The Economic Policy of an Incoming Labour Government:
Some Thoughts (April 1996)

We are running the economy very well now. We have the most  successful enterprise economy in Western Europe’ Kenneth Clarke ‘Guardian’ 9 March 1996.

‘Jobs for life are disappearing in favour of part-time workers who can adapt to change, according to Waltham Cross employment  agency Victoria Lewis. . . Author William Bridges has coined the  phrase "flex-force" - a flexible work force whose size rises and falls  with the workload and skill requirements’ ‘Hertfordshire Mercury’ 5 April 1996.

On that same ‘Mercury’ page, came the report that "An amazing" 800 people have applied for the 130 jobs being created at the new Co-op supermarket in Hoddesdon due to open at the end of April. The recession that has decimated the communities of the North, Midlands, Scotland, Wales and Rural Britain has, inevitably, arrived here in London and the South-East: the heart-land of the artificial boom of the selfish Tory years.

I am a forty five-year old teacher, mechanistic organic chemist and writer. Through my recent reading and thinking, I have some thoughts on an incoming Labour Government’s economic strategy. The problem with laissez-faire, free-market capitalism is that its very volatility is of no benefit to any-one: capitalist or worker alike. Keynsian economics was little better, in terms of creating a sustainable future, because it demanded ever increasing short-term material consumption and because it persisted in capitalism’s main folly: it centralises capital and, therefore, power.

(We shouldn’t forget that money is a representation of energy and, as such, wild, uncontrolled swirls of energy don’t do any-one any good: a hurricane will rip the roof off a rich man’s house every bit as successfully as that of a poor man!) The key, therefore, is to decentralise money, to put some viscosity into its movement, to give ready access to it to people who will use it for sustainable activities and then to re-circulate the wealth thus created. Given that strategy, how about these for tactics?

o Reintroduce international exchange controls;
o Abolish usury;
o Organise competitive activities as worker-operated co-operatives and monopoly activities as consumer co-operatives;
o Redistribute "added-value" from workers’ co-opS through nationally collected corporate taxation, distributed into local, democratically-managed community investment banks and thus available for both new wealth creation and community development;
o Make capital grants (not loans) to developing countries;
o Abolish personal taxation and introduce wage maxima and minima;
o Maximise necessary service provision on a free-at-the-point-of-use basis, retaining (initially?) money as a mechanism for access to discretionary purchases.

These thoughts are a personal starting point. I hope they form a good basis for practical, co-operative democratic socialism.

Dr John Courtneidge: April 1996