Wednesday 4 July 2007

Surface Change but Business as Before

No matter how many times Prime Minister Brown uses the word change the reality is dawning that business continues largely as before. For big business Alastair Darling's interview in today's (Wednesday) Financial Times confirms that literally big business will continue as before.

Chancellor Darling reassured the City by ruling out any clampdown on the low tax benefits enjoyed by either private equity companies or the super rich claiming non domicile tax status.

In the same interview Darling made clear his intention "to join the battle" against any economic strategy in Europe which interferred with the dominance of free market and urged countries to press ahead with market liberalisation.

To those Trade Union General Secretaries who have argued for Government intervention in the economy to protect and develop jobs in our manufacturing base, Darling denounced an interventionist approach saying that "It is impossible to designate a particular industry or product or whatever that is so essential to our way of life."

This refusal to consider any change in economic strategy was reflected in the Prime Minister's statement on constitutional issues. Whilst the statement contained a fairly obvious set of long overdue and largely administrative reforms, there was no reference to establishing real rights.

Rights to decent housing, education, health and freedom from poverty and trade union rights were not even mentioned. Understandably because a new constitutional settlement installing these economic rights in law would directly challenge the distribution of economic wealth and power in this country and thus confront the Prime Minister's free market economic policy.

One of the fundamental differences between the Left and Right is that on the Left we believe that the best way of organising society is through democratic control whilst the Right believes in the control of the market over our lives.

Over the coming months the Left will need to lead the real debate over constitutional change based upon this basic concept of spreading democracy.