The Trade Union movement head has called on the government and its economic affiliates to ëlearn from the Olympicsí when formulating the shape of future policy, suggesting that they consider elements of public planning and funding, rather than solely utilising free market, privatised policies.
TUC chief Brendan Barber highlighted that the success of UK athletes at the games came through public raising programmes, and clearly displayed that ìprivate isnít always best and the market doesnít always deliverí.
Mr Barber also questioned the governmentís dogmatic retention of their free market policies which has seen them stay away from ëpicking winnersí and giving extra funding to certain programmes, despite many clearly displaying that they will have a more positive future trajectory than otherís currently on the market.
“Tell that that to Bradley Wiggins, Jessica Ennis or Mo Farah, all supported by targeted funding.
“Markets always trump planning, they say. Well look at the Olympic Park, the result of years of careful planning and public investment.
“Private is always better than public, they argue. Not true, as we saw all too clearly when it came to Olympic security.
He added that the government was in danger of repeating the same policy errors as the administrations in the 1930ís and 1980ís, and called on the government to consider implementing a greater degree of public economic policy in the future, rather than solely retaining their privatisation programme which has dominated the UK for almost three decades now.
ëAusterity isnít workingí
Mr Barber challenged the free market, privatised nature of the governmentís economic policy in recent times, and identified that only by targeting certain areas which contribute to growth through planning, would the country reach a position where it was constantly improving, both economically and socially.
“Those summer weeks were a time when we really were all in it together. Not because we were told to be. But because we wanted to be. Athletes, workers, volunteers, spectators, residents, communities – all pulling together.
“The same spirit we have just seen during the Paralympics. And as we reflect on the wonderful achievements of our disabled athletes, let us not squander the potential of disabled workers.”
ìThe central lessons of this summer – that private isn’t always best and the market doesn’t always deliver – surely need to shape future policy”.
We can’t muddle through greening our economy – we need investment, planning and an Olympic-style national crusade. We won’t build up industrial strength unless we work out what we do best as a country, whether it’s cars, pharmaceuticals, aerospace, or the creative industries, and help them do even better.”
The Union head also hit out at the governmentís current austerity programme that has seen a major series of public spending cuts implemented over the past couple of years to bring down the budget deficit.
Critics of the programme have argued that it has contributed towards little growth in the past few years, and instead was creating a wealth gap and break in society that could hold back the countryís economic performance for years to come now.
And this view was shared by Mr Barber, who argued that ëItís clear that austerity simply isnít workingí.
ìThere has been no growth since the government came to power over two years ago. In effect the economy has become a gigantic laboratory,” he said.
“What we are staring in the face is many years of stagnation. Our own lost decades,”
“And it won’t be the West London rich who suffer. No, it will be the rest of us.
“The victims of a government that thinks it can buck the central lesson of economic history. That austerity simply begets more austerity.”
The Trade Unionís remarks are highly compelling, and are clearly suggesting that the government move away from its rigid avocation of neo-liberal capitalist values that have dominated the political and economic landscape since the 1980ís.
The performance of the UKís economy in recent times has drawn comparisons to that of Japan during the 1990ís, where inflation was at a low, but growth remained stagnant and relatively low, to the countryí detriment.
Focusing on targeted areas is an attractive proposition indeed, though ascertaining which areas of the countryís economic sector deserve the highest levels of public funding will be another huge problem later on down the line, unless there are clear candidates for the finance.
What is for sure is that labour productivity is in dire need of picking up in the country in order to achieve a balanced and genuine economic recovery moving forward in the future, and that the current austerity programme has incurred a growth in the UKís economy that has been spurred by consumer spending, which is neither a desirable or sustainable methodology to use to resolve our problems.
Perhaps by utilising elements of public planning in our economic policymaking in the future would be beneficial to picking up productivity and the industrial performance of the UK, because the reality is that austerity isnít working, and action has to be taken now to ensure that the UK does not enter into a period of stagnation moving forward in the future.