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Debating economic policy with Fabians & Christian Socialists

I spent Saturday speaking at two events on economic policy.  The Christian Socialist Movement held a unique conference, The Devil's in the detail, looking at the basics of how our economy works.  The idea was to help people debate economic policy by knowing a bit more about the background.  I spoke at the beginning outlining some of the things we've been doing in CSM on this theme and plans for the future.

I then headed to Witham in Essex to take part in the Fabian Society's Eastern Region conference.  The theme was Defending the state and I spoke in a seminar on how to develop a fairer economy, sharing the platform with Patrick Diamond.  It was a good debate with conference attendees.

I developed the theme I looked at with the Richmond Fabians last Thursday.  We looked at the current stresses and strains in markets that governments are having to deal with.  And we debated what role government can play in such circumstances - which links to the need for Labour to regain economic credibility (the theme of my Fabian pamphlet).

My main concern is that many countries are in austerity death spirals, cutting spending and raising taxes too far too soon, and so cutting growth, which in turn hits tax revenues and requires a higher welfare bill.  To be credible, you need a credible plan for cutting deficits which is linked to a credible plan for growth.  In the UK, the government has no credible growth plan (not really any growth plan) and it's deficit-cutting plan is losing credibility too.  This is why we need a Labour Party on the front foot on economic policy.

Stephen Beer, 28/02/2012

The SMF's proposals highlight one central point - but ignore the guesswork in public finance projections.
As the Budget approaches, is it right to increase borrowing to try to stimulate growth?
Will Hutton suggests so in an interesting Observer article - but it's ultimately a matter of demand and confidence.