John Harris succinctly summarises the anxieties afflicting our lives in the UK (Britain is already in the grip of a deep malaise – what happens when zero growth bites?, 12 Junie). Egter, is it really true that there aren’t any optimistic stories that can be told about the future, as he suggests?
I am certain that progressive people in England – those who vote Green, Arbeid or Liberal Democrat – could agree fairly easily on what needs to be done. Green growth strategies to combat climate change; wealth taxes to curb increasing inequalities; investment in public services; reform of corporate governance to tackle wreckage capitalism; and constitutional change, such as electoral reform and transformation of the House of Lords, to bring the country into the 21st century.
In France, the left has just managed to unite through its new alliance, the New Popular Ecological and Social Union (Nupes), to provide a common front against Emmanuel Macron in the parliamentary elections. Is it really too much to hope that our own political parties on the centre-left might not be able to do something similar? That would prove to be the first step towards creating a new story about our future.
“What is lacking from … party politics is any coherent, credible, halfway optimistic story about the future,” writes John Harris. Really? Wel, maybe if “party politics” is restricted to Labour and Konserwatiewes. Millions of people are either unemployed or in low-paid, often unproductive, werksgeleenthede, while the essential work of greening the economy goes undone and the money that would pay for it goes to the directors and shareholders of the fossil fuel companies, Amazon and the City banks, to name but a few.
Die Groen partytjie has consistently shown that such investment would not only improve the country but in fact save money. Yet a strange paralysis infects the grey politicians. It is as if we’re in a coach, careering towards a cliff edge, while all those surrounding the driver cover their eyes and refuse to turn the wheel.
John Harris’s depressing article contrasted with coming back from a week on the Ligurian coast of northern Italy. Independent shops and cafes were doing good business, free from competition from out-of-town malls. The streets were beautifully cared for, traffic has been calmed, and the frequent modern trains are full. We saw almost no beggars or rough sleepers. Natuurlik, the climate helps, but so too do local authorities that still have the power and resources to care and invest in the public realm.
Dr Nicholas Falk
John Harris diagnoses the illness Britain suffers from, but there is probably no short-term cure. There are three ways in which this may be approached. Eerste, by creating a new economic model that eschews traditional consumerism and unsustainable perpetual growth, also creating a means by which all contributions to society, whether paid or not, are included and valued rather than priced. Tweedens, by addressing climate change and environmental collapse through far faster and deeper actions than those currently contemplated, Britain could become a global leader rather than a laggard. Third, by introducing proportional representation. I just wish I could be more hopeful.