMEATMARKET – Politics/Music/Art blog » Markets and the State

    […] document.getElementById("fb-root").appendChild(e); }()); Three posts (OK, two posts and a video) made over the past day have alluded to the same thing: that the economy is a […]

  17. Ben

    RT @wdjstraw: New poll shows high levels of public scepticism about markets AND state http://bit.ly/jygCFq

  18. Daniel Pitt

    Britain faces a crisis of state and market legitimacy: http://bit.ly/jygCFq #ConDemNation

  19. Nomination for most influential left-wing thinker of 2010/11: Maurice Glasman | Left Foot Forward

    […] Britain faces a crisis of state and market legitimacy – Will Straw, May 11th […]

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