A new narrative is needed to combat inequality and cut the deficitby Will Hutton / March 10, 2015 / Leave a comment
Published in April 2015 issue of Prospect Magazine
Britain is moving into uncharted economic and political waters. This May’s general election is likely to deliver another result in which again neither of the two main parties command a parliamentary majority—a degree of political stalemate unmatched in modern times. Representation of both in Scotland is likely to be minimal, with its eventual secession from the union all too possible. Britain is at odds with itself and directionless. The future seems threatening rather than full of opportunity. Thatcherite and socialist certainties alike are exploded.
The collapse of socialism is an old story. It was the blind Thatcherite trust in the efficiency of markets and the inability of profit-seeking firms to make mistakes that contributed to the banking crisis seven years ago as bank balance sheets ballooned to an impossible size, only saved from implosion by the state that they so distrust. It is the Thatcherite indifference to the character of ownership—as long as the owner is not the British state—that has legitimised the extraordinary sale of public assets and private companies abroad over the last generation. Britain used to own more of the rest of the world than it owned us. No more—even our international investment position is now in deficit.