Thursday, September 06, 2012

Ed's Clause 4 Moment

 In effect it now reads -

"To secure for the workers by hand or by brain the full fruits of their industry and the most equitable predistribution that may be possible upon the basis of the operation of responsible capitalism."

Below is the relevant extract from Ed Miliband's speech made (appropriately) at the Stock Exchange where he called for "predistribution" under "responsible capitalism" . The full speech can be found here.

"Of course, redistribution will always remain necessary.  But we've learned that it is not sufficient. And fiscal circumstances will make it harder not easier.  The new agenda is that we need to care about the model of the economy we have and the distribution of income it creates.We need to care about predistribution as well as redistribution.

Predistribution is about saying: 'We cannot allow ourselves to be stuck with permanently being a low-wage economy'. It is neither just, nor does it enable us to pay our way in the world. Our aim must be to transform our economy so it is a much higher skill, higher wage economy. Think about somebody working in a call centre, a supermarket, or in an old peoples' home. Redistribution offers a top-up to their wages. Predistribution seeks to offer them more: Higher skills.  With higher wages. An economy that works for working people. Centre-left governments of the past tried to make work pay better by spending more on transfer payments. Centre-left governments of the future will have to also make work pay better by making work itself pay. That is how we are going to build growth based not just on credit, but on real demand. And that is how we are going to help the squeezed middle of this country and, build a better economy when there is less money around."

So what are Eds the first steps in his journey towards predistribution under responsible capitalism?

He went on to say "to tackle the challenge of predistribution...we have made proposals on changing the way the banking system works, and promoted a British Investment Bank...Sir George Cox, formerly Director General of the Institute of Directors, is leading our review on short-termism...We need proper competition in all sectors of the economy so that consumers get a fair deal. That means not allowing any cosy cartels to develop in any sector, from energy to our train network...We also need...all Government departments working together, including through procurement, to support British business...We need a skills system...And we plan to build that new agenda with schools, young people, businesses and trade unions working together to fashion our new vocational training system...We need a special welfare state that encourages people to work, and rewards those who do...the move towards responsible capitalism is actually being led by many business people...A responsible capitalism is a resilient capitalism".

Ed's dream seems to be a belief in the establishment of a system of "perfect competition", whose early advocates claimed would work for the benefit of all - whether they earned their living from their land, their labour or their capital. But it is a long time since this idea was even seen as a dream. We have long since moved into a world dominated by forms of monopoly capitalism, whose interests have themselves come to dominate political activity. An effective move to predistribtion would require measures such as a ceiling for earnings and wealth holdings, as well as improved minimum wages and benefit levels. But that would be called redistribution, rather than predistribution.