We’ve been trying to tackle inequality and deprivation for decades without sustained success. It's time for a new approachby Charlotte Alldritt / September 13, 2018 / Leave a comment
For about a decade we thought we had cracked it. The end of boom and bust. Balanced, sustainable growth and the inevitable march of progress would follow.
All that came to an abrupt halt when the banks crashed in 2008. Now the political debate on both sides of the Atlantic has crystallised around the question of whether “progress” is possible after all.
The revival of identity politics has levered open deep divisions within both the Conservative and Labour parties. What you believe has been surpassed by who you are, and how you choose to identify yourself (and others).
What it means to be “progressive”
The term ‘progressive’ was once shared across a broad, centre-left and centre-right position. Appetite for progressive ideas thrived in the post-1945 consensus. Society was ready for modernisation and change.
Now it is used more often as a term of scorn than worn as a badge of pride—on both side of the political spectrum. The ideological glue that for decades, if not centuries, bound the broad churches within—and at times between—our political parties, is disintegrating.
Two elements began to break the progressive vision down. First, the challenge to the idea that the kind of technocratic change being offered was progress at all.
Then—more fundamentally—an idea from Milton Friedman’s version of free market thinking, which told us that markets would clear at an optimal, or at least economically efficient, level.
At least as far as the economy was concerned, “progress” was supposed to reach its pinnacle and simply stay there.
A failure in our institutions
The economics of the “third way” gave us hope that we were not powerless to improve our economic outcomes in the face of bigger, increasingly global forces. Markets could be shaped in the interests of society.
But, as the financial crisis of 2008 revealed, our economic institutions were not up to the task. The third way was a smoke-and mirrors-game. Progressive politics needed a more structurally fair and theoretically robust economic underpinning.
The search for a progressive economics is why the emergence of inclusive growth is so significant. By moving away from our current “grow now, redistribute later” approach, inclusive growth can create the conditions for broad-based productivity and prosperity.
At the heart of inclusive growth is one…